Friday, September 2, 2016

Sunfish of the United States

Wow!  I thought I had a pretty good handle on the various sunfish species in the U.S.  And yesterday I discovered a handful MORE that I definitely wasn't familiar with.  Some look similar to other panfish, but aren't just a "local name"....they are actually recognized as separate species.
Rather than just post the ones that were "new to me", I thought I would try to compile a comprehensive list of panfish in the U.S., along with a picture (if I can find one).  Bass are in the Sunfish family, but I'm not going to include those here.

In Iowa, we have a good opportunity to encounter 9 of these species.  There are a total of 26 of these non-bass sunfish!

I'll start with the ones most of us already know, and work into the less well known ones.


Redear Sunfish:

Green Sunfish:

Black Crappie:

White Crappie:

Pumpkinseed Sunfish:

Rock Bass:

Warmouth (not my photo):

Orangespotted Sunfish (not my photo):

Longear Sunfish (not my photo):

Northern Sunfish (not my photo):

Redbreast Sunfish (not my photo):

Redspotted Sunfish (not my photo):

Flier (not my photo):

Spotted Sunfish (not my photo):

Pygmy Sunfish (not my photo):

Bluespotted Sunfish (not my photo):

Dollar Sunfish (not my photo):

Mud Sunfish (not my photo):

Banded Sunfish (not my photo):

Blackbanded Sunfish (not my photo):

Bantam Sunfish (not my photo):

Sacramento Perch (not my photo):

Roanoke Bass (not my photo):

Ozark Bass (not my photo):

Shadow Bass (not my photo):

Hybrid Sunfish occur frequently in nature.  There are many different potential hybrids!
Here’s some pictures of Hybrids I’ve caught:
(Presumed) Bluegill x Pumpkinseeds:

Not sure what these might be….

The vertical barring and operculum on this one are especially perplexing:

I believe these are all Bluegill x Green Sunfish hybrids:

Based on the cheek markings on the one below…this one could be a non-spawning Redear, or maybe a backcrossed Redear x Bluegill.  I dunno….

Bluegill x Redear:

This one is more subtle and looks mostly Bluegill….but with Hybrid characteristics of muddied cheek markings and an orange edge to the operculum.  Probably a backcrossed hybrid of some sort.


  1. Good Morning, Dave!

    Thanks for sharing and do the research. What a beautiful and fun selection of fish to have on the end of the fly line. A number of these pictures are new Sunfish too me.