Bluegill

Common Name: Bluegill.

Scientific Name: Lepomis Macrochirus.

What to look for?  Bluegill are a deep, slab-sided (tall and flat) fish with a small mouth. Their body is generally dark olive-green along the back and lighter on the sides. They have dark bars running vertically down their sides. Behind their eyes is a black ear flap. The belly of a female bluegill is yellow, while the belly of a breeding male is a rusty red color. The dorsal fin (fin on the top of the back) is continuous, with the first part being spiny and the back part being soft.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? Bluegill are in Carillon Stonegate Pond. You may see those fishing in our ponds catch a Bluegill (and quickly release back into the pond). Or catch a view from our gazebo.

How big are they? Bluegill average six (6) inches in length. They typically weigh twelve (12) ounces – are you hearing something else from your fisherman!

How else do they behave? Bluegills are incredibly good swimmers and have the ability to change directions very quickly.

What’s for dinner? Bluegill diets typically consist of aquatic insects and larvae, but can include crayfish, leeches, snails, and worms. Bluegill are classified as generalists and will feed on almost any food source that it can fit in their mouth. Young bluegill feed on microscopic animals.

Where do they take up residence? Bluegill range in North America extends from Canada to northern Mexico. Bluegill can be found across the state of Illinois and are in nearly every water body. Bluegill prefer clear lakes and ponds with weed beds and adequate aquatic vegetation or other structural features such as logs or rocks to avoid predation by other fish. They can also be found in swamps, creek pools, and small to large rivers. While they prefer warm waters, bluegill will move to deeper, cooler waters when temperatures rise.

When and where do they breed and nest? Bluegills will spawn multiple times from spring to mid-summer. Like bass and other sunfishes, male Bluegill build nests and provide parental care. They are a social fish and build their nests in colonies that often include hundreds of nests. The close proximity of nests built in the colony often has honeycomb appearance when viewed from the shore or boat. The male Bluegills first arrive at the mating site and the make a spawning bed in shallow water. Male Bluegills attract females by rapidly circling their nests and vigorously sweeping their nests. When females enter the nest, males will herd her around the nest in a circle, waiting for her to dip on her side to release eggs. The male releases sperm and the sticky eggs fall and adhere to the nest substrate. The male chases her out of the nest and guards the eggs. Females will spawn with a number of different males, so that each nest contains eggs from a variety of individuals.

What are their predators? Bluegill have many predators - both terrestrial and aquatic. Largemouth Bass are the most common predator. But other fish such as walleye, muskellunge, striped bass, and white bass will eat bluegill. Terrestrial predators include the Great Blue Heron, kingfishers, raccoons, and humans.

What is their conservation status? There is no concern. Largemouth Bass are listed as a species of "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List. No major threats are known to this species.

Where do they migrate? While Bluegill – like most freshwater fish – do not migrate nor hibernate, they will live within the weedy areas of the lake or pond.

Interesting Facts About Bluegill:

  • The Bluegill was designated the official state fish of Illinois in 1986 as selected by the school children of the state.

  • The lifespan of a bluegill is five (5) to eight (8) years old.

  • The world record bluegill was just under five (5) pounds, while the Illinois state record is just under four (4) pounds.

  • Bluegills are also called sunfish, bream, or copper nose.

  • A female bluegill can lay between 10,000 and 60,000 eggs over her lifetime.

  • Bluegills are very social and are often found in schools of more than ten (10) fish.

For more information on Bluegill and sources of information used in this blog (these are the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and the American Expedition.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.

 

Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!