About the Bluegill Fish – Lepomis macrochirus

Bluegill fishing photos

Distribution of Bluegill in the USBluegill range map native and stocked populations

As you can see on the map above (provided by USGS) the native range of the bluegill fish is mainly the central US and a small portion of Canada East of lake Huron. The bluegill range is from South Texas Eastward over to Florida, all the way to Northern New York and West to Northern Minnesota. They range as far west as the Pecos and Rio Grande rivers in New Mexico.

Stocking Efforts

Due to aggressive stocking efforts in many areas and private ponds, the bluegills current range is much larger than it’s original range (highlighted in brown on the map above). Many areas tend to stock what are commonly known as hybrid bluegill, a mixture of the green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) and bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) creating a much larger specimen.

Size and Coloration

Measuring between 6-12 inches, the bluegill is a small freshwater fish that usually weighs less than a pound. Also known as Sunfish, Bream and Copper Nose, this fish’s green, oval-shaped body is marked with dark bars stretching vertically down its sides. Females have a blue belly, while the underside of males tends to be rust colored. This fish possesses two dorsal fins, a small mouth and behind their eyes is a black earflap. These fish usually live between 5-8 years and become sexually mature after a year.

Habitat to Find Bluegill Fish

They are most often found in shallow water where they use vegetation and fallen tree limbs as protection. Bluegill typically feed on insects, zooplankton, worms, and other small fish. They are dexterous swimmer and adeptly maneuver in schools ranging between 10-20. The bluegill fish is often found in schools mixed in with a variety of other fish such as crappie, pumpkinseed sunfish, rock bass, perch and even smaller sized largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Bluegill Spawning

Spawning season spans between May and August. Males create a spawning bed in shallow water and when a female approaches the area, the male will begin to swim around. If the female chooses this mate, she will start to swim with the male. If this continues, together the fish settle in the middle of the nest, touch bellies and spawn. After the female drops the eggs – usually between 10,000 – 60,000 – the male chases her out of the nest and guards his future offspring. The male watches the eggs until they hatch they hatch five days later and the new fish swim off on their own.

Although their feeding habits depend on weather and seasonal factors, Bluegill bite year round and are some of the easiest fish to catch. Despite their small size, Bluegill fight hard when reeled in. It’s important to use the correct reel – a spin cast reel is typically best for those who are just getting started. This fish will bite for many things, but their most common bait is a worm. It is important to utilize a small hook because Bluegill have small mouths. In 1950 the world record Bluegill was caught, weighing in at 4 pounds, 12 ounces.

Fishing Regulations

Take caution when researching fiishing regulations in your state. It is important to know that each states has its own fishing regulations. There can be daily fishing limits and minimum size requirements for you to be able to keep a fish. Many states will typically allow you to keep as many as 50 bluegill and other panfish! However most states will limit your catch to 25 per person or less. Although youngsters and veterans can sometimes fish without a permit, typically permission by the state is required before you cast your rod. Another great benefit of bluegill fishing is that the season typically does not close. A lot of species of fish are only permitted to be fished for during a certain time of year, this is rarely ever the case with bluegill. In 99% of the areas where bluegill fish can be found, they can be fished for 365 days a year.