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Similarities And Differences Among New York's Sunfish

Similiarities and differences among New York's sunfish species
Species Description Habitat Reproduction Feeding Fishing Information Comments
Bluegill 4-1 0" long

Flat, deep body shape

Green to brown with sides of orange or pink with vertical bars. Metallic blue/green shades on sides of head

Large, square-shaped, blue/black gill flap and dark blotch at back of soft-rayed portion of dorsal fin

3 spines on anal fin

Slow moving or standing water with plenty of vegetation or other shelter Spawns May to July

Male builds nest close to shore in firm sand or mud in 2 ½' of water

Nests are very close together in colonies

Male guards eggs and young

Some males have been known to raise 2-3 broods in one season
Eats mostly insects and crustaceans, but also consumes plant material Will easily bite any bait or small lure dropped in the water

Fish in shallow water near weeds and use live bait, bugs and small spinners and poppers
Similar in appearance to pumpkinseeds

Frequently stocked in farm ponds and other impoundments
Pumpkinseed 4-8" long

Flat, deep body shape

Golden brown to olive with red/ orange belly and wavy blue/ green lines. Emerald or blue streaks on sides of head.

Rear of gill flap has pale margin around bright red spot. No dark blotch at back of soft-rayed portion of dorsal fin; 3 spines on anal fin

Long, pointed pectoral fins
Wide range of habitats: small lakes and ponds; shallow weedy bays of larger lakes; and quiet waters of slow-moving streams Spawns May to August

Male builds nest close to shore in areas of submerged vegetation in 6-12" of water

Nests are close together in colonies

Male guards eggs and young
Eats mostly insects, crustaceans and small fish Will strike just about any bait and small lure

Fish in shallow water in sheltered areas with live bait and small spinners
Most abundant and widespread sunfish in New York State

A favorite of small children

Similar in appearance to bluegills
Redbreast 4-8" long

Flat, deep body shape

Golden brown to olive with yellow/ orange-red belly and reddish spots and blue streaks on sides

Long, narrow, black gill flap

3 spines on anal fin

Small, rounded pectoral fins
Prefers clear, slower moving streams with sandy and rocky bottoms

Also occurs in lakes and ponds
Spawns early June to mid-August Male builds nest close to shore in 6-18" of water

Nests are close together in colonies

Male guards eggs and young
Eats mostly insects and crustaceans plus some small fish Not widely available to New York anglers

Use live bait in shallow water near weeds
Confined to eastern portion of New York State

Similar in appearance to pumpkinseed
Smallmouth Bass 8-15" long

Elongate, robust body shape Greenish bronze to brown with 81 1 vertical dark bars on sides

Upper jaw does not reach beyond rear edge of eye

3 spines on anal fin
Cool, clear waters of lakes and flowing streams with gravel or rocky bottom and moderate vegetation Spawns late May to early June

Male builds nest in sandy, gravel or rocky areas near cover of rocks, logs or dense vegetation

Nests are many feet apart

Male guards eggs and young
Eats primarily fish, crayfish and insects

Peak feeding time-early morning and evening
Popular sportfish famous for its fighting ability

Still fish near rocks, shoals or other structure with crayfish, minnows or frogs or cast live bait, spinners and plugs
One of New York's most important gamefish

Similar in appearance to largemouths
Largemouth Bass 8-17" long

Elongate, robust body shape Dark green with a pronounced dark horizontal stripe on sides

Upper law extends well beyond rear edge of eye

3 spines on anal fin
Warm, shallow, well-vegetated areas of lakes, ponds and sluggish streams Spawns late May to early June

Male builds nest adjacent to protective cover in a variety of bottom types

Nests are far apart (up to 30 ft.)

Male guards eggs and young
Eats primarily fish, but also eats crayfish, frogs and other animals such as mice

Hides in dense vegetation and ambushes prey
Popular sportfish

Still fish or cast in weedy, stumpy areas using live bait or a wide variety of lures including plastic worms and surface plugs

A challenge to land because they are often found in dense vegetation
Another of New York's most important gamefish

The largest member of the sunfish family
Rock Bass 6-10" long

Flat, deep body shape

Brownish with several dark bars or blotches on sides. Have bright red eyes

5 spines on anal fin
Lakes and ponds in rocky and gravelly, shallow water areas and the lower, warm reaches of streams

Very abundant in most large rivers
Spawns mid-May to mid-June

Male builds nest in variety of bottom types: gravel, mud and in vegetation

Nests are well separated

Male guards eggs and young
Eats mostly aquatic insects, crayfish and small fish Popular panfish

Fish along rocky areas and weeds and use live bait, small spinners, plugs and poppers
Often occur in same areas as smallmouth bass
Black Crappie 8-12" long

Flat, diamond shape body

Dark green to golden brown with mottled patches of dark scales

5 spines on anal fin
Clear, quiet waters of lakes, ponds and larger rivers with abundant vegetation Spawns May to June

Male builds nest in 10-24" of water in gravel areas with some vegetation

Nests are kept 5-6' apart

Males guards eggs and young
Eats small fish and insects Popular panfish

Fish along rocky areas and in shallow coves with minnows, worms and spinners

Best fishing is just before sunset
Uncommon in the Adirondacks