Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   



Reel Easy

Summertime Sunfish

LADY BIRD LAKE IS A GREAT PLACE  to catch bream from the bank or a kayak right in the heart of Austin. Surveys show excellent populations of redear, bluegill and redbreast sunfish, and happy anglers can attest to the accuracy of those surveys. In fact, the state record redear sunfish was caught on Lady Bird in 1997, weighing 2.99 pounds.

Bream (pronounced brim) are mostly sunfish, cherished by anglers for their fight and their flavor. These little treasures are aptly named for easy identification. The longear sunfish has a noticeably long ear; with other sunfish, you can spot that red ear or blue gill and know its name, too.

All of that makes bream especially great for kids to target. Many anglers fondly recall the first time they caught a sunfish as a kid.

Bank access can be found around the lake, mainly in gaps in the vegetation along the shoreline. Try the boardwalk, where fish attractors were installed at the designated fishing area to increase fishing success.

Kayak fishing provides great access to bream angling opportunities. There are eight kayak access locations found at the lake — find them at TPWD’s paddling trail website.

For two years, the submerged aquatic plant fanwort has expanded throughout Lady Bird Lake, providing excellent habitat for bream. Fishing along the edge between the plants and the open water is a great way to target good-sized bream. Fanwort can disappear with a single high-flow event, so take advantage of it when you can.

Think small when you fish for bream: small jigs, small spinner baits. Of course, tried-and-true night crawlers (or other live baits) are excellent ways to entice these fish, both from the shoreline and kayak. Size 6 hooks are the go-to when using live bait.

More adventurous anglers looking for more variety should target the creeks that enter Lady Bird. Shoal Creek near the Austin Central Library offers a great spot to observe the colorful longear sunfish, along with Rio Grande cichlids and green sunfish. These species are not as readily encountered in the main lake.

Look for upcoming habitat and shoreline access improvements on Lady Bird Lake to stabilize eroded banks, control invasive vegetation and improve angler access at three sites. TPWD's Habitat and Angler Access Program is partnering with the City of Austin and the Trail Foundation for this project. 

 Chase Fountain | TPWD

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