The strawberry bass, more commonly known as the redear sunfish,
is one of the most under-fished members of the sunfish clan.
One of the biggest reasons redear are so under-fished is the fact they
are rather difficult to find once one spawning season is over. Redear
prefer the deeper water and, therefore, will retreat to such habitat
once their spawning habits are fulfilled.
Again, the redear sunfish is a member of the sunfish family. They have
a yellow-green colored body and are distinguished by the reddish margin
on the edge of the ear flap. The pectoral fin located just behind the
gill cover is long and pointed.
The scientific name for the redear is Lepomis microlpphus.
You might recognize these other names for the redear: shell cracker (when
eating snails the shell is completely crushed and expelled from the mouth,
hence the name shell cracker), stump-knocker (for its love of leafy brush
and stumps), and redear perch.
A fish which closely resembles the redear is the pumpkinseed sunfish. You
can easily tell these two apart by the ear flaps. The pumpkinseed has a red
spot rather than a red margin, as well as blue and orange stripes on its cheeks.
Redear will thrive in most warm-water lakes and streams. Their range
has greatly expanded from its original southern home. Beginning in the
spring, redear will spawn just after the largemouth bass. They nest in
groups like bluegill, but would rather nest in some type of cover. This
is the time when you can catch them on top-water baits.
Redear are not your typical top-water feeders, but during the spawn
they will attack a variety of surface stuff. Poppers usually work best,
but an assortment of terrestrials should fair well for you. Once the
spawn is over, though, look for these tactics to fail you. Keep in
mind also that big redear, like big bluegill, will nest in just a little
deeper water. If you keep hooking those smaller ones in the
shallows, then it pays to work water just a little deeper.
Just after the spawn, redear head to deeper water and feed on
insects and their larvae. Snails and midge fly larvae or blood
worms are also favorite foods. Rarely now will they head to
the surface for food. Therefore, at this time you must respect
their feeding habits and go to the fish.
Your exact tackle will be determined by the depth of the water that
you predict the fish are in. First and foremost, however, is your fly
line. At this time you will have to go to either a sinking tip or full
sinking line (the latter being the best). Remember you are going
to have to take your fly to the fish, which could mean waters of
10-feet or more, with more being the likely case.
Leaders should be at least 7 ½ feet tapered to 4X. Now if you find
the fish in heavy cover, you will have to go to a heavier tippet. And
eight-foot, five-weight rod is ideal, but make sure your equipment
matches up. ~ Kevin Wright
Next time the flies!