Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A November Spent Searching for The Elusive Banded Sunfish

For the past three weekends, we tried catching banded sunfish, one of the 13 species left to catch on our quest.
Banded Sunfish (Enneacanthus obesus) from Wikipedia CC
This fish only gets three and a half inches long and they are listed as a species of Special Concern in the state due to their limited range in southeastern NH and vulnerability to habitat destruction. They live in swampy ponds into which some developers just love to divert polluted stormwater.

They are listed as Special Concern for us because we can't catch one.

There is very little written about fishing techniques for banded sunfish and nothing on fall fishing for them. We have tried two areas that fisheries biologists reported seeing them in the recent past, but no luck so far.

We tried Ice Pond in Hampton:
Shout out to the NH Coastal Program and NHDES who helped Hampton manage this conservation land. 
Nice looking banded sunfish habitat.

I checked every sunfish that came in at the right size: notched tail  = not a banded

We experienced inverted fishing: We were disappointed anytime we hooked into a fish too big to be a banded.  Beautiful male bluegill in fall colors. 

Nice looking pond and a zillion small sunfish.

Pumpkinseeds came to the party too. A bit big still. 

All of these fish were very dark. We wondered if they were matching the dark , dead vegetation in the pond. The little red edge on the gill cover indicates this is a pumpkinseed. Size #20 hook and a piece of redworm worked.

And a pond in Lee:

Perfect habitat for banded sunfish: shallow, brown water, weedy, in Southeastern NH.
Phragmites around 20% of the pond. The old reeds in the water create an impenetrable catacomb that we just know protect banded sunfish. 
Another sunken boat.  Moby banded sunfish strikes again. 

We are hoping that winter will focus these fish into the deepest part of the pond, since during the summer they like to swim in dense vegetation. We can then target them icefishing, using sonor and light jigging poles. Until next time Moby.

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