Pumpkinseed Sunfish

The bluegill vs the pumpkinseed sunfishWhen people think of panfish they usually think about bluegill and crappie, but there are other great species in this category. The pumpkinseed is a great fish in the sunfish family that does not get the type of exposure that the bluegill and crappie get, yet it is just as common here in the US. They fight just as hard as the bluegill and are among the most beautiful fish species  in fresh water.

The Pumpkinseed sunfish is actually a very aggressive species and are not sought after by most fisherman. They tend to spend most of their lives in close proximity to the shoreline and will eat most baits that you could offer them. They don’t grow very large, usually around 6-10 average for an adult fish. They are a great fish for teaching kids because they are such voracious eaters.

How to Identify a Pumpkinseed

The pumpkinseed is similar in size and shape to the bluegill. They tend to favor the same types of habitats and will frequently be found mingling among the bluegill in schools. Yet there are distinct differences in the appearance of the pumpkinseed. The most notable difference is the bright red crescent shape often present on the opercular flap (the tag in the middle of the gills). The bluegills have a pure black opercular flap and are not nearly as colorful as the pumpkinseed.

Spawning Habits of the pumpkinseed sunfish

Spawning pumpkinseed Sunfish

Shown here is a large pumpkinseed sunfish guarding its bed full of eggs. It allowed me to get quite close to it with the camera, showing how it’s desire to guard eggs was put before its personal safety.

The Pumpkinseed will tend to spawn in slightly more shallow water than that of the bluegill. They generally choose a bed of fine gravel or sand, in around 6 inches to 1.5 feet of water. They will start spawning when the water reaches around 68 degrees. This can often be earlier in the year than you might think because of the pumpkinsed’s desire to spawn in such shallow water. Often times shallow areas isolated away from the main lake body can be several degrees warmer than the main lake or pond. Spawning season of the Pumpkinseed sunfish

Fishing for the Pumpkinseed sunfish

Since the pumpkinseed is not a terribly selective eater they will eat most baits and lures that the bluegill will eat. Their favorite seems to be the night crawler and red worms. They will also respond well to waxworms, mealworms and wigglers.



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