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Fish: Orangespotted Sunfish

orange spotted sunfish

Post By: ripley      Posted: 8/17/2011 12:45:25 PM     Points: 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
 Reply by: Bassackwards      Posted: 8/17/2011 12:51:15 PM     Points: 1040    
looks like a juvenile bluegill to me.
 Reply by: ripley      Posted: 8/17/2011 2:10:35 PM     Points: 95    
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.
 Reply by: Flyrodn      Posted: 8/17/2011 2:45:52 PM     Points: 184621    
It looks like a bluegill to me. There is a lot of variation within a species especially young. Here is our work on the Orange spotted sunfish. [log in for link]

This link might help in your search, as it has a link to past occurances data. Limited but it will give you a place to start.
 Reply by: BiggieSmalls      Posted: 8/17/2011 4:11:28 PM     Points: 1252    
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.

 Reply by: roughfisher      Posted: 8/23/2011 3:30:32 PM     Points: 52    
Sorry that's a juvi Bluegill.

Orangspots are cool fish though, keep at it.

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.
 Reply by: ripley      Posted: 8/23/2011 4:04:03 PM     Points: 95    
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.
 Reply by: roughfisher      Posted: 8/23/2011 8:31:20 PM     Points: 52    
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]
 Reply by: roughfisher      Posted: 8/24/2011 12:16:15 PM     Points: 52    
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.

Good luck