FISH BUSTERS' BULLETIN: Bream destinations great for kids

Published: Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 06:00 AM.

Submitted photos must be your own, unedited pictures, and the photo must not include inappropriate content. Photos should be taken during April while freshwater fishing in Florida and include multiple anglers enjoying their day together on the water. The FWC may subsequently use the photos for outreach purposes.

In addition, freshwater anglers are encouraged to participate in the Big Catch angler-recognition program. All you need to do is catch one of 33 species of freshwater fish that exceed a specific length or weight, go to BigCatchFlorida.com, fill out some information and post a photo. Besides getting to share the excitement of your catch on the Internet, you’ll receive via email a custom certificate to print, and a discount for SportsmanOnCanvas.com.

Big Catch encourages anglers to try different species and locations, by recognizing different levels of achievement: Master Angler (five different qualifying Big Catch species), Elite Angler (10 different qualifying Big Catch species) or Specialist (five qualifying fish of the same species). It is fun and challenging for the entire family.

Here are some tips to make your bream fishing more successful. During spring, sunfish congregate to spawn in water depths from 3 to 10 feet. Bluegill continue to spawn periodically throughout summer. Bluegill opt for slightly shallower areas than redear sunfish, but it’s not unusual to see them use the same bedding areas simultaneously. Crickets, grubs, sand maggots or grass shrimp will all catch bedding bluegill. Use a small hook, #6 or #8, with a split-shot sinker about 6 inches up the line, and concentrate on water less than 6 feet deep. A small float helps identify strikes. For artificial baits, a 1/8-ounce “beetle spin” with a white or chartreuse body on ultralight tackle is an excellent choice. Your local bait and tackle shop can quickly help you find what you need.

The redear sunfish, or shellcracker, is another popular panfish. Although they prefer snails and clams, redear sunfish are caught most often on earthworms around the full moon in March and April, when spawning peaks. Redear prefer hard-bottom habitat and typically begin spawning about one month before bluegill. In south Florida, shellcracker spawn as early as late February and will likely begin bedding in the Panhandle around the end of May, depending on water temperatures. Shellcracker continue spawning into August.

Redbreast sunfish, also known as river bream and redbellies, are the flowing water cousins of bluegill. Redbellies are more common in rivers than bluegill, and often can be found in backwater areas with less flow. The same baits that work for bluegill will catch redbreast sunfish.

The spotted sunfish, or stumpknocker, is an often overlooked stream panfish. Aptly named, stumpknockers can be found in the tangle of roots at the water’s edge. Although spotted sunfish rarely exceed 8 inches, these feisty species provide great sport on light tackle. Tiny (1/16-ounce) beetle spins pitched close to shore can be deadly, particularly tipped with freshwater clam meat.



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