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TenkaraBum Challenge - Orangespotted Sunfish

by Levi Cain
(Blanchard, OK, USA)

size 30 Black Killer Bugger

size 30 Black Killer Bugger

Itching to increase my count for the challenge I spent my Saturday hitting various creeks near my house. The targets for the day were mostly micros but I was also hoping to find a certain species of sunfish and some crappie.

My first stop for the day was one of the headwater streams that flowed into Walnut Creek. This little stream is wide enough to step across the majority of its length and holds certain species that have never been surveyed in any part of Walnut Creek before.

As I arrived at the water's edge I could see all sorts of species swimming around. From various sunfish species, to bass, shiners, and even a few bullhead catfish. However, mother nature just did not want to be nice that day. Because like always it was windy as all get out. I attempted to place my fly near the bullhead catfish but would lose sight of my fly as soon as I would let go of it. My tenkara fly line might as well have been a kite the way it was flying through the air. So after sharing some words with mother nature, I started heading down stream in the hopes of finding a pool that was large enough to allow me to really give some power to my casts. Enable to force my line to where I wanted it and allow me enough room to drop the tip of my rod. Enable to escape most the wind.

I didn't have to travel too far downstream before I came onto a nice little pool that I could see a couple tiny bass and some sunfish swimming around in. I gave a few casts and instantly got attention. However, I just could not get the hook set with my size 30 Black Killer Bugger fly that I had made that same morning.

Then finally success, I watched as a small sunfish followed my fly so I paused on the retrieve and allowed it to sink. Sure enough the sunfish couldn't resist and sucked it right in so I set the hook. Even though it was tiny I still let it tire itself out a little before I landed it.

When I finally had it in hand I was surprised to find that I had just caught an Orangespotted Sunfish. So I quickly snapped a few pictures and released the little guy enable to get back to fishing. Because there was at least one more sunfish species that I still needed to catch. And within a couple minutes I had another Orangespotted Sunfish on. This one was a little bigger and was even slightly darker in coloration. But due in part to the wind, it also happened to be my last fish caught at that stream. So I gathered my gear and set off to find another creek to try.

Comments for TenkaraBum Challenge - Orangespotted Sunfish

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Oct 05, 2018
Not an Orangespotted
by: Sizuper

Hi, hate to be a buzzkill, but that's definitely not an orangespotted sunfish. Just doesn't have any of the telltale markings of an orangespotted. Mainly no dark orange spots or striping on the operculum. No bright reddish-orange spots anywhere, and missing the heavy white border on the gill flap. The young ones this size usually have dusky vertical bars, which this doesn't, either. Also, eye position is wrong: the upper jaw generally extends to the center of the eye - this one doesn't reach the front of the eye.

Could be a very muted White Plains Longear Sunfish, because it's the most orange pf the longears and also the only longear subspecies that often lacks the white margin on the gill flap, however it should have some blue coloring on it (a lot, actually), and the gill flap should be at least 2-times longer.

But what I think you've got there is a hybrid or a pure Dollar Sunfish. You're right near the outer end of its western range, and the eye, the markings and the gill flap match the less colorful Dollars. Looks like it has the dead giveaway small red dots along the lateral line.

May 11, 2014
Its not a Redbreasted Sunfish
by: Levi Cain

Already see this one coming. Redbreasted Sunfish are an eastern United States fish. The only introduced population of Redbreasted Sunfish in Oklahoma is in the SE corner of the state in the Red River system. The creek this fish was caught from is in the Central part of Oklahoma and is part of the Arkansas River System. There has also been no recorded record of the Redbreasted Sunfish in any part of Walnut Creek.

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