Fish Profile: Pumpkinseed Sunfish

Pumpkinseed sunfish are small panfish that have flat bodies and orange bellies. They can be quite colourful with bright blue lines on their gill plates. They also have a dark spot behind their eyes just like bluegill sunfish. This spot is called the opercula flap. Sunfish rarely get bigger than 10 inches.

Pumpkinseeds spend most of their time in the shallow waters near the shore. They hang out around fallen trees and docks for food and shelter. If you are a fisherman targeting these panfish then the best place to catch them is anywhere along the water’s edge. Pumpkinseed can be found from New Brunswick to Manitoba. They tend to live in clear calm water in small lakes.

Pumpkinseed sunfish eat mostly invertebrates but they also eat vegetation. They eat 98.8% invertebrates and 1.2% vegetation according to the Biological Synopsis of Pumpkinseed by the department of Canadian fisheries and oceans. Invertebrates are animals that don’t have vertebrae such as leeches, beetle larvae, worms, mayflies and water bugs. They only eat small organisms since they have very small mouths and are small fish.

Pumpkinseed spawn in the spring every year. The male makes the nest in shallow water with his fins by shaking and sweeping away dirt from the bottom to make a flat surface. The female then lays about 4000 eggs sometimes it is more other times it’s less depending on the environment. The male guards them very aggressively to ward off any possible threats. After the male fertilizes the eggs, it only takes about four days for the eggs to hatch. The average amount of offspring that the eggs form is 8000.

For many anglers a sunfish was the first fish they ever caught since it will bite almost anything. They aren’t the most popular of fish among fishermen but they are good to catch when nothing else is biting. As you grow older and get used to them they become a bit of a nuisance especially if you are using worms since they can steal them with their small mouths. They aren’t exactly the most targeted species among fishermen since they don’t provide much meat and they are usually small. Some fishermen target them but only because their lake has so many of them and they can catch them in large quantities so they have enough to make a meal out of them. They supposedly do have a great taste though. They might be good quality but not exactly good quantity. To catch them you should use small hooks and lures that flash in the sunlight since sunfish are attracted to that.


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