Anglers use the word PANFISH to categorize smaller-sized freshwater fish—sunfish (bluegills, pumpkinseeds), crappies, yellow perch, rock bass, and more.
Scientifically, a variety of fish species from several different families are included in the category called Panfish.
For instance, largemouth and smallmouth bass are scientifically members of the sunfish family; however, they are not considered Panfish. Walleyes are members of the perch family but are not considered Panfish like their cousin, the yellow perch.
All members of the family are warmwater fish. They inhabit ponds, sloughs, slow-moving streams, shallow lakes, shallow bays of deeper lakes, and practically any other kind of warm-water habitat.
Panfish are arguably one of the most popular categories of fish worldwide. They are fun and easy to catch throughout the year. Most importantly for many, they are excellent to eat and very nutritious. Panfish often reside near shore, which makes them accessible to most anglers — young, old, new, and even expert anglers love panfish.
The technical name of the sunfish family is Centrar-chidae, meaning “nest builders.” The males of each species construct a nest, guard the eggs against predators, and guard the fry until they leave the nest.
The sunfish family includes three major groups: true sunfish, crappies, and black bass. Fliers, rock bass and Sacramento perch also belong to the sun-
SUNFISH. This group of Panfish includes members of the genus Lepomis. Their bright, colorful appearance accounts for the name “sunfish.”
True sunfish are extremely popular among anglers around the world. They are easy to catch, good to eat, and put up a good fight for their size, especially older fish between 9 and 12 inches in length.
Hybridization (different species spawning together) is widespread among these fish. Hybrids are so predominant in some waters that you seldom see a purebred.
CRAPPIES (genus Pomoxis): Easily one of the most popular of all fish, crappies will tolerate lower oxygen levels and often become the most abundant species in winterkill lakes.
Unlike most other members of the sunfish family, crappies are roamers. Except in the spring, when they migrate shallow to spawn, crappies can be challenging to locate because of their habit of suspending far above the bottom.