Bluegill Sunfish - Lepomis macrochirus


fish: bluegill sunfish
Duane Raver/USFWS
Click on picture to enlarge

Oklahoma Distribution – Due to widespread hatchery stockings, bluegill are found statewide in all types of water.

Description - A relatively large, deep-bodied sunfish with a small mouth, black opercular (ear) flap, and a black spot at the rear base of the dorsal fin. (Click on picture to enlarge)

Habitat – Young bluegill frequent shallow, weedy areas near shore, while adults prefer deeper water during the day and shallows in the morning and evening.

Natural Food Sources – Insects, crustaceans, larvae and snails. Occasionally bluegill eat aquatic plants.

Spawning – Spawning occurs throughout the summer after temperatures reach 75 degrees F. Bluegill are gregarious spawners, constructing colonies of nests on the spawning grounds. Males prepare a nest by excavating a small depression in sand or gravel in water one to three feet deep. Female produce an average of 40,000 eggs per season. After eggs are deposited and fertilized, the males drive the females from the nest and guard the eggs, leaving the young a few days after hatching.

Facts – Young bluegill are important farm pond forage fish for bass and catfish. However, the high reproductive rate of bluegill often results in overcrowded populations of stunted fish. This problem can be controlled by restricting harvest of largemouth bass. Bluegill seldom exceed 12 inches in length and a one–pound fish is considered large.