The sunfish we catch include the bluegill, pumpkinseed, and redbreast sunfish. Often very colorful, these fish are popular with young anglers, who find them in freshwater portions of the Hudson. A ten-inch “sunny” is a very large one; those we catch are smaller. Starting in early summer, male sunfishes dig out saucer-like nests on the river bottom. After one or more females lay eggs in a nest, the male guards it and the newborn young once they have hatched.
The bluegill’s body color varies from yellow to dark blue, with six to eight vertical bars along each side and a yellowish breast. Adults have a broad black gill flap, and a dark spot on their dorsal fin.
Pumpkinseeds have a gill flap with a bright orange or red tip. Lines of turquoise color cover the opercle (gill cover). The back is olive or brown, shading to orange or yellow on the belly. It is the most common sunfish in our catches.
The redbreast sunfish is green to yellow on its body, with a reddish orange belly. It has a long, black opercular flap.