Sunfish - Family Centrarchidae


  BLACK CRAPPIE - Pomoxis nigromaculatus

black crappie fish 

Fish Notes

The black crappie is a member of the sunfish family and one of the most popular sunfish to catch by fisherman. Black crappies are generally found in lakes, ponds and slow moving large rivers. Specimens found in county streams are most likely individuals that were dislodged from ponds and lakes by heavy rains. The black crappie was found at two percent of Fairfax County sampling sites.

Fairfax County Native: Unknown, as it has been widely introduced

Size: 12 inches, rarely to 17 inches

Diet: Primarily fish as adults, invertebrates and fish as juveniles

 map of black crappie distribution

 


   BLUESPOTTED SUNFISH - Enneacanthus gloriosus

bluespotted sunfish

Fish Notes

The bluespotted sunfish is rare in Fairfax County with only one juvenile specimen collected in the tidal portion of Dogue Creek.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 3 to 4 inches

Diet: Insects and other small invertebrates

map of bluespotted sunfish distribution


  BLUEGILL - Lepomis macrochirus

bluegill fish

Fish Notes

With its tolerance of a wide range of environmental conditions, the bluegill has become the most common sunfish in Fairfax County. The bluegill were found at 71 percent of Fairfax County sampling sites.

Fairfax County Native: No

Size: 10 inches, rarely to 12 inches

Diet: Small aquatic and terrestrial insects

map of bluegill distribution


  GREEN SUNFISH - Lepomis cyanellus

 green sunfish

Fish Notes

The green sunfish is tolerant of environmental disturbances but is intolerant of low pH. This sunfish has a large mouth compared to other sunfish and feeds mostly on aquatic and terrestrial insects. The green sunfish was found at 61 percent of Fairfax County sampling sites.

Fairfax County Native: No

Size: 7 inches, rarely to 10 inches

Diet: Primarily aquatic and terrestrial insects, but will eat small fish

map of green sunfish distribution


  LARGEMOUTH BASS - Micropterus salmoides

largemouth bass fish

Fish Notes

The largemouth bass is one of the most popular sporting fish in the country. This species is not native to our area and has been introduced to most of the continental U.S. The Virginia state record is 16 pounds, 4 ounces. The largemouth bass was found at 50 percent of Fairfax County sampling sites.

Fairfax County Native: No

Size: 18 inches, rarely to 26 inches

Diet: Insects, fish, crayfish and frogs

map of largemouth bass distribution


  LONGEAR SUNFISH - Lepomis megalotis

longear sunfish

Fish Notes

The longear sunfish is native to the southwestern portion of Virginia and has been introduced to our area. It is a brilliantly colored fish during the breeding season. The longear sunfish was found at two percent of Fairfax County sampling sites.

Fairfax County Native: No

Size: 6 inches, rarely to 9 inches

Diet: Aquatic and terrestrial insects

map of longear sunfish distribution


  PUMPKINSEED - Lepomis gibbosus

pumpkinseed fish 

Fish Notes

The pumpkinseed gets its name from its general body shape. It is oval and compressed laterally. It is a freshwater fish that can travel into brackish water. The pumpkinseed was found at 28 percent of Fairfax County sampling sites.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 7 inches, rarely to 10 inches

Diet: Aquatic and terrestrial insects and other small invertebrates

map of pumpkinseed distribution


  REDBREAST SUNFISH - Lepomis auritus

redbreast sunfish 

Fish Notes

As the name implies, the redbreast sunfish has a bright reddish orange belly. Mature adults sport a long black “tab” on their opercular (cheek area) flap. The redbreast sunfish was found at 40 percent of Fairfax County sampling sites.

Fairfax County Native: Yes

Size: 7 inches, rarely to 10 inches

Diet: Aquatic insects and other invertebrates

map of redbreast sunfish distribution


  REDEAR SUNFISH - Lepomis microlophus

redear sunfish

Fish Notes

This fish’s name refers to the red tab on its opercular (cheek area) flap. The redear sunfish is also called “shellcracker” because their diet consists of snails and small clams which requires them to crush the shells in order to eat them.  This fish was found at two percent of Fairfax County sampling sites.

Fairfax County Native: No

Size: 10 inches, rarely to 15 inches

Diet: Snails, clams and aquatic insects

map of redear sunfish distribution


  SMALLMOUTH BASS - Micropterus dolomieu

smallmouth bass fish

Fish Notes

The smallmouth bass is enjoyed by anglers for its hard fight and its tendency to jump out of the water when hooked. The popularity of the smallmouth bass as a game fish has led to its widespread distribution. The Virginia state record is 8 pounds, 1 ounce. The smallmouth bass was found at six percent of Fairfax County sampling sites.

Fairfax County Native: No

Size: 17 inches, rarely to 20 inches

Diet: Crayfish, fish and aquatic insects

map of smallmouth bass distribution


  WARMOUTH - Lepomis gulosus

warmouth fish

Fish Notes

The warmouth’s common name is due to the stripes originating from the upper mouth and running through the eye that bear a resemblance to war paint. The warmouth was found at three percent of Fairfax County sampling sites.

Fairfax County Native: Unknown, but probably an introduced species

Size: 8 inches, rarely to 10 inches

Diet: Crayfish, aquatic insects and fish

map of warmouth distribution 

 

References

Jenkins, R. E., N. M. Burkhead, 1994, Freshwater Fishes of Virginia, 1079 pgs., American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD

For more information, please email the Stormwater Planning Division or call 703-324-5500, TTY 711

 


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