Diminutive Sunfish reign king

Although smaller in size yet big on flavor, bluegills reign as the most popular fish among Indiana anglers. Photo provided by author

The small orange and yellow bobber twitched once before disappearing below the olive green surface. After a brief battle another multi-colored bluegill laid shimmering across my palm. After carefully twisting the gold hook from its mouth it was dropped into the livewell where it joined a dozen others. It is a scene played over and over each season by thousands, if not millions of other anglers each year. The only difference may be choice of bobber or bait.

The bluegill is one species every angler has sought one time or another. When speaking of bluegills we are basically talking about members of the sunfish family which include redears, pumpkinseeds and green sunfish.

For many they are a constant endeavor for several reasons. First, they have saved the day on many outings, especially when mid-summer weather turns premier species like black bass and walleyes sluggish. You can always resort to catching a few bluegills. Unlike their larger framed cousins, these little guys can be easier to catch than a cold in kindergarten class. A good sized bluegill will measure about eight inches with anything stretching over 10 considered a bull-gill. Second, nothing beats fresh caught sunfish when fried to succulent deliciousness.

When it comes to a favorite fish, very little has changed over the past 40 years in the minds of Hoosier anglers. This was concreted with the results of last year’s survey of licensed anglers recently released by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The results revealed that bluegills still remain king as the fish species most often pursued in the Hoosier state. Next in line were largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappies and channel catfish.The survey also showed that most anglers prefer fishing private ponds, small rivers and streams and the many natural lakes which dot the northeast portion of the state.

According to the thousands of anglers who took part in the survey, they believe the DNR’s Division of Fisheries should emphasize the management of our native, self-sustaining sport fish species. This was backed up by the fact that over 60 percent of responses indicated support of a statewide harvest limit on bluegills. Currently there is no bag limit with fishermen being able to keep as many as they want. Responding anglers also would like to see a size limit on both species of crappies. Only 26 percent expressed opposition.

Among species stocked annually by the DNR, the majority showed preference for the stocking of walleye in our states small and larger reservoirs.

The Indiana Licensed Angler Survey has been conducted every decade since 1977. It is a helpful tool by providing fisheries biologists with a snapshot of attitudes, opinions and preferences among Indiana anglers.

These surveys have been an integral component of proper fisheries management and help to serve the best interests of constituents.

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John Martino
Martino is a well-known outdoor writer throughout Indiana and has served as longtime outdoor columnist for the Kokomo Tribune newspaper. Martino has won numerous awards for both his writing and his service to youth, conservation and the community. He recently retired as Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the City of Kokomo and now works as Ivy Tech Executive Director for Facilities for the Kokomo region.

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