Types of panfish

The term “panfish” generally refers to a wide variety of edible freshwater species that are small enough to cook in a frying pan, although that is not the only way to cook them. This training module will focus on the larger panfish-sized sunfishes and crappie. These fish are widely distributed across America. However, the specific species may change regionally, or from one body of water to another. Common names for these species also vary widely, with some regional names endemic to that location.

The module will focus on open-water fishing for the following species:

  • Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)
    • Species overview
  • Green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)
    • Species overview
  • Redear sunfish (Lepomis microlophus)
    • Species overview
  • Redbreast sunfish (Lepomis auritus)
    • Species overview
  • Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)
    • Species overview
  • White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis)
    • Species overview
  • Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)
    • Species overview

These species are generally abundant, relatively easy to catch, do not require elaborate or expensive fishing gear, and are good to eat. Most of the sunfishes (Lepomis spp.) can be caught with similar tactics and equipment. Both species of crappies (Pomoxis spp.) can be caught with equipment used for sunfishes, but may require different tactics. However, catching larger specimens of any of these species, or during certain times of the year, may require advanced skills and tactics. 

There are 13 recognized species of sunfishes. However, they frequently hybridize, and/or are known by numerous local or regional common names. Some common names are generic and cover many species, while others may refer to a specific species or even a locally occurring hybrid.

Most are found in warm, slow moving, relatively shallow, fresh water lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, and most are often strongly associated with aquatic weeds, or other structures such as downed trees, stumps or rocks.

There are only two species of crappies in the US. Both are similar in size and known by numerous local or regional common names. Both occupy slow moving, relatively shallow, fresh water lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, and most are often strongly associated with aquatic weeds, or other structures such as downed trees, stumps or rocks. However, white crappies are more tolerant of muddy water and can do well in areas that have sparse aquatic vegetation.

Other panfish species

Depending on the region where you will be hosting your panfishing class, you may want to consider yellow perch (Perca flavescens) or channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) as your target species.  

 

 

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