Scientific Name: Lepomis macrochirus
Ideal Temp: 60-80°F (16-27°C)
Environment: Lake, River, Stream
Technique: Casting, Fly
Lure Type: Crankbaits, Flies, Spinnerbaits
World Record: 2.15 kg (4 lb 12 oz) Ketona Lake, Alabama , USA
The bluegill or bluegulli occurs naturally in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains from coastal Virginia to Florida, west to Texas and northern Mexico, and north from western Minnesota to western New York. Today they have been transported most everywhere else in North America, and have also been introduced into Europe, South Africa, Asia, South America, and Oceania. Bluegill have also been found in the Chesapeake Bay, indicating they can tolerate up to 1.8% salinity.
The bluegill is noted for the darkened spot that it has on the posterior edge of the gills and base of the dorsal fin. The sides of its head and chin are a dark shade of blue. It usually contains 5-9 vertical bars on the sides of its body, but these stripes are not always distinct. It has a yellowish breast and abdomen, with the breast of the breeding male being a bright orange.The bluegill has three anal spines, ten to 12 anal fin rays, six to 13 dorsal fin spines, 11 to 12 dorsal rays, and 12 to 13 pectoral rays. They are characterized by their deep, flattened, laterally compressed bodies. They have a terminal mouth, ctenoid scales, and a lateral line that is arched upward anteriorly. The bluegill typically ranges in size from four to 12 inches.
Bluegill live in the shallow waters of many lakes and ponds, along with slow-moving areas of streams and small rivers. They prefer water with many aquatic plants, and hide within fallen logs or water weeds. They can often be found around weed beds, where they search for food or spawn. Bluegill tend to be absent in northern Minnesota lakes, as the water gets too cold. In the summer, adults move to deeper water to avoid food competition. Bluegill try to spend most of their time in water from 60 to 80 °F (16 to 27 °C), and tend to have a home range of about 320 square feet (30 m2) during nonreproductive months. They enjoy heat, but do not like direct sunlight - they typically live in deeper water, but will linger near the water surface in the morning to stay warm. Bluegill are usually found in schools of 10 to 20 fish, and these schools will often include other sunfish, such as crappie, pumpkinseeds, and smallmouth bass.
Young bluegills' diet consists of rotifers and water fleas. The adult diet consists of aquatic insect larvae (mayflies, caddisflies, dragonflies), but can also include crayfish, leeches, snails, and other small fish. Their diet can also include the waxworm and nightcrawler that can be provided for them by anglers. If food is scarce, bluegill will also feed on aquatic vegetation, and if scarce enough, will even feed on their own eggs or offspring. As bluegill spend a great deal of time near the surface of water, they can also feed on popping bugs and dry flies. Most bluegills feed during daylight hours, with a feeding peak being observed in the morning and evening (with the major peak occurring in the evening). Feeding location tends to be a balance between food abundance and predator abundance. Bluegill use gill rakers and bands of small teeth to ingest their food. During summer months, bluegills generally consume 35 percent of their body weight each week. To capture prey, bluegills use a suction system in which they accelerate a water into their mouth. Prey comes in with this water. Only a limited amount of water is able to be suctioned, so the fish must get within 1.75 centimeters of the prey.
Bluegills are popular panfish, caught with live bait, flies, pieces of corn, small crankbaits, spinners, American cheese pushed around a hook, maggots, small frogs, or even a bare hook. They mostly bite on vibrant colors like orange, yellow, green, or red, chiefly at dawn and dusk. Some of the easiest baits to use for them are earthworms, live crickets and grasshoppers, white bread, cheese, or a corn kernel. Other efficient baits are redworms, waxworms, and other worms. They are noted for seeking out underwater vegetation for cover; their natural diet consists largely of small invertebrates and very small fish. The bluegill itself is also occasionally used as bait for larger game fish species, such as blue catfish, flathead catfish and largemouth bass.