Species Spotlight: Green Sunfish

With the partnering of FWC and Fishbrain to track the distribution of fifteen non-native species within Florida waters, as a member of this list we have chosen to spotlight the Green Sunfish this month.

The Green Sunfish is a member of the sunfish family and is native to the central plains of the United States from the western Appalachians to the east side of the Rockies. They are found in the Great Lakes area and have recently entered some waters in the Florida panhandle and the counties through the Big Bend.

The Green Sunfish, like Warmouths, have a large mouth and a heavy, black bass body shape. The body is dark green, almost blue, dorsally, fading to lighter green on the sides with yellow or white on the belly. Faint vertical bars can be sometimes present on their sides. Some scales may have a turquoise spot.

Green Sunfish are very versatile and can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions and are very competitive ecologically with other fish in the sunfish family. Green sunfish are prolific breeders and can quickly over populate a small pond or waterway, and as such they are on FWC’s Prohibited Species List.

In Florida the Green Sunfish prefers slow moving backwaters, lakes, ponds and areas with moderate to poor water conditions. They hold to structures such as submerged rocks, tree limbs and vegetation that provides cover. These sunfish can grow to 12-inches in length and weigh 2.5 lbs though over population generally restricts their size.

Similar to other sunfish they’ll feed on insects, crayfish, snails, small baitfish, earth worms and similar baits. Being aggressive feeders you can also catch they on light tackle with inline spinners, beetle spins, jig heads, etc.

As for table fare, if you catch one of reasonable size, they’ll have white sweet meat similar to most members of the sunfish family. Being a non-native species there are no limits on harvesting these fish.