Just Keep Reeling
Andy Whitcomb
Below is his first article for now closed, www.espnoutdoors.com. A collection of additional articles, columns, posts, and stories is now available as the e-book "Just Keep Reeling."




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.  

Archives from www.takemefishing.org. Updated 4-04-20.

415. "Fishing License Fees Help You Fish"

414. "Texas Jetty Fishing"

413. "Where to Buy a Boat"

412. "3 Low Maintenance Boats"

411. "Best Ice Fishing Sled"

410. "Ice Fishing with Kids"

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406. "Fly Fishing Basics"

405. "Freshwater Lure Guides"

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389. "3 Reasons for NE Boating"

388. "Salmon Tips for Beginners"

387. "4 Species for Fish Farming"

386. "No Boat Title?"

385. "Smelt?!"

384. "5 Factors that could Change in New Fishing Regulations"

383. "Oregon Surf Fishing"

382. "A One Day Boating License"

381. "What is Needed to get a Fishing License"

380. "3 Examples of Fish Restoration in U.S."

379. "Red Snapper Factors"

378. "Ice Fishing for Brown Trout"

377. "Saltwater Rigs"

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375. "Toccoa River Fly Fishing"

374. " Reporting Boating Accidents"

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342. "Austin Bass"

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340. "3 Best Crappie Lures"

339. "Lake Tahoe"

338. "Fall Steelhead"

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336. "Best Times for Catfish"

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323. "Asian Carp Issues"

322. "Fishing in L.A."

321. "Fishing in Dallas"

320. "Fishing for Salmon in Oregon"

319. "Fishing Road Trip"

318. "Travel Fishing Kit"

317. "Colorado Fishing"

316. "2017 Best Places to Fish and Boat Contributors"

315. "California Boating Reminders"

314. "Catfishing"

313. "Sailing and Fishing"

312. "Fishing in New York?"

311. "Tides and Bass"

310. "7 Great Boat Accessories"

309. "Bass Fishing Location Strategy"

308. "Free Fishing in Texas"

307. "How to Choose a Fishing Rod"

306. "Early Spring Fishing Tips"

305. "Best Spring Bass Lures"

304. "Best Bass Lake Factors"

303. "Prespawn Bass Phase One"

302. "Winter Trout Tips"

301. "Local Fishing Tournaments"

300. "How to Read a Fishing Report"

299. "Tip Up Tips

298. "Advance Winter Bass Techniques"

297. "Where to Ice Fish"

296. "4 Reasons to Visit Winter Boat Shows"

295. "Winter Fishing Conservation Review"

294. "How to Teach Kids to Fish in the Cold"

293. "Local Fishing Knowledge"

292. "Fishing Gift Ideas that Conserve"

291. "Cold Water Bass Fishing"

290. "Best Time to Fish When Cold?"

289. "Good Local Fishing Spots"

288. "Family Boat Upgrading"

287. "Hook Considerations for Catch and Release"

286. "Circle Reasoning: The Circle Hook"

285. "The Best Time to Fish for Steelhead"

284. "Charter Boat Fishing Trip Fun"

283. "Boat Battery Safety Tips"

282. "Underwater Photography and Conservation"

281. "5 Tips to Get Kids Excited about Fishing"

280. "National Hunting and Fishing Day"

279. "How to Boat and Fish Heavy Vegetation"

278. "How Old is That Fish?"

277. "3 Great Saltwater Fishing Places"

276. "Saltwater Fishing Gear"

275. "The Other Best Times to Fish"

274. "Bait Fish I Have Known"

273. "Classifying Fun for Conservation"

272. "Choosing a Fishing Guide"

271. "4 Fun Ways to Boat"

270. "Fishing and Boating for the Birds"

269. "Three Tips for Crappie"

268. "The Best Bass Boat: The Kayak?"

267. "The Clinch is a Cinch"

266. "The Buzzbait"

265. "Presque Isle: A Top Fishing Spot"

264. "Get My Drift"

263. "Run for the Border"

262. "Get a Grip"

261. "Crafting a Lure"

260. "Work on Your Fishing 'Game'"

259. "The Change Up"

258. "A Fishing Tip: Tip!"

