List of Panfish Species: A Comprehensive Guide for Anglers

list of panfish species

Panfish are a popular and diverse group of freshwater fish that provide both recreational enjoyment and culinary delight for anglers around the world. These small fish, aptly named for their perfect size to fit in a frying pan, come in a variety of species. Some of the most common types of panfish are bluegill, crappie, and various sunfish species.

As an avid fisherman, my love for panfish stems not only from their abundance and ease of catching but also from their impressive fighting ability relative to their size. These fish are found in numerous water bodies, from ponds and lakes to rivers and streams, making them accessible to anglers of all skill levels. To help fellow anglers and fish enthusiasts, I’ll point out a list of panfish species below.

Bluegill, black crappie, white crappie, flier, green sunfish, longear sunfish, orange spotted sunfish, pumpkinseed, redbreast sunfish, redear sunfish, rock bass, and warmouth are all part of the panfish family. Each species has its unique characteristics and habits, providing an exciting variety for those who pursue these feisty fish.

Freshwater Panfish Species

Sunfish Family

In my experience, the Sunfish family includes various popular panfish species. Some of the common ones I’ve encountered include:

  • Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)
  • Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)
  • Redear Sunfish (Lepomis microlophus)
  • Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus)
  • Spotted Sunfish (Lepomis punctatus)
  • Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)

These fish are generally small in size, which makes them perfect for pan frying. They are usually found in warm, shallow waters with plenty of vegetation.


Another category of panfish I’ve come across is the crappies. There are two primary species:

  • Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)
  • White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis)

Crappies prefer habitats with submerged structures, such as logs, rocks, and plant life. These fish are known for their excellent taste and are a popular choice among anglers.

Yellow Perch

The Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens) is another popular panfish species worth mentioning. They are characterized by their yellowish, striped appearance and are often found in lakes and sluggish rivers. Yellow Perch are pursued by anglers primarily for their delicious flavor.

Black Bullhead Catfish

Last but not least, I’d like to mention the Black Bullhead Catfish (Ameiurus melas). Although not as popular as the other panfish I discussed, they are sometimes targeted by anglers for their meat. The Black Bullhead Catfish can be found in muddy, slow-moving waters with abundant cover.

To sum it up, the freshwater panfish species I’ve discussed include the Sunfish family, Crappies, Yellow Perch, and Black Bullhead Catfish. Each of these fish offers a unique angling experience and delicious taste.

Saltwater Panfish Species


As I’ve discovered, Pompanos are a popular saltwater panfish species. These fish are typically found in warmer coastal waters and are known for their delicious taste. Pompanos belong to the Carangidae family and grow up to 25 inches in length. The most common types of Pompano include the Florida Pompano and the African Pompano.

When fishing for Pompano, I find that using live shrimp or sand fleas as bait is effective. These fish are often caught close to the shore or around jetties and piers. The best time to target Pompano is during their migration periods, which occur in spring and fall.


I have also learned about Pinfish, another popular saltwater panfish species. Pinfish, or Lagodon rhomboides, are typically found in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. These fish prefer shallow grass flats and are often spotted around docks, bridges, and other structures. Pinfish can grow up to 17 inches in length but are generally smaller.

To catch Pinfish, I recommend using shrimp, squid, or small pieces of fish as bait. Pinfish are known for their strong bite and can be caught using size 6 to 8 hooks. A simple float or bottom rig setup with a light sinker should work well for this species.

In conclusion, saltwater panfish species like Pompanos and Pinfish are both enjoyable to catch and delicious to eat. By understanding their habitat, preferred bait, and best fishing methods, we can have a successful and enjoyable time out on the water targeting these species.

Regional Panfish Varieties

In my experience, panfish species can vary quite a bit from one region to another. In this section, I will outline a few regional panfish varieties that I have come across in my fishing ventures.

In the Midwest, I often encounter several types of sunfish, such as bluegill, green sunfish, pumpkinseed, and redear sunfish. These small, brightly colored fish can be found in a variety of habitats, including ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers. They typically prefer areas with plenty of aquatic vegetation or submerged structures, which provide them with cover from predators.

  • Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)
  • Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)
  • Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)
  • Redear Sunfish (Lepomis microlophus)

In the Northeast, yellow perch is another popular panfish species that I have enjoyed catching. They are most often found in freshwater environments and tend to inhabit cooler waters with ample aquatic vegetation. Yellow perch can be identified by their distinct yellow-gold coloration and dark vertical bands that run along their body.

  • Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens)

In the Southern regions, I have encountered a few unique panfish species, including crappie and rock bass. Crappie is divided into two subspecies: black crappie and white crappie. Both varieties are popular among anglers due to their flaky, tender, and mild-tasting flesh. Rock bass is another regional favorite, characterized by its large mouth and robust body.

  • Black Crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus)
  • White Crappie (Pomoxis annularis)
  • Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris)

These are just a few of the panfish species that I have come across in different regions. Depending on the area, there may be other varieties not mentioned here. The key is to familiarize yourself with the local fish species and use appropriate techniques and baits to target them effectively.

Panfish Identification Tips

As an avid angler, I’ve learned the importance of being able to identify different panfish species. Knowing which species you’re catching can make a significant impact on your fishing experience. In this section, I’ll share a few tips on how to identify common panfish species.

One key characteristic I look for when identifying panfish is their body shape. Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) has a large, deep body with a small mouth, while black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) and white crappie (Pomoxis annularis) have a more elongated, compressed body shape.

Another useful feature to pay attention to is the color and pattern of the fish. For example, pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) has a colorful, mottled appearance with blue and orange spots. In contrast, green sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus) may have a green or bluish tint on its body.

Here are a few other common panfish species and their identifying features:

  • Redear sunfish (Lepomis microlophus): Thin, black, wavy lines on its body and a red or orange spot on the gill cover.
  • Redbreast sunfish (Lepomis auritus): Olive-green body with a bright red or orange belly and a blue streak on the gill cover.
  • Spotted sunfish (Lepomis punctatus): Dark, spotted appearance with a bluish-black coloring on the operculum (gill cover).

When I go fishing, I prefer to capture photographs of my catches for easy identification, especially if I’m planning on releasing the larger breeders. Having a visual record can be valuable for learning and identifying different panfish species in the future.

In my experience, knowing which panfish species you are catching can greatly enhance your overall fishing experience and success on the water. By taking the time to learn and recognize the key characteristics of these fish, you’ll be better equipped to enjoy your time on the water and focus on catching the species you’re targeting.

Panfish Habitat and Distribution

As an avid angler, I know that panfish are found in a wide variety of freshwater environments. They typically prefer shallow waters with an abundance of vegetation like lily pads, cattails, and reeds. This vegetation not only provides the fish with cover but also acts as a vital source of food. I’ve commonly found panfish around covers such as weeds, logs, rocks, and sunken brush piles.

Some of the most popular panfish species I’ve encountered include:

  • Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus)
  • Crappie (Pomoxis spp.)
  • Perch (Perca spp.)
  • Pumpkinseed sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus)
  • Flier (Centrarchus macropterus)

My experience has shown me that panfish are widely distributed throughout various regions. Bluegill, for instance, can be found in many warm-water lakes across the United States. In fact, the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife mentions that bluegill is one of several “panfish” species in Washington state. Similarly, pumpkinseed sunfish are commonly found in warm water lakes and are often simply called “sunfish”.

During different seasons, I’ve noticed changes in panfish behavior and location. In the warmer summer months, panfish are easier to catch as they move to shallow waters. As fall approaches and water temperatures cool, they tend to move offshore and into deeper waters, making them more challenging to target.

Learning about the distribution and habitat of panfish has certainly improved my fishing experiences and can help other anglers understand where to find these popular freshwater species.

Captain Tyler Brady

Captain Tyler Brady

Hi, I'm Captain Tyler Brady, founder of A Fellow Fisherman. Thank you for reading this post and visiting my site. I strive to provide the best information when it comes to fishing, whether it is myself or A Fellow Fisherman that is part of my team. Now stop reading and GO fishing!

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