Green Sunfish

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  • Green Sunfish: (Lepomis cyanellus)

    Native to the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay and the Mississippi River basin. Introduced into Arizona in 1926. Large mouth with blue-green striations on the cheeks. Opercle flap is black with reddish or orange border. Bodies olive-green in color, dark vertical bars are faintly seen on sides. Pectoral fin short and rounded. Caudal fin and lower fin margins are white or yellowish with dusky spots at rear of dorsal and anal fins. Length: 3 to 12 inches. Weight: 3 ounces to 1 pound 8 ounces. May live to nine years.

    Location and Habitat
    Found in most warm water lakes and streams in Arizona and even in a few trout lakes in the White Mountains and Mogollon Rim. Prefer lakes with rocky substrate and piles of rubble, but can be found around brushy banks and cliffs.


    Males build nests in shallow pools over gravel, sand or bedrock. The nests are usually within a couple feet of each other. The male guards the nest and hatched fry. Males constantly show defensive displays and fight with other males who come too close.

    Green sunfish will eat anything they can catch and swallow. Aquatic and terrestrial insects and invertebrates are the most common food items. Small crayfish, fish and frogs are all in danger when green sunfish are present.

    Because of their highly predaceous and pugnacious nature they are one of the easiest fish to catch. They are always hungry and readily bite on small worms and insects. They readily take small jigs, spinners and spoons, as well as nymphs and small streamers. Green sunfish are great for teaching kids how to fish.

    Table Quality
    The meat is similar to bluegill, white, flaky and excellent tasting.

    Information from The Arizona Game and Fish Department.

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