Panfish Fishing In Colorado For 2024
Guide to fishing for panfish, sunfish, perch and bluegill in lakes and ponds.
2024 Pan Fish Fishing Options
Bluegill Fishing Basics Video
The core principles shown in this video will work for most sunfish, perch and other panfish.
What Are Panfish?
Sunfish and panfish are terms encompassing various freshwater species like bluegill, sunfish, and perch. Panfish are opportunistic feeders, consuming a diverse array of prey. Their diets commonly consist of aquatic insects, small crustaceans, and even smaller fish. However, different species of sunfish preferences may shift based on seasonal variations and local conditions. During warmer months, when insect activity is high, panfish tend to focus more on insects and larvae. As temperatures drop, they may switch to feeding on smaller fish, worms or crustaceans.
Types Of Panfish
Mostly from the sunfish family, panfish that we cover in this website include bluegill, eight species of sunfish, rock bass, white and yellow bass, and white and yellow perch. Panfish are prolific spawners and repopulate the waters as fast as they are harvested.
Bluegill, perch and sunfish generally range from less than half a pound to over 4 or 5 pounds at world-record size. The world record for tilapia is over 9 pounds.
Fishing For Panfish
Sunish are eager feeders, making them an excellent target for youth fishing outings. The most popular method is using ultralight tackle, such as light rods and small reels, paired with tiny hooks and light line - ideally 2-6-pound.
Annually, panfish exhibit predictable movement patterns influenced mostly by water temperature and spawning instincts. As temperatures rise in spring, panfish migrate from deeper waters towards shallow areas, where they spawn. This migration provides anglers with prime opportunities to catch panfish, as they tend to congregate in large numbers. At this time, they will be found in shallow bays, spawning beds, or near submerged vegetation. In summer and winter they drop into deeper water.
Pan Fish Baits And Lures
Baits like live worms, insect larvae, and small minnows are commonly used to entice bites. Tiny jigs, spinners, soft plastics, and prepared baits are also effective. Miniature size is important to mimic the delicate feeding habits of freshwater panfish. A small bobber or float can be attached to the line to suspend the bait at a desired depth. Experiment with colors and sizes to match the preferences of the targeted species.
Common Sunfish Species In Colorado
One of the easiest fish to catch, all types of bluegill are eager to take most types of sunfish bait and lures. They are sight feeders and prefer slightly stained water with little or no current. Bluegill tend to run in schools and congregate near their food supply. These aggressive eaters can survive in most warm-water fisheries, preferring water temperatures ranging from 60° to 85°. Ideal hook sizes are #6 to #10.
Another species that adds variety to panfish fishing in the state is the green sunfish. While they may not be as numerous as bluegill, they are still sought after by many anglers. The green sunfish is native to lakes and ponds and prefers areas with heavy vegetation or other cover. Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 8 to size 12 hook.
A high percentage of the hybrid sunfish are male, which limits the reproductive process. They do quite well in private ponds and small lakes, and prefer areas with heavy vegetation and cover. They have very small mouths, so use size 10, to size 12 hooks.
Also known as shellcrackers, redear sunfish are less common but can be found in certain waters throughout Colorado. They are slightly larger than bluegill and are recognized for their distinctive red ear flap. The red stripe along the edge of the ears is the distinguishing mark for males, and is orange on females. Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 8 to size 10 hook.
Native to the eastern half of the USA, the rock bass is good eating and fun to catch. You can find rock bass in streams and rivers where they prefer clear water with rocky bottom and vegetation. The rock bass, aka goggle-eye, green sunfish and sometimes branch perch, prefers water temperatures from 64 to 72 degrees., Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 8 to size 12 hook.
Often called sand bass, stripes, barfish and silver bass, white bass have silver sides with horizontal dark stripes. They are a good fighter, fun to catch and tend to run in schools, often schools of several hundred or more. Their primary diet is bait fish and other smaller fish but they also eat worms and insects. Fish for white bass on light tackle with jigs, spoons, minnow-imitation lures and live bait.
Yellow perch are found in ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers, ideally in clear water near vegetation. They are often misnamed as perch, rock perch and many other names. Their primary diet consists of minnows and other small fish, insects and worms. Yellow perch prefer water temperatures from 66 to 70 degrees but remain active in temperatures outside this range. They are a favorite of many ice fishing enthusiasts.
Panfish fishing in Colorado is a great way to introduce kids to the joys of fishing. The small size of these fish makes them perfect for small anglers. Their willingness to bite ensures a positive experience for young anglers. Taking kids fishing is a great investment in their future. With numerous youth fishing events and family-friendly locations across the state, panfish fishing in Colorado is a fantastic way to create lasting memories and foster a love for the outdoors in the next generation of anglers.
Best Panfish, Bluegill, Sunfish & Perch Lakes In 2024
Adobe Creek Reservoir, Aurora Reservoir, Blue Mesa Reservoir, Bonny Reservoir, Carter Lake, Chatfield Reservoir, Cherry Creek Reservoir, Echo Canyon Reservoir, Hollenbeck Reservoir, Horsetooth Reservoir, John Martin Reservoir, Lathrop State Park, McPhee Reservoir, Navajo Reservoir, North Delaney Lake, North Sterling Reservoir, Pueblo Reservoir, Quincy Reservoir, Ridgway Reservoir, Rifle Gap Reservoir, Ruedi Reservoir, Sloan Lake, Standley Lake and Williams Fork Reservoir all have a healthy population of panfish. The state record bluegill came from Hollenbeck Reservoir.
Colorado State Fish Records
In-state panfish, sunfish and perch
World record: 4 lbs 12 oz
State Record: 2 lbs 5 oz
World record: 2.2 lbs
State Record: 1 lbs 5 oz
World record: N/A
State Record: 1 lbs 8.5 oz
World record: 5.4 lbs
State Record: 15.2 oz
World record: 3.0 lbs
State Record: 1 lbs 1.25 oz
World record: 6.8 lbs
State Record: 4 lbs 7 oz
World record: 4 lbs 3 oz
State Record: 2 lbs 9 oz
Click the images and links above for species details.
The state record bluegill was taken from Comanche Power Plant.
The state record green sunfish (tie) - one was caught from Big Thompson Pond and the other from a gravel pit.
The state record hybrid sunfish came from a gravel pit.
The state record redear sunfish came from Stalker Lake.
Ramah Reservoir was home to the state record rock bass.
Blue Lake was home to the state record white bass.
Seaman Reservoir served up the state record yellow perch.
Sunfish fishing information in other states.
Learn the lifecycle of a panfish
There is a host of panfish anglers can pursue. Visit the panfish fishing page for details on many of these sunfish you might encounter in Colorado fishing waters.