Just Keep Reeling
Andy Whitcomb
The entire collection of articles, columns, posts, and stories is now available as the e-book "Just Keep Reeling."


(First ESPNOutdoors.com article)




Going Green

 At the risk of sounding like I am jumping on the latest eco-fad bandwagon, I am pro-green… sunfish.

Not that I am anti-bluegill, but the green sunfish, Lepomis cyanellus, is an over-looked, underappreciated sport fish.  Always cooperative, always hungry, this thick sunfish will smash lures bluegill shy away from.  It may not be the largest sunfish, but it does have one of the largest mouths.

One can even accomplish a version of “bass thumb” from an afternoon of lipping green sunfish with a thumb. Oddly, when I mention that I have a “green thumb” at dinner parties, someone suddenly switches topics and starts questioning me about soil amendments.  

The only finger one might insert in the mouth of an average bluegill is a pinky… and that’s just really weird.  According to my calculations, a bluegill would have to be 3 feet long and weigh around 27 pounds before you could lift one by thumb.   

When hooked, a bluegill uses its dish shape and turns 90 degrees to the line angle. With resistance maximized, it turns in tight, vibrating circles. It’s all he’s got.  The result is some vaudevillian hand trembling finale.

Green sunfish still won’t make your reel scream, but they are a hoot on a fly rod and you can feel a determined head-shake as they power this way and that.  No need to “match the hatch” like with finicky trout; green sunfish have more of a “match this!” attitude.  There have been numerous occasions when I’ve had to work to find something in the tackle box they would not hit.

And don’t forget the colors.  That fringe of yellow/orange on the fins contrasting with the dark olive body and the blue striped operculum… almost as exotic as a peacock bass.   I’ve always thought bluegill were misnamed and disappointingly pale in color, except during spawn.

Another quality of green sunfish that I admire is that they are survivors. 

“But that tiny pond on the top of the hill has never been stocked.” 

Uh-huh.  Now, step aside because I’m going to go catch a spunky pint-sized green sunfish.

During heavy rain events, they power upstream in the tiniest trickle through fields, up hills, eventually landing in some unconquered water hole.  Once there, they are capable of withstanding extreme conditions in turbidity, temperature, and dissolved oxygen to rival even the freakish bullhead. 

You don’t really set out to create green sunfish habitat; it will find you.  As ponds age, they become more and more shallow as erosion carries soil particles downstream.  In its golden years, a small pond may only be able to support green sunfish. Until your bank account can accommodate bulldozer rental, just enjoy this dwindling gem of a fishing hole.  Green sunfish are almost always biting.  And, even if your kids let the bobber run a little too long, there is ample space for hook removal.

But, you probably will never see a recommended stocking rate for green sunfish.  Largemouth bass are usually the goal in stocking programs and because green sunfish have such large mouths, they compete directly with young bass for prey items.  Bluegills, with their tiny, geez-I-hope-I-can-get-the-hook-out mouths, are limited to smaller prey items and thus are a good compliment to most stocking recipes.  And if you aren’t exactly sure of your sunfish identification skills, be advised that a little green sunfish can go a long ways. Like making a sandwich and thinking you are adding a dollop of mayo when it is actually horseradish.

Bluegill politely “kiss” insects off the pond surface on warm summer evenings; green sunfish give big uncomfortably sloppy strange Aunt smacks.  The green sunfish is an admirably feisty fish, with the fundamental feature of a mouth large enough to provide a good, slightly thumb-scarring handle. If there were no bass, we’d all be watching “Green Sunfish Masters” on Saturday mornings.  

Archived posts from www.takemefishing.org.

160. "Those Hard to Reach Places"

159. "Bizarre Fish Foods"

158. "Going My Way?"

157. "Pier Pressure"

156. "My New Pal, the Palomar Knot"

155. "What's Cooking?"

154. "Round Two"

153. "Pike!"

152. "Read the Signs"

151. "Trout Scout"

150. "Icy Fishing"

149. "(Blank)masters"

148. "Stalking the Stockings"

147. "Rest and Reload"

146. "A Rocking Classic"

145. "Classic Clash"

"Chris Lane Fishes with his Kids"

144. "Show Your Fishing and Boating Spirit"

143. "Reasons to Go Solo"

142. "Old Ice Holes"

141. "Breaking the Ice"

140. "Staples"

139. "Water and Wildlife"

138. "Intermission"

137. "Silent or Jingle?"
136. "Can You Cast Art?"

135. "First Fish Stories"

134. "A Fine Line"

133. "What Kind of Bottom Do You Like?"

132. "Tubin'"

131. "Teachers are Students Too"

130. "Visit a Fish Hatchery"

129. "Steel City"

128. "Supersize It this Fall"

127. "Maybe Get Back"

126. "Spinnerbait time!"

125. "To Set or not to Set"

124. "BowFishing"

123. "Don't Put Up the Kayak Yet."

