How to Catch Sunfish In Minnesota: A Quick and Helpful Guide

Sunfish are one of the most common fish you can find in North America, being especially popular in Minnesota! That’s why you’ve got anglers heading towards the water to aim for these delicious fish species. In fact, fishing for sunfish is a favorite Minnesota pastime because of its abundance in many of the state’s lakes and rivers.

But what equipment and technique should you use to catch them? When and where in Minnesota should you catch them? Prepare ahead and read on as I show you tips on how to catch sunfish in Minnesota to help you out.

How to Catch Sunfish In Minnesota

catch sunfish in minnesota

The summer tradition in Minnesota is sunfish, but just because they are abundant doesn’t mean it’s easy to catch them anytime and anywhere!

With that said, learn about these facts and tips to catch as many sunfish as you can and hone your fishing skills:

1. When to Fish

In Minnesota, you can fish all year round for sunfish! However, you do have to be wary about the fishing regulations set within the state. There may be certain times and seasons when you aren’t allowed to fish, as well as limitations on how many sunfish you can catch.

Once you went over the fishing rules and regulations, you can plan out when the best time to fish for sunfish is. For this particular state, it’s best to fish for sunfish during the spring and early summer, as that’s when their spawn season begins!

You are better off fishing for sunfish as the water temperatures and weather warms. They’ll be in shallower areas at this time, and you’re best off fishing during the early or late parts of the day.

However, you can still fish for sunfish during autumn and still get a bite, especially during the mid-day when the waters are still a bit warm.

2. Where to Fish

The location on where you should fish for sunfish varies from season to season.

During the spring and early summer, you can find sunfish in shallower waters, where they spawn. The nesting sunfish are easier to catch as males will guard nests and attack anything they see as a threat. Most of your wriggling baits can trigger a strike and bite!

Once mid to late summer comes along, large sunfish will move to waters deeper than ten feet. You can find them along with the sunken brush, weediness, rocky points, underwater humps, as well as other structure types. They are usually above the thermocline or the depth where water temperatures will change dramatically.

During the fall season, you can find sunfish in their usual late summer locations. You’ll find them in shallower areas near bulrush beds, weed beds, or other cover types.

The key here is to always focus along weed lines, since sunfish like staying around weeds and brushes.

3. How to Fish

Take note that sunfish are relatively small, so you have to think small when choosing your technique. In fact, ten inches is already considered a big sunfish, with eight inches being the average length.

So you will need to use small lures, hooks, baits, bobbers, or small weights when attaching to thin lines. There are three common techniques when catching sunfish, which are:

Bobber Fishing

Bobber fishing is the most popular method when catching sunfish for its ease of use and effectivity.

All you need to do is to use a small bobber (shaped like pencils than balls), which sunfish won’t spit out. Next, use a very thin line, a 4-lb pound test as much as possible. The thinner, the better!

During spawning season, cast beyond the bed and slowly retrieve your bait awards the fish, reducing any spooking.


Try to cast tiny spinnerbaits or artificial lures. Sunfish will usually bite 1/32-ounce jigs that are dropped and raised. You can also try to strike a slow-moving and beetle-spin type of lure.

Fly Fishing

This is another great way to catch sunfish during the spring AKA spawning season. Use an artificial fly that resembles insects to produce more action, since sunfish love to feed on small insects.

You can also try other fly fishing lures like rubber spiders, poppers, black ants, or insects with winged patterns.

When you cast, fight, and reel in your sunfish, be careful! While they have no teeth, they have sharp dorsal fin spines. Be wary when unhooking it by holding it vertically. Place your hands at the sunfish’s end and move it towards its tail to retract the spines safely.

4. What to Prepare

Your fishing equipment can make or break your chances of getting a bite.

When aiming for small fish like the sunfish, you can use a light spinning rod paired with a reel using a 4-lb pound test monofilament line. Or, you can use a telescopic cane pole if you are a beginner or teaching your children how to fish.

As for hooks, use small hooks as mentioned, sized No. 6 or No. 10 with long shanks, which makes it easier to unhook from fish mouths. Use small split shots so you can attach it to the line, around one foot above your hook and below your bobber. The split shots you’ll add to the line depends on the bobber size, so find balance and add enough weight without sinking your bobber.

Read More: Fishing With Crickets For Crappie: A Good or Bad Idea?

Do you want to learn more about the sunfish and how to catch them? This video shows you more techniques and advice:

Wrapping It Up

When fishing in Minnesota, you can’t miss out on getting a few sunfish. They can put up a fight and test your fishing skills and make great table fare, so you have to gear up and ready your techniques! With the right knowledge and equipment, you can have better success and improve your chances of getting more sunfish.

Hopefully, this article on how to catch sunfish in Minnesota helped you out! If you’re planning to head on fishing soon, keep these tips in mind to bring home some sunfish for your next dinner.

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