The Original Kentucky Lake & Lake Barkley Site Since 1996


Lake Barkley & Kentucky Lake Fish Species - Bluegill

(Lepomis macrochirus)

KY State Record- 4 lbs. 3oz.
TN State Record- 3 lbs.
The bluegill is one of the most popular fish in Kentucky. For beginning anglers, it is usually the first fish they catch. Bluegills are found in most Kentucky waters, from small ponds to big lakes.

Common Names:
Bream, sun perch, blue sunfish, copperbelly

Bluegills may be distinguished from other sunfish by the dark spot at the base of the dorsal fin and the solid black gill flap. They also have 6-8 vertical bars on their sides, and a relatively small mouth. The spiny dorsal fin usually has 10 spines and is broadly connected to the soft dorsal. The anal fin has three spines.


Bluegills mainly eat underwater insects, small minnows, and small crustaceans. They feed all day long. Small mouth size limits the size of food particles ingested and almost dictates a diet of insects and similar small organisms. While insects remain the staple food item for adults, crayfish, snails, small fish, and fish eggs are also consumed.

Bluegills are well known for "bedding" in large groups, with their circular beds touching one another. Bedding occurs in water two to six feet deep over sand, shell or gravel, and often among plant roots when the bottom is soft. Spawning occurs from April through October with the peak in May and June, when water temperature rises to about 78-80 degrees. A female may lay 2,000 to 63,000 eggs, which hatch 30 to 35 hours after fertilization.

The bluegill enjoys warm, shallow lakes with rooted vegetation. During mid-day, they go to deeper waters of shallow lakes or beneath the shade of trees or brush.

SPORTING QUALITIES - Because of its willingness to take a variety of natural baits (e.g., crickets, grass shrimp, worms) and artificial lures (e.g., small spinners or popping bugs) during the entire year, its gameness when hooked, and its excellent food qualities, the bluegill is one of the more important sport fish the eastern United States.

EATING QUALITIES - Excellent; the flesh is white, flaky, firm and sweet. They are generally rolled in cornmeal or dipped in pancake batter before frying. Many rank the bluegill as the most delicious of all freshwater fish

.Fun facts

Some anglers call these fish sunnies or 'gills. During the spring, when bluegills spawn in shallow water, anglers sometimes use polarized sunglasses to see through the water and find the fish's spawning beds.