Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)

Download PDF Fact Sheet

The bluegill’s body is round, “frying pan” shaped, with faint vertical stripes. While very similar to the pumpkinseed sunfish the defining differences can be found on the gill cover. The outer edge of the bluegill’s gill cover has a large black spot without the red spot that is prominent on the pumpkinseeds’ gill cover.

Common Names: bluegill, bream, sunfish

Habitat of the Bluegill

Bluegill are found throughout most of southern and eastern Ontario, including the Rideau Lakes, the Kawarthas as well as the lower Great Lakes and some waters within Quetico Provincial Park. They prefer moderately clear water, with moderate weed growth and warm water temperatures.

Spawning Patterns of the Bluegill

Spawning activity peaks in early July, but may extend into August. Males build nests in shallow water, clearing silt down to the hard bottom. Males guard the eggs and fry until they disperse (1 to 2 weeks). A single 7-inch (17.5 cm) female bluegill can lay up to 38,000 eggs.

The Diet of the Bluegill

Consists mainly of larval insects and plankton, however, they can feed aggressively on fry of other fish, particularly in the spring.

Age and Growth Ranges of the Bluegill

Bluegills can live in excess of 11 years. Typically, growth is rapid initially and slows downconsiderably after the fish reach about 7 inches (17.5 cm). A 7 inch bluegill may be about 6 years old, whereas a 9 inch (22.5 cm) bluegill may be 10 years of age or older. Their growth rate varies considerably depending on the environment they live in and the size of the population.

Tips on Fishing for Bluegill

Bluegills are very aggressive and are generally found in schools. These qualities make them great for angling. Bluegill will readily strike small live baits such as small worms and grubs. Also, try using a bobber and small wet or dry flies. They are hard fighters for there size, making them an excellent fish for children to catch. They have white flaky flesh that is delicious.