Video: Can You Identify These 3 Sunfish?

Anglers in the Midwest and North often encounter these three sunfish species. Can you identify them correctly?

Video: Can You Identify These 3 Sunfish?

Winter is prime time for many ice anglers in the Midwest and North to target sunfish. And while it’s easy to distinguish between sunfish and crappies, some anglers are confused by the various species of sunfish.

In the video below, Scott Mackenthun of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources explains the differences between bluegills, pumpkinseeds, green sunfish and hybrids (crosses between the others). Most panfish anglers have no trouble telling the difference between bluegills and pumpkinseeds, but they get confused by green sunfish because there is a lot of hybridization between the three species, and green sunfish look similar to hybrids. The one telltale in identifying a green sunfish is the mouth is larger and body more elongated than that of bluegills or pumpkinseeds.

All three of the species discussed here will hybridize with all of the others, and the result can be a particular fish that looks a bit like all of the species. For example, at the end of the video Mackenthun shows a beautifully marked sunfish that he believes is a cross between a bluegill and a pumpkinseed. The final fish he showcases isn’t a green sunfish; it’s a hybrid.

Click here to visit the Minnesota DNR’s website for detailed illustrations that show the differences between various sunfish species.


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