122. "Four! No That's a Five Pounder."

121. "Log On"

120. "The Hatch may be Open"

119. "Raise the Rafters"

118. "Trolling, trolling,trolling...Walleye!"

117. "Top Shot"

116. "Aquatic Veggies"

115. "Yard Fishing"

114. "Chub Love"

113. "The Stick Trout"

112. "F.L.Y. Fishing (Fishing Lures of Youth)"

111. "Go with the Flow"

110. "Propellers Need Not Apply"

109. "Father's Day Suggestions"

108. "Bluegill Bonanza"

107. "Learning to Cast from a Boat"

106. "Memorial Day Weekend!"

105. "On Hold"

104. "Take Mom Fishing"

103. "Fish can Grow on Trees. Sort of."

102. "Opening Day Review"

101. "Lake Erie Biggie Smallies"

100. "Opening Day"

99. "It's A-Boat Time!"

98. "In Tints Fishing"

97. "Professional Overrun"

96. "Give Me a Break."

95. "Don't Flip Out."

94. "All This From Fish"

93. "Trophy Room"

92.  "Fishing Companion, Will You Be Mine?"

91. "Take Me Fishing... Again!"

90.  "A Better Super Bowl?"

89.  "The Grand Pause"

88. "Repurpose for the Purpose of Fishing."

87. "Let It Glow."

86. "He Who Smelt It" 

85. "Muskie!"

84. "Steamy Fishing Locations" 

83.  "Wade and See." 

82. "A Nice List."

81. "The High 5"

80. "Thankful for a Return Policy" 

79.  "Give Whirlygigs a Whirl."

78.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/teach-fishing/

77.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/black-cats/

76.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/bridge-night/

75. http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/relishing-a-relic/

74. http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/connection-detection/

73. http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/the-thrill-uphill/

72.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/go-long/

71. http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/unplugged/

70.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/the-real-thing/

69. http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/%E2%80%9Cgo-ahead-make-my-shade-%E2%80%9D/

68. http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/true-blue/

67. http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/don%E2%80%99t-be-koi-with-me/

66.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/how-to-lose-fish/

65.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/park-it/

64. http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/follow-that-duck/

63.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/put-in/

62.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/lure-testing-facilities/

61.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/bovines-and-bass/

60.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/bass-thumb/

59.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/the-baiter%E2%80%99s-dozen/

58.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/pond-monsters/

57.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/out-of-this-world/

56.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/from-russia-with-ballast/

55.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/%E2%80%9Cwood-or-plastic%E2%80%9D/

54.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/got-lucky-drawers/

53.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/boating-reason-131-snakes/

52.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/huge-potential/

51.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/a-fiddler%E2%80%99s-not-a-goof/

50.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/pickin%E2%80%99-and-a-grinnin%E2%80%99/

49. http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/shall-we-snag-now/

48.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/crappie-management-tools/

47.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/the-boat-tote/

46.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/%E2%80%9Cfin%E2%80%9D-the-end/

45.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/time-to-make-the-doughnuts/

44.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/a-crappie-time/

43.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/retainer-explainer/

42.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/find-the-lure-before-it-finds-you/

41.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/don%E2%80%99t-pass-on-the-bass-class

40.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/off-the-hook/

39.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/bling-it-on/

38.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/show-me-the-boats/

37.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/how-the-states-got-their-angling-shapes/

36.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/the-bait-fridge/

35.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/reel-social/

34.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/the-purpose-driven-lure/

33.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/what-is-your-favorite-fishing-show/

32.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/oh-christmas-reef/

31. http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/need-more-cowbell/

30. http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/chocolate-bobbers/

29. http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/catfish-ala-road/

28.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/crappie-not-available-in-stores/

27.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/bank-on-it/

26.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/%e2%80%9cresourceful-creations%e2%80%9d/

25.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/duck-duck%e2%80%a6boat/

24.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/the-biggest-fan-of-boats/

23.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/camp-pendleton-kid%e2%80%99s-fishing-derby/

22.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/bumper-boats/

21.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/honeybuns/

20.  http://www.takemefishing.org/community/blog/the-trophy-snag/

"The Shocking Truth"

"A Military Thank You. No Strings Attached"

"Just Get There"

"A Strapping Lad"

"Keep It in the Yard"

"Fish Pictures"

"Wall Worthy"

"Fishing Shoes"

"Little Bait Shops"

"Fish Guilds"

"One Teaspoon of Protection"

"Easy Cleanup Bait"

"No Snowcones in Fishing"

"The Numbers Don't Lie"

"Free Fishing: in 3D!"

"Sign of a Pro Angler"

"Quest for the Perfect Boat."



 Archives from Pro Anglers Journal

Expo-Sure 2010 

Three Beautiful Words

Muddy and Muddier 


"Packing for a Classic Roadtrip"




































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