A Love of Longear

I recently revisited that old brownline from last year to see how the fish were doing. As Spring progresses into Summer there are still a few local species I can add to my catch list for the 2022 edition of the Red Stick Fly Fishers Jambalaya Challenge, and I was hoping to do that here.

The water in the ditch was low and clear and made for some exciting and challenging sight fishing. We’ve had drastically less rainfall this year when compared with last. We had the wettest year I’ve ever seen in Baton Rouge last year, but this Spring we’ve been dealing it’s been a mild drought. A mild drought here just means more of these ditches are fishable as the water isn’t super dirty from runoff, so in terms of my local fishing a drought is not the worst thing.

When I walked up to the first “hole” I could see the male sunfish actively protecting their beds. You could see the blues, greens, reds, and orange flanks of sunfish flash through the water as they swam in circles around their nest. These fish will do this all summer as they spawn multiple times in a year. Here in south Louisiana we have a much longer spawning season than locations to the north, so you may see male fish on their bed from March through September, depending on the species of sunfish. I’ve noticed they don’t all spawn at the time. As they are doing this the bass are not far away. They patrol the periphery and show up when they see an opportunity to prey on a weakened fish. The bass have already spawned this Spring, so they’re ready to eat. I targeted the bass first, catching a few small ones, but really today was a sunfish-fest. They are so aggressive this time of year it’s hard keeping them off the hook.

Largemouth bass
Redspotted sunfish
Bluegill

When I call it a sunfish-fest, it was really the longear sunfish-fest. They were the stars of the show today and I love them for it. They are arguably the most attractive fish in any body of water at any time, but right now, in full spawning regalia, they really are putting on a show. Their variability, even within the same stretch of stream, is impressive. Some are more blue or turquoise while others have more reds and oranges. The size of their opercle is never consistent; on some fish they are quite large, and others they are not. The forehead too. They don’t have a massive cranium like a Rio Grande cichlid, but they can develop a case of fivehead and make for interesting looking fish. I sometimes catch longear, especially the larger ones, with long black tendril-like tips on their pelvic fins. There is just so much to look at on a longear and I think it’s cool how no two look the same.

I was having a great time catching longear and seeing how different they were from fish to fish, but I had yet to catch a species I had not logged this year to up my Jambalaya challenge tally. I made it to a bit bigger “hole” where I found a few spotted gar. They looked like they were busy doing the spawning thing too and really weren’t interested in flies. Soon after I found one tucked up next to the bank I was standing on and ran a blind Clouser minnow (a poorly tied Clouser that lost his lead eyes) and had a strike and a hookup. I quickly muscled him onto the bank where the fly broke off and the fish began to flop. I took a quick pic and got him back in the water. Not ideal, but like Charlie Kelly, gar are wildcards.

2 comments
  1. Nice report. Longears are beautiful fish. I’ve caught three garfish in my neighborhood lake this week after not catching any for a very long time. I was glad I was wearing long pants because when I released one of them, it thrashed and stuck its teeth into my pants, which would have been my shin had I been wearing shorts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cole Miller said:

    Thanks Ben – your report brought me back to when I was a kid ! I used to spend several weeks every summer with my Aunt and Uncle at their house on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs . I would spend hours both in a boat or wading the shoreline with my first fly rod catching Longears ON PURPOSE ( my uncle called them Pumpkinseeds). My friends thought I was crazy fishing for them . I miss those days !

    Cole Miller
    Director of Training

    [cid:image001.jpg@01D874CE.59DD9B10]
    For Dealers, By Dealers—in Louisiana

    Louisiana Dealer Services Insurance, Inc.
    P. O. Drawer 83480 (70884)
    9016 Bluebonnet Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70810
    CELL │ 225.921.9192
    DIRECT │ 225.768.6210
    MAIN │ 800.272.8000 x 110
    FAX │ 225.769.5797
    EMAIL │ cole.miller@theLDSgroup.com
    WEB │ http://www.theLDSgroup.com

    Confidentially Notice: This Message and any attachments are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom the transmission is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, or agent responsible for delivering the message to the intended recipient, please note that any dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender by return email or by telephone at number provided above delete it from your system.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: