Bluegill -- Lepomis macrochirus

9" Bluegill

History:  Bluegill occur naturally from Minnesota east to Lake Champlain and south to Florida and Texas. They have been widely introduced into Oregon. 

Physiology:   Bluegills, like bass, are members of the Centrarchidae Family.  Bluegills are olive green in color with a gold or orangeish belly.  They have a  dark blotch which appears on the posterial portion of the dorsal fin.  They lack crimson coloration along the edge of the opercular flap; instead they have a uniform blue-black marking, hence the name "blue gill".

Bluegill feed on minute plant and animal organisms, insects, insect larvae, and small fish.  Bluegill do not readily accept artificial food; production is limited to their natural  environment. Bluegill typically reach 5-6 oz in weight and 6" in length.  Bluegill can grow up to 10-12".  The average life expantancy of bluegill is around five to six years, but some have been found that were up to 11 years in age.

Habitat:  Bluegills prefer heavily vegetated areas affording plenty of cover in ponds that are fertile, non-turbid, and have a stable water level.

Spawning:  Bluegill spawn later than bass, waiting until the water temperature reaches 75 F.  Spawning occurs throughout the summer.  The male prepares the nest or redd in sandy or silty areas.  Eggs are deposited by the female; the male guards the eggs and resulting fry.

Redds appear as light, circular areas on the pond bottom in shallow areas.  Many nests may be established in a small area.  Oftentimes a cloud of silt is dispersed above the redds as the spawning fish flee from perceived threats.

Growth:  Bluegills are rapid growers when provided warm-water, adequate food supply and cover.  They will spawn as yearlings and can easily overpopulate a pond.  When overpopulation occurs, bluegill will eat bass eggs and fry and bluegill fry.  An overpopulated pond is characterized by uniformly sized bluegill (stunted).  If overpopulation becomes a problem, intervention can include destruction of redds, more intensive fishing and trapping fish.

If you look closely, you will see bluegill hovering above their redds.  In this situation, the spawning bluegill were about 3-4" inches.

Redds for bluegill as far as one can see.  These nests are hollowed in mud at about 8-10" in depth.  The bluegill makes redds as a community, so look for several nests in one area. 


Special Considerations:  In the absence of predators, bluegill will reproduce to the point of severe stunting.  When fishing, it is recommended that you do not release any bluegill regardless of size.  Bluegill must be fished out of the pond at the same rate they were stocked  (generally 3-5 bluegill for every bass caught).