Wild bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) from a pond in Gainesville, Florida. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Public License.
Minnesota has several sunfish species, but one of the most popular with anglers are the bluegill. The bluegill is found in most of the state's lakes and streams, and spawns from late May well into the summer. The Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) is a species of freshwater fish. It is a member of the sunfish family (family Centrarchidae) of order Perciformes. It is native to a wide area of North America, from Québec to northern Mexico, and has been widely transplanted to stock game fish for anglers.
Bluegill usually hide around and inside old tree stumps in swamps and other underwater structures (e.g. snags), and can live in either deep or very shallow water. Bluegills also like to find shelter among aquatic plants and in the shade of trees along banks, and will often move from one cover to another depending on the time of day or season.
Bluegills are caught with live bait, flies or other lures, chiefly at dawn and dusk. One of the easiest baits to use for them are waxworms on ice jigs. They are noted for seeking out underwater vegetation for cover; their natural diet consists largely of small invertebrates and very small fish. The bluegill is a schooling fish with schools of 20-30 individuals. These fish spawn in June in nests in the shallows. During this period males assume a very bold coloration, as they are guarding their nests. An interesting piece of their biology is that some males assume the coloration of the female fish so that the nest guarding males won't show aggression towards them. Then these "sneaker" males enter nests and spawn. Because of their size and the method of cooking them, bluegills are often called panfish. Bluegill are also commonly referred to as bream.
Of typical sunfish body shape, the bluegill's most notable feature is the blue or black "ear", actually an extension of the gill cover called the opercular flap. Its name, however, comes from the bright blue edging visible on its gill rakers. It can be distinguished from similar species by the (not always pronounced) vertical bars along its flanks. The bluegill grows to a maximum overall length of approximately 40 cm (16 in).
Portions of this text is licensed under the Text of Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bluegill".