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Panfish Fishing In Ohio

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Guide to fishing for panfish-sunfish in OH lakes and ponds.

By AA-Fishing Staff Writers

Throughout the state of Ohio you can find waters with populations of panfish, including bluegill, green sunfish, hybrid sunfish, longear sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish, redear sunfish, rock bass, warmouth, white bass, yellow bass and yellow perch.

Panfish Fishing

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.

Sunfish Size

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 Ohio


Bluegill
Bluegill

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.


Green Sunfish
Green Sunfish

Another species that adds variety to panfish fishing in the state is the green sunfish. While they may not be as numerous as bluegill, they are still sought after by many anglers. The green sunfish is native to lakes and ponds and prefers areas with heavy vegetation or other cover. Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 8 to size 12 hook.


Hybrid Sunfish
Hybrid Sunfish

A high percentage of the hybrid sunfish are male, which limits the reproductive process. They do quite well in private ponds and small lakes, and prefer areas with heavy vegetation and cover. They have very small mouths, so use size 10, to size 12 hooks.


Longear Sunfish
Longear Sunfish

Anglers love the longear sunfish for several reasons. They feed on the surface making them vulnerable to fly fishing. They are also easy for kids to catch on worms or cut baits, plus they make great bait for larger predator fish. Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 8 to size 12 hook.


Pumpkinseed Sunfish
Pumpkinseed Sunfish

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.


Redear Sunfish
Redear Sunfish

Also known as shellcrackers, redear sunfish are less common but can be found in certain waters throughout Ohio. They are slightly larger than bluegill and are recognized for their distinctive red ear flap. The red stripe along the edge of the ears is the distinguishing mark for males, and is orange on females. Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 8 to size 10 hook.


Rock Bass
Rock Bass

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.


Warmouth
Warmouth

The warmouth sunfish has a larger mouth than most sunfish and can eat larger prey. Adult warmouths feed on insects, mollusks, minnows and small fish. They prefer sandy bottoms of quiet areas in creeks, streams and rivers. They look for heavy vegetation to use as cover. Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 6 to size 10 hook.


White Bass
White Bass

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.


Yellow Bass
Yellow Bass

Yellow bass are generally silver or golden on the sides with yellow bellies and dark horizontal stripes. Yellow bass prefer warmer water temperatures yet remain active, even in colder water.They average about half a pound and tend to run in schools. Use spoons, spinners, or live minnows.


Yellow Perch
Yellow Perch

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 Ohio 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 Ohio 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

Panfish fishing in Ohio

Ohio waters are loaded with sunfish and an array of panfish. Ponds, creeks, rivers, parks and most fishing water in the state. They are plentiful in some of the larger impoundments including Alum Creek Lake, Atwood Lake, Berlin Lake, Buck Creek Lake, Buckeye Lake, Caesar Creek Lake, Charles Mill Lake, Clendening Reservoir, Cowan Lake, East Fork Lake, Grand Lake St Marys, Hoover Reservoir, Indian Lake, Lake Erie, Lake Milton, Meander Creek Reservoir, Mosquito Lake, Piedmont Reservoir, Pymatuning Lake, Rocky Fork Lake, Salt Fork Lake, Seneca Lake, Tappan Reservoir and West Branch Lake.

Ohio State Fish Records

Bluegill

Bluegill

World record: 4 lbs 12 oz

State Record: 3.28 lbs

Green Sunfish

Green sunfish

World record: 2.2 lbs

State Record: 1.2 lbs

Hybrid Sunfish

Hybrid sunfish

World record: N/A

State Record: 2.03 lbs

Longear Sunfish

Longear sunfish

World record: 1.75 lbs

State Record: 0.41 lbs

Pumpkinseed Sunfish

Pumpkinseed sunfish

World record: 2 lbs 4 oz

State Record: 1.10 lbs

Redear Sunfish

Redear sunfish

World record: 5.4 lbs

State Record: 3.58 lbs

Rock Bass

Rock bass

World record: 3.0 lbs

State Record: 1.97 lbs

Warmouth

Warmouth

World record: 2.4 lbs

State Record: 1.32 lbs

White Bass

White Bass

World record: 6.8 lbs

State Record: 4.0 lbs

White Perch

White perch

World record: 4.6 lbs

State Record: 1.72 lbs

Yellow Perch

Yellow perch

World record: 4 lbs 3 oz

State Record: 2.86 lbs

Click the images and links above for species details.

OH State Sunfish Records

Salt Fork Reservoir produced the state record bluegill.

The state record green sunfish, redear sunfish, hybrid sunfish, pumpkinseed sunfish and warmouth all came out of private ponds.

Deer Creek served up the state record rock bass.

The state white perch record fish was pulled from Green Creek.

Lake Erie posted the state record yellow perch.

The state record white bass was caught from a gravel pit.

 

Sunfish fishing information in other states.

AL Panfish & Sunfish Fishing AR Panfish & Sunfish Fishing AZ Panfish & Sunfish Fishing CA Panfish & Sunfish Fishing CO Panfish & Sunfish Fishing CT Panfish & Sunfish Fishing DC Panfish & Sunfish Fishing DE Panfish & Sunfish Fishing FL Panfish & Sunfish Fishing GA Panfish & Sunfish Fishing HI Panfish & Sunfish Fishing IA Panfish & Sunfish Fishing ID Panfish & Sunfish Fishing
IL Panfish & Sunfish Fishing IN Panfish & Sunfish Fishing KS Panfish & Sunfish Fishing KY Panfish & Sunfish Fishing LA Panfish & Sunfish Fishing MA Panfish & Sunfish Fishing MD Panfish & Sunfish Fishing ME Panfish & Sunfish Fishing MI Panfish & Sunfish Fishing MN Panfish & Sunfish Fishing MO Panfish & Sunfish Fishing MS Panfish & Sunfish Fishing MT Panfish & Sunfish Fishing
NC Panfish & Sunfish Fishing ND Panfish & Sunfish Fishing NE Panfish & Sunfish Fishing NH Panfish & Sunfish Fishing NJ Panfish & Sunfish Fishing NM Panfish & Sunfish Fishing NV Panfish & Sunfish Fishing NY Panfish & Sunfish Fishing OH Panfish & Sunfish Fishing OK Panfish & Sunfish Fishing OR Panfish & Sunfish Fishing PA Panfish & Sunfish Fishing
RI Panfish & Sunfish Fishing SC Panfish & Sunfish Fishing SD Panfish & Sunfish Fishing TN Panfish & Sunfish Fishing TX Panfish & Sunfish Fishing UT Panfish & Sunfish Fishing VA Panfish & Sunfish Fishing VT Panfish & Sunfish Fishing WA Panfish & Sunfish Fishing WI Panfish & Sunfish Fishing WV Panfish & Sunfish Fishing WY Panfish & Sunfish Fishing
 

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 Ohio fishing waters.