Sunday, May 04, 2014

Georgia Panfish Research Series: 1-Identification

Afternoon Folks,
  I hope you’re all doing well today.  I don’t know about where you are, but here in Georgia we’re having an absolutely gorgeous Sunday, high in the low 80’s and not a cloud in sight!  I think I may have to hit the lake this evening! 
  In my last post I mentioned that I’d been doing a bit of research on the panfish species that inhabit the lakes and streams around me, so this post is my first installment on that topic.  I firmly believe in giving credit where credit is due.  The information below is not my own original work.  Rather, I copied the info form the Georgia Department of Natural Resources website.  I hope by being up front with that that I’m not breaking any rules.  One thing I did do, however, was put all of the information together.  On the GA DNR website you have to click an individual link to each fish species.  For our purposes, I thought having it on one single page would make things a little easier.  It’s one thing to see a picture of what you’re trying to identify, it’s a whole lot easier when you can compare pictures together.  You’ll also see that each post has its original image credit intact as well. 
  Each fish description from DNR is excellent, and the artwork in incredible (…to be so talented!), but I particularly like that the state record weights are included with each description.  I knew that crappie could get pretty good size, but I can’t imagine pulling in a 3 pound Bluegill!!! A new goal to aim for indeed!
  Look over the info here, and let me know what you guys think.  I’m going to keep researching and see what else I can find of interest.  Post any questions down in the comments and I’ll do my best to research an answer.  Now get outside and catch some fish!
  Tight Lines!


The bluegill is round and flat, with a distinct dark spot or smudge at the base of the dorsal fin. The ear flap is entirely black, which distinguishes it from a lot of other sunfish. Its back and upper sides are dark olive-green to black, and its belly is reddish yellow. The bluegill also has a pattern of vertical bars on the sides. During spawning season, males can be especially dark or colorful.
Scientific Name:  Lepomis macrochirus
State Record: 3 lbs. 5 oz.
Image D.Raver (USFWS)

Black crappie

With a compressed body, small head and arched back, the black crappie is silvery-green to yellowish, with large dorsal and anal fins of almost identical shape and size. It has a large mouth with an upper jaw extending under the eye. It has many dark spots on its sides and fins, which become more mottled toward the back. To differentiate between a black crappie and a white crappie, count the dorsal spines. The black crappie has seven to eight dorsal spines, while the white crappie has only five to six.
Scientific Name:  Pomoxis nigromaculatus
State Record: 4 lbs. 4 oz.
Image D.Raver (USFWS)

Redear sunfish (Shellcracker)

The redear sunfish is a deep, slab-sided fish with pointed pectoral fins. Its most distinguishing feature is a red or orange edge along the ear flap. With light green-to-gold sides speckled with red or orange flecks, the redear has a yellowish-orange belly. The redear sunfish also grows faster and larger than other sunfish, often reaching 2 pounds with 1-plus pound fish common.
Scientific Name:  Lepomis microlophus
State Record: 4 lbs. 2 oz.
Image D.Raver (USFWS)

Redbreast sunfish

One of the brightest-colored sunfish, the redbreast has green-to yellow-brown sides with reddish spots and a reddish-orange belly. It has bluish streaks on its cheeks and around the eyes. The most distinguishing characteristic of this species is a long, narrow (no wider than the eye) extension of the gill cover. These flaps may exceed a length of 1 inch and are entirely black.
Scientific Name:  Lepomis auritus
State Record: 1 lb 11 oz.
Image D.Raver (USFWS)


The warmouth has a thick, oblong body, which varies from brassy to dark olive-green. It has broad, irregular dark bars that give it a mottled appearance. It is easily identified by red eyes and a large mouth, which is similar to a bass. Its upper jaw extends to or beyond the middle of the eyes. Three or four conspicuous dark stripes radiate back from the eyes across to the cheek and gill cover. The soft-rayed portions of the dorsal and anal fins are marked with rows of dark spots.
Scientific Name:  Lepomis gulosus
State Record: 2 lbs.
Image D.Raver (USFWS)


Fliers are small, deep-bodied, compressed sunfishes with large dorsal and anal fins that are nearly equal in size. The upper jaw extends backward to the front of the eye, and the tongue has two tooth patches. Olive green to pale yellow sides are marked with several rows of brown spots. Small fliers have a prominent black spot surrounded by an orange circle in the soft dorsal fin.
Scientific Name:  Centrarchus macropterus
State Record:  None Noted
Image D.Raver (USFWS)

Information and images reposted from Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division at:

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