Panfish Fishing In New York For 2024
Guide to fishing for panfish, sunfish, perch and bluegill in lakes and ponds.
2024 Pan Fish Fishing Options
Bluegill Fishing Basics Video
The core principles shown in this video will work for most sunfish, perch and other panfish.
What Are Panfish?
Sunfish and panfish are terms encompassing various freshwater species like bluegill, sunfish, and perch. Panfish are opportunistic feeders, consuming a diverse array of prey. Their diets commonly consist of aquatic insects, small crustaceans, and even smaller fish. However, different species of sunfish preferences may shift based on seasonal variations and local conditions. During warmer months, when insect activity is high, panfish tend to focus more on insects and larvae. As temperatures drop, they may switch to feeding on smaller fish, worms or crustaceans.
Types Of Panfish
Mostly from the sunfish family, panfish that we cover in this website include bluegill, eight species of sunfish, rock bass, white and yellow bass, and white and yellow perch. Panfish are prolific spawners and repopulate the waters as fast as they are harvested.
Bluegill, perch and sunfish generally range from less than half a pound to over 4 or 5 pounds at world-record size. The world record for tilapia is over 9 pounds.
Fishing For Panfish
Sunish are eager feeders, making them an excellent target for youth fishing outings. The most popular method is using ultralight tackle, such as light rods and small reels, paired with tiny hooks and light line - ideally 2-6-pound.
Annually, panfish exhibit predictable movement patterns influenced mostly by water temperature and spawning instincts. As temperatures rise in spring, panfish migrate from deeper waters towards shallow areas, where they spawn. This migration provides anglers with prime opportunities to catch panfish, as they tend to congregate in large numbers. At this time, they will be found in shallow bays, spawning beds, or near submerged vegetation. In summer and winter they drop into deeper water.
Pan Fish Baits And Lures
Baits like live worms, insect larvae, and small minnows are commonly used to entice bites. Tiny jigs, spinners, soft plastics, and prepared baits are also effective. Miniature size is important to mimic the delicate feeding habits of freshwater panfish. A small bobber or float can be attached to the line to suspend the bait at a desired depth. Experiment with colors and sizes to match the preferences of the targeted species.
Common Sunfish Species In New York
One of the easiest fish to catch, all types of bluegill are eager to take most types of sunfish bait and lures. They are sight feeders and prefer slightly stained water with little or no current. Bluegill tend to run in schools and congregate near their food supply. These aggressive eaters can survive in most warm-water fisheries, preferring water temperatures ranging from 60° to 85°. Ideal hook sizes are #6 to #10.
Shaped much like a pumpkin seed, it often has body coloring similar to a pumpkin color. The favorite habitat of the pumpkinseed sunfish is weed-covered lake bottoms in preferably clear water. They thrive in warmer water temperatures ranging from mid seventies to low eighties. Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 8 to size 12 hook.
Native to the eastern half of the USA, the rock bass is good eating and fun to catch. You can find rock bass in streams and rivers where they prefer clear water with rocky bottom and vegetation. The rock bass, aka goggle-eye, green sunfish and sometimes branch perch, prefers water temperatures from 64 to 72 degrees., Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 8 to size 12 hook.
Often called sand bass, stripes, barfish and silver bass, white bass have silver sides with horizontal dark stripes. They are a good fighter, fun to catch and tend to run in schools, often schools of several hundred or more. Their primary diet is bait fish and other smaller fish but they also eat worms and insects. Fish for white bass on light tackle with jigs, spoons, minnow-imitation lures and live bait.
The white perch is named for its color which is generally white or silver with shades of adaptive color from its environment to help it hide from predators. They are a good tasting fish, are quite prolific and can be considered a nuisance in some waters. White perch make a great fish fry with nice filets coming from ones approaching a pound. For bait, use worms, minnows, jigs, spoons and very small lures imitating baitfish.
Yellow perch are found in ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers, ideally in clear water near vegetation. They are often misnamed as perch, rock perch and many other names. Their primary diet consists of minnows and other small fish, insects and worms. Yellow perch prefer water temperatures from 66 to 70 degrees but remain active in temperatures outside this range. They are a favorite of many ice fishing enthusiasts.
Panfish fishing in New York is a great way to introduce kids to the joys of fishing. The small size of these fish makes them perfect for small anglers. Their willingness to bite ensures a positive experience for young anglers. Taking kids fishing is a great investment in their future. With numerous youth fishing events and family-friendly locations across the state, panfish fishing in New York is a fantastic way to create lasting memories and foster a love for the outdoors in the next generation of anglers.
Best Panfish, Bluegill, Sunfish & Perch Lakes In 2024
Throughout the state of New York you can find waters with populations of sunfish, including bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, rock bass, white bass, white perch and yellow perch. Panfish and perch Lakes include Allegheny Reservoir, Ashokan Reservoir, Black Lake, Canandaigua Lake, Cannonsville Reservoir, Carry Falls Reservoir, Cayuga Lake, Chautauqua Lake, Conesus Lake, Great Sacandaga Lake, Indian Lake, Keuka Lake, Lake Champlain, Lake George, Long Lake, Lows Lake, Oneida Lake, Onondaga Lake, Otsego Lake, Owasco Lake, Pepacton Reservoir, Piseco Lake, Raquette Lake, Saratoga Lake, Seneca Lake, Schroon Lake, Skaneateles Lake, Union Falls Pond and Upper Saranac Lake.
New York State Fish Records
World record: 4 lbs 12 oz
State Record: 2 lbs 8 oz
World record: 2 lbs 4 oz
State Record: 1 lbs 9 oz
World record: 3.0 lbs
State Record: 2 lbs 0 oz
World record: 6.8 lbs
State Record: 3 lbs 8 oz
World record: 4.6 lbs
State Record: 3 lbs 1 oz
World record: 4 lbs 3 oz
State Record: 3 lbs 8 oz
Click the images and links above for species details.
New York State Record Sunfish
The state record bluegill was caught from Kohlbach Pond.
The state record pumpkinseed sunfish came out of Indian Lake.
The state record rockbass was caught in Port Bay, Lake Ontario.
The state record white bass came from the Lower Niagara River.
The state record white perch was caught out of Lake Oscaletta.
The state record yellow perch was taken out of Lake Erie.
Sunfish fishing information in other states.
Learn the lifecycle of a panfish
There is a host of panfish anglers can pursue. Visit the panfish fishing page for details on many of these sunfish you might encounter in New York fishing waters.