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Montana Animal Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Bluegill - Lepomis macrochirus

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Exotic Species (not native to Montana)

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNA

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:
FWP Conservation Tier: 4


 

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General Description
Like all of the sunfish, the bluegill is native to central and eastern North America, not Montana. However, it is now found across most of eastern Montana. And, like the others sunfish species, the bluegill is a shoreline spring spawner. Males begin the nest-building by fanning the bottom with their fins to clear a shallow, bowl-like depression. Spawning is very temperature-dependent, but when the time is right a willing female lays her eggs in the nest. The male guards the nest tenaciously until the fry hatch out, and any type of intruder will be viciously attacked during the nesting season. All of the smaller sunfishes have been known to hybridize with other species and bluegills are no exception. Bluegill are the largest of the sunfishes other than bass and thus widely acclaimed as a sport fish in the Midwest. In Montana, they have grown to nearly 3 pounds, but they generally do not attain a size to make them a desirable sport fish. Consequently, fisheries managers who used to routinely stock bluegill in combination with bass, seldom do so in Montana today.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Gill rakers moderately long and slender. Ear flap smaller on females and young males than adult males. Young usually have vertical bars that become faint as adults.

Species Range
Montana Range

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Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 343

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Relative Density

Recency

 

(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)



Habitat
Preferred habitat is comparitively warm lakes and ponds with abundant vegetation; also, in the quiet pools of streams.

Food Habits
Avid feeder. Eats mostly aquatic insects and other invert. throughout life. Small amounts of aquatic vegetation and a small fish are also taken by adults.

Ecology
Mostly found with other sunfish species in southeast Montana.

Reproductive Characteristics
Sexually matures mostly in 2 years. Spawns May - July after water temperatures exceed 68 degrees F.

References
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Citation for data on this website:
Bluegill — Lepomis macrochirus.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=AFCQB11060
 
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