Species: Redspotted Sunfish (Lepomis miniatus)
Location: New Braunfels, Texas
Date: August 25, 2018
I was infatuated with Redspotted Sunfish before I’d ever seen one in person.
It was during 2018 that my #SpeciesQuest really came alive. Though my first road trip had come the prior summer, I only had a few days in transit to and from Alabama. This summer was designed in part around fishing and in part around work. From 2019 on, I got my priorities straight and saved the summers for fishing alone.
Summer 2018 poured fuel on the fire that was already beginning to rage into an inferno. Prior to 2018, I’d caught just 119 species. During 2018, I added 111 more, nearly doubling my total. It was the first year I added more than 100 new species. Three years into that pattern, I’ve gone from just another Lifelister to a contender on the world’s stage, and it was fishes like the Redspotted Sunfish that shaped me into what I’ve become.
I can’t pretend to love shiners and grunts and the unexciting smaller fish. Sure, I’ll catch them to tally the number, but I’m not inspired by many of them. Not so with Redspotted Sunfish and other breathtakingly beautiful micros and other small fish.
I tried more than a dozen spots where Redspotteds were supposed to swim before I finally found one. It was in an unlikely place, as I dangled a line below the countless tubers taking advantage of the Schlitterbahn waterpark in New Braunfels. Fishing was allowed, and I had to go through a bunch of big smallies before I finally got my actual target: Redspotted Sunfish.
The spectrum of colors that serve as the fish’s namesake ranged from blood red to a pale orange. Each fish had purple outlines, a red eye, and a cerulean line of eyeshadow beneath the eye itself.
I was stunned with their beauty. Tilapia crowded and bullied the sunfish, but they held their own as they dodged invasive tilapia, bass, and tubers. They weren’t tough to catch (they’re sunfish, after all), but I really felt proud about getting this fish. In the years since, I’ve caught just a handful of them in Missouri and nowhere else. Though I caught 18 new species while stationed in San Antonio for school, the Redspotted Sunfish was undoubtedly my favorite.
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#SpeciesQuest // #CaughtOvgard
Read the next entry in #SpeciesQuest here: Species #191 — Texas Shiner.