Sunfish (Lepomis microlophus/ cyanellus/ auritus/ macrochirus/ gulosus/ gibbosus)
- Size 0.5 to 2lbs
- Food Value Good
- Game Qualities Low
- Habitats River, Lake, Backcountry
Sunfish are a diverse family of freshwater North American fish, mostly round in shape and of interesting colors. They are relatives of the Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, easy to catch and with an excellent taste.
Most Sunfish are quite small, most often caught up to 1 or 2lbs. The Redear and Bluegill are the only ones known to go over 3lbs and are the most popular among anglers.
The range of six major Sunfish species is described:
- Redear (Lepomis microlophus) - native to the Gulf coast and southeastern USA up to Indiana and North Carolina. Introduced to the Great Lakes and west.
- Green (Lepomis cyanellus) - native to central and eastern USA, Ontario and northern Mexico. Introduced throughout the USA except for the Northwest and peninsular Florida.
- Redbreast (Lepomis auritus) - native to the east coast of North America from New Brunswick to central Florida, extends west to the Appalachians and the Apalachicola River. Introduced to neighboring states.
- Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) - native to central and eastern USA and northeastern Mexico. Introduced throughout the USA.
- Warmouth (Lepomis gulosus) - native to the Great Lakes and the entire Mississippi River and its tributaries. Introduced to Mexico and Puerto Rico.
- Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) - native to the east coast of North America from New Brunswick to South Carolina, can be found in central and northwestern USA.
How to catch
Sunfish generally react well to lures and baits alike. Natural bait options include small minnows, shrimp, smoked salmon, worms, grubs, leeches, insects (crickets), bread, bacon, cheese, corn and basicaly anything meaty or fishy. Artificials used include various spinners, jigs and poppers, with flies gaining attention from enthusiasts as well.
Most species have small mouths and very small hooks should be used. A slip-sinker rig is common and bobbers will help suspend the bait at the right depth. These fish are scrappy at best and present an easy angling challenge, excellent for children interested in the sport.
Good to eat?
All species are phenomenal panfish.
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