257. "Fishing Variables"

256. "Tips for Taking a Family Fishing"

255. "Pond Mistakes"

254. "Catch and Release: Review and Update"

253. "The Northern Pike Spawn"

252. "Grab a Grub"

251. "Largemouth Bass Spawning Considerations"

250. "Trout Stocking Report"

249. "Loading a Fly Reel"

248. "Boat Ready?"

247. "Fish Fitness and Conservation"

246. Cold Air Exposure Tips for Anlgers and Fish

245. "Ice Fishing for Smelt"

244. "Best Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combos"

243. "Cold Water Tips for Kayaks"

242. "The Trotline"

241. "Cargo Pockets"

240. "Snap & Swivel"

239. "Unique Fishing Gift Ideas for Dad"

238. "The Bobber"

237. "Tips for Protecting Water Resources"

236. "Steelhead Fishing Etiquette"

235. "Boating and Fishing Etiquette: Wake Up"

234. "Catch and Release: On Your Terms"

233. "Multi Rigs and Hook Safety"

232. "Boat Show or No?"

231. "Keeping It Creel"

230. "Selecting Fishing Clothes"

229. "Freshwater Fishing Lures for the Entire Water Column"

228. "Fly Fishing for Smallmouth Bass"

227. "New Fishing Techniques"

226. "Boat Anchors: Freshwater Fishing Gear to Stay"

225. "Knot Now!"

224. "Crossover Lures: Freshwater And Saltwater"

223. "Getting Jiggy With It"

222. "The Great Bait Debate: Part 2"

221. "The Great Bait Debate: Part 1"

220. "Carp Fishing Trip"

219. "How to Maximize Family Fishing Time"

218. "Night Fishing Trip"

217. "Deep Thoughts"

216. "Can You Beat a Drum?"

215. "It's Not Easy Being Green: How to Handle Fish"

214. "Fishing Rod Composition"

213. "Camp FishaPond"

212. "Frogger"

211. "The Point of No Return: Check Your Hooks"

210. "Are You a Fly Fisherman?"

209. "Physics of Fishing: The Pendulum"

208. "Sight Fishing for Trout"

207. "3 Reasons to Participate in a Fishing Derby"

206. "Trout Tradition"

205. "The Fishing Report"

204. "Local Fishing Information Sources"

203. "E-fish-iency"

202. "4 Tips to Help Beginners Land Fish"

201. "What's My Line?"

200. "The One That Got Away: Best Fishing Memory"

199. "3 Tips for Planning Fishing Trips"

198. "Frost Bite: 2015 Bassmaster Classic Review"

197. "Ice Fishing Exposed"

196. "Fish Here Often?"

195. "Striped Marlin"

194. "Yellow Perch on Ice"

193. "Fish Story Time"

192. "Streaming Web Cams"

191. "3 Ways a Polar Plunge Catches Fish"

190. "Custom Hot Rods"

189. "4 Tips for Fishing Slower in the Cold"

188. "Tipping Point"

187. "Fish School"

186. "How Many Rods Does an Angler Need?"

185. "The Big Fish Picture"

184. "Constant Contact"

183. "Hare Today"

182. "Steel Stockings"

181. "Take It or Leaf It"

180. "Holes"

179. "Pre Owned Boat for Sale"

178. "Whose Zander is Grander?"

177. "Cut It Out"

176. "Get Out There"

175. "It's All Good

174. "Fitness Plan"

173. "Need More Structure in Your Life?"

172. "What's Your Favorite Color?"

171. "Urban Catfishing"

170. "Does Not Play Well With Others"

169. "Whatever It Takes"

168. "Garden Harvest"

167. "UCAST"

166. "Carp Love"

165. "City Bites"

164. "Fishing Bat Belt"

163. "Camp BaitAHook"

162. "How Many Followers Do You Have?"

161. "Some Like it Hot"

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."



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