New Brunswick to North Carolina
Ponds and small lakes
The pumpkinseed is the most abundant and best known of the sunfish family. Because it usually lives close to shore and bites eagerly on angleworms, the pumpkinseed is often caught by young fishermen.
The average pumpkinseed is only 5 or 6 inches in length and weighs about a half pound, though some grow to 10 inches or more and about a pound in weight. Generally considered the most beautiful of North American freshwater fish, the pumpkinseed has a golden-brown body with iridiscent blue-green spots and a belly of yellow or creamy white.
The head is marked with horizontal stripes of light fluorescent colors and the gill cover is tipped with red.
Pumpkinseeds are carnivorous, feeding mostly on insects, mollusks, and small fish, though they occasionally also eat aquatic vegetation. Snails are a real treat for pumpkinseeds. In fact, they have a set of teeth that are especially well adapted for crushing snail shells.
Spawning season for Pumpkinseed is the late spring. The male builds a nest by digging a pit in gravel or sand and the female deposits the eggs. The male guards the pit until the eggs hatch. Both parents, but especially the male, guard the young pumpkinseeds until they’re large enough to swim free and take care of themselves.
Did You Know?
Pumpkinseeds are very tasty when pan fried – that’s why they are also called “panfish.”