Scott Mackenthun of the MN DNR walks through identifying sunfish in Minnesota’s waters.

Identifying Sunfish

The three main different types of sunfish you will run into in Minnesota are the bluegill sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish, and the green sunfish.

Starting with the bluegill, you can identify them by their long black ear tab and long pectoral fin with a yellow or light orange breast.

This is the most common sunfish anglers will run into and it is widely distributed across the state.

One of the prettiest fish in our waters is the pumpkinseed sunfish. One easy way to identify the pumpkinseed is by their red/orange and black ear tab. They are usually very color and also have blue lines on the gill covers. 

The last sunfish species I want to cover is the green sunfish. Green sunfish can often be one of the harder sunfish to identify, because there is a lot of hybridization that happens.

Green sunfish have a black ear tab, a light green color and lack the bars that are often found on bluegills and pumpkinseeds. Green sunfish also have a large mouth in proportion to their bodies. Larger than bluegills and pumpkinseed sunfish.

Hopefully this helps you while identifying sunfish in Minnesota’s waters.