Post By: ripley Posted: 8/17/2011 12:45:25 PMPoints: 95
So I have been trying to catch an orange spotted sunfish for over a year now and have not had a lot of luck. I caught this fish and was wondering if it might be a juvenile or female orange spotted sunfish. I caught it at horse thief pond near Watson. I unfortunately do not have a better picture. Also if anyone has any tips on catching these I would greatly appreciate any advice. I have been fishing horse thief and city park lake mostly. But I also tried a small lake in Greely that the NDIS NREL site said had them. I have caught well over 1000 bluegills and green sunfish at these lakes and unless this is one I have not been able to land an orange spot. At horse thief I have tried to sight fish for the lighter ones but no luck just a lot of lighter bluegills. Thanks
I have caught a ton of juevenile bluegill from this lake and they are not this light and do not have orange on the tail but it could be just a different color variation. I wish I had a better picture and a pic of the operculum to be more sure.
It's really tough to tell a juvenile sunfish by it's colors. The Orange tail makes it a little confusing. I have caught Orange Spotted sunfish, just not in CO. They are easy to confuse with a Pumpkinseed.
ID keys would be: -spots (orange on the male, brown on the female) -black gill flap with a white ring around it -red eyes -body shape kind of like a Green Sunfish
See pics of female and male OSS below.
I catch all mine very shallow. 2' deep at absolute max and typically more in the 6"-10" of water range. Yes that is less than 1' of water. Turbid water is generally better, both in terms of populations and angling success. Fish gravel/sand or next to overhanging rocks. Weeds/brush are rarely worth the effort. Connection to a river system is generally a bonus. Tiny floats (thill mini shy bite) are handy, stick with small hooks (I like #16 fly hooks). For bait a tiny scrap of worm or half a wax worm will work great. Flies in the sub-#16 range will work at times as well.
Thanks for the info, it is really hard to find info on these fish because no one targets them. Do you have any advice on locations for them. I have tried several in the fort collins with no Luck. I have not had any problem catching small fish some less than an inch. I use a #18 or 20 baitholder hook with half a powerbait ice fishing maggot thingy or a mealworm or a variety of flies. My problem has been finding the right fish. But I think from what you have said I might have been targeting the wrong areas of the lakes I fish. I have been going for the reedy areas with muddy bottoms, but still really shallow. I have caught a lot of small bluegills in less than 6" of water. Also what is the average size you have been able to catch I have heard they can get as big as 4" but have been targeting fish in the 1-2" range mostly.
I'd talk to your local fisheries biologist, they might be willing and able to point you to good areas to look. I'm no longer in CO, I was only there for a few years - back in Wisconsin now. I do know they are in the south platte and lowest parts of the poudre, supposedly at least. Might be worth checking some shallow, slow moving/stagnant water in those rivers too. I didn't actually target OSS in CO, because I've caught them here in the midwest - I mostly targeted species not found around here when I was living there.
I know that what I (and others who target them) have found is that the habitat is critical. They prefer hard bottom, ideally sand or gravel. And like I said under larger rocks can be good as well. I think if you are fishing the right way but in the wrong spots. I tend to catch fairly few other sunfish in OSS spots, maybe the occasional Bluegill or Green sunfish but not many of either.
Here is a good article on targeting OSS written by a guy I know: [log in for link]
Oh and on size - most of the ones I catch in Mississippi River backwaters are 2"-3" long. I occasionally get them up around 4" on the top end. I do know of one 5" female OSS that was was C&R'ed in WI so "bigger" ones do exist.
Be sure to post up if you find 'em. I don't visit this site much anymore but it would be cool to see someone being successful with OSS fishing in CO.