Minnesota east to Maine and south to Arkansas and Georgia.
Shallow warmer waters of lakes, ponds and streams
A member of the sunfish family, the bluegill is very popular with anglers because of its tasty flesh and the fact that it puts up a pretty good fight for its size.
The average bluegill is about 8 inches long and weighs a pound or so, but some older fish grow to as much as a foot in length and more than 2 pounds in weight. The largest bluegill ever caught, in Alabama, weighed a whopping 4 pounds, 12 ounces.
The color varies considerably, from light to dark olive above and yellow or reddish below. The cheeks and gill covers are usually bluish. Younger bluegills and females often have dark, vertical bars on their backs.
Bluegills usually feed in the cooler hours of early morning or the evening, traveling in small, loosely-organized schools.
The young feed in heavy, rooted weeds near the shore to avoid predators, while larger bluegills frequent deeper, more open water. Because the fish have small mouths, insects are the staple food item, but snails, crayfish, and fish eggs may also be part of the diet.
The bluegill spawns from late May through most of the summer. The male uses its fins to fan a nest, a foot or two in diameter and as deep as four feet, over sand or gravel in shallow water. He then entices a female into the nest, using bites and nudges to get her there. The female lays up to 50,000 eggs. After fertilizing, the male protects the nest, keeping it free from silt, and he also protects the young bluegills until they’re large enough to go off on their own. Bluegills like to build their nests around other bluegill nests. Sometimes there are so many nests that the nest beds touch and look like honeycombs.
Did You Know?
Bluegills are a member of the sunfish family and many people call bluegills “sunnies.