you have ever fished east of Little Rock, you probably know them
as rice-field slicks.
Susanne Shepherd was delighted to hold a green sunfish for
her father's camera in 1971 in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
nationally accepted common name is green sunfish. Ask your area
fisheries biologist if you want to know the scientific name.
more than 40 years, I have known them as trip-savers. Green sunfish
live practically everywhere
there is water in Arkansas. They bite almost any bait or artificial
lure thrown into swamps, rivers, streams, ponds, lakes and reservoirs.
first big green sunfish hit a cricket I was dunking in a north Louisiana
farm pond. My largest one hit a tiny jig and spinner combination
in a farm pond in Fayetteville. It weighed nearly 2 pounds. Shaped
like a rock bass or a warmouth, green sunfish are relatively long
and thick in proportion to the depth of their bodies. They are seined
from lowland waters for catfish bait and pursued with flyrods and
tiny artificials in mountain streams. They eat almost everything
they find and survive diverse water conditions.
chemicals, low oxygen levels, high water temperatures you
name a bad condition, and green sunfish are apt to survive it.
on a bluff overlooking Scull Creek inside a Fayetteville city park
recently, I noticed a small waterfall where rocks create a ledge.
half-pound green sunfish spotted me and sped from the shallow end
of the pool below the waterfall to the ledge. A few minutes later,
the fish ventured into the light again, followed soon by three smaller
members of its clan.
situation wouldn't be surprising to anyone who didn't know the condition of the water in the small stream. People unfamiliar with
Ozark streams, however, might be surprised to see a fish that large
in such a tiny body of water.
would I be surprised to find a school of hardy green sunfish in
the pool? For one thing, the water in the creek is polluted by untreated
sewage each time a heavy rain occurs. The city's ancient sewers
fill with water and overflow into storm drains and into the creek.
The city has had the water tested and signs warn children not to
play in the water where the creek passes through Wilson Park.
effect of the raw sewage is mitigated in summer by a different kind
of pollution. The city swimming pool, only 100 yards upstream from
the little waterfall, drains its chlorinated water directly into
the stream frequently in summer. At normal flow, the stream doesn't
appear dirty. In fact, the creek is inviting to youngsters. But
how can green sunfish survive there? And what small creatures live
there to provide food for the hardy species of bream?
minnows and fewer crawdads appear in the stretch of the creek inside
the park. But green sunfish are resourceful. In summer, they probably
stay fat because of the insects that fall from the overhanging bushes
Creek clearly isn't the worst habitat in which green sunfish succeed.