Fish Plentiful in Waters
Inside the Outdoors, August 29,
2015

“And what has he been catching lately,” one may ask? I caught a good number of rock bass between 11 and 15 inches long.” Just for the record, he threw them all back.

“What is the biggest rock bass you’ve ever landed,” I asked. “I caught one roughly 22 inches from my grand pap’s farm in Saltsburg,” he stated. Now that folks is a dandy of a fish!

Bait-wise, he prefers using spinners and fake night crawlers.

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When fly fisherman Jarod Trunzo, executive director of the Latrobe Community Revitalization Program, emailed me a picture of his catch to inquire exactly what type of fish he caught in the Loyalhanna Creek, I was dumbfounded. Believe that one!

The fish resembled a bass but had the head markings of a bluegill. What threw me was the length of the fish in the picture.

So when I emailed Trunzo and told him he had me puzzled, he stated, “Let’s called them, ‘Latrobeans.’ They are everywhere!” As much as I would like that to go down in the record books, I’m afraid it’s a no-go.

I took the next step and contacted Rick Lorson, area fisheries manager of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and asked him what the mysterious fish was.

“It’s a green sunfish,” he said. I was just as bewildered then as I was at the beginning of this whole story. I had to contact the Latrobe resident and tell the angler what he had hauled in. As part of our give and take conversation, I stated, “How big was that fish you photographed.” “About eight inches,” he said. I had to ask, because the image appeared to be all of 16 inches instead of half of that.

Lorson referred to the website, http://fishandboat.com/fishhtms/chap22.htm which I printed out for reference. I knew this state official had given me valid information.

It so happens that this fish is a member of the sunfish family. It was originally confined to the fresh water of North America east of the Rocky Mountains. Some of the, especially the basses, have been widely stocked for sport across the United States and in other countries.

In many places, sunfishes are the dominant fishes of warmwater habitats. They typical live in warm, rocky, weedy lakes and slow-moving streams. In Pennsylvania, the sunfishes are distributed across the state, although a few species have restricted ranges.

Family members other than our prize catch, the Green Sunfish, include the Reader, Redbreast, Banded, Blackbanded, and Bluespotted Sunfish, Rock Bass, Bluegill, Smallmouth, Largemouth, and Spotted Bass, White and Black Crappie.

And now a little about our attention-getter today.

The Green Sunfish was originally found west of the Appalachian Mountains, throughout the Mississippi watershed. It has been introduced elsewhere in the East, and is now found in most of Pennsylvania, although not in great numbers.

Its back and sides are olive, with a blue-green sheen and small, scattered dark specks. The lower sides and the belly have a brassy-gold tint and the head has bright-blue spots or lines. The gill flap is black with a pale-red, pink or yellow edge, and the pectoral fins are short and rounded. There is a black blotch on the rear portion of the dorsal fin and at the base of the anal fin.

The Green Sunfish’s mouth is larger and the lips are heavier than in most sunfish. The top jaw extends past the front of the eye. Dorsal, caudal and anal fins are edged with a white, yellow, or orange border. They reach eight or nine inches in length.

As being plentiful in waters of the Loyalhanna, he also stated, “There are lots of them in Keystone State Park and Twin Lakes, as well!

It’s funny, as the saying goes, as much as I love catching bluegill, I don’t think I’ve ever caught a Green Sunfish.

“They love flies,” the father of three young girls stated. “I have gotten so many on Gray Wulff’s. They will hit white flies also.”

A matter of fact, he has even involved his young daughters in the sport. When the girls accompanied their dad to St. Vincent Lake, one found a stick, tied some string to it and then a fly. Her innovative methods proved worthy. She caught fish!


- Paul J. Volkmann
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