Iowa DNR
River & Stream Biological Monitoring
Fish and Benthic Macroinvertebrate Surveys
Physical Habitat Assessments

Bluegill Lepomis macrochirus

Centrarchidae (Sunfishes)
Trophic Class
Is Exotic to Iowa?
Is Lithophilous Spawner?
Is Hybrid?
State Listing Status
Not Listed
Assessment Program Statistics

This species was found at 411 bioassessment sites, 30 rapid fish bioassessment sites, 101 fisheries assessment sites, and 8 fisheries presence-only assessment sites. In total, it was collected at 531 distinct sites, or 36% of the 1473 total sites monitored by the bioassessment program. It is the 12th most commonly collected species.

The Bluegill was collected in 755 bioassessment sampling sessions and 288 fisheries assessment sessions. It was present in 30 rapid bioassessment sessions and 8 presence-only sessions.

The biological assessment program has collected a total of 14,740 individual Bluegill specimens, ranking it the #23 most collected fish.

Species Characteristics

A deep, slab-sided sunfish with a small mouth. Its upper jaw does not reach the front of the eye when its mouth is closed. The spiny dorsal fin has 10 spines and is joined broadly to the soft dorsal fin, but there is no notch. The pectoral fins are long and pointed and extend past the eye when they are bent in a forward position. There is usually a black spot or blotch near the base of the soft dorsal fin and a black, flexible tip on the gill cover. Its back and sides are dark olive-green with emerald and brownish reflections. The breast and belly are yellow or reddish-orange. Males in breeding colors often have a deep red, almost dark brown breast. The sides usually display vertical bars, but these are more prominent in smaller fish. The chin and gill covers are bright blue, giving the bluegill its name.

Species Distribution Maps

HUC12 watersheds where this species has been found