Native Fish in the Northeast

Largemouth Bass Micropterus salmoides

Largemouth bass are fish of quiet weedy water. They are commonly found in shallow bays, small lakes, and ponds.

Average Length: 13 inches

Average Lifespan: 15 years

Life History: Spawn in late spring in nests near shore. Eggs hatch in 3 to 5 days. A popular recreational sport fish.

Diet: Fish, invertebrates and amphibians

Identification: Dark horizontal band; Jaw extends past the eye

Bluegill Fish Lepomis macrochirus

The Bluegill fish play an important role in pond and lake management to keep crustacean and insect populations low. A single Bluegill population can eat up to six times its own weight in one summer. The Bluegill Fish are density dependent, so as their number increase, their relative sizes decrease.

Average Length: 8 inches

Lifespan: 10 years

Life History: Spawn in early summer in nests near shore

Diet: Invertebrates and small fish

Identification: Eyespot on soft dorsal fin. Long pointed pectoral fins

Channel Catfish Ictalurus punctatus

Channel catfish are a popular recreational fish. The Catfish name was given because of the whiskers they have which are called “barbels”.  With Catfish living in such dark, murky waters their vision isn’t very useful. The barbels help them search for food using their senses of touch and taste.

Average Length: 15 to 24 inches

Lifespan:  15 years

Life History: Spawning starts in May and can continue for several months, but do not however reproduce well in ponds

Diet: Small fish, crustaceans (crayfish), clams and snails, aquatic insects and small mammals

Identification: Flat heads and no scales, typically gray to greenish-gray on the upper part of its body and has a deeply forked tail. Smaller adults and juveniles have black or dusty spots on their body.

Fathead Minnow Pimephales promelas

The Fathead Minnow name comes from the flat head and snout. Fathead Minnows have been proven to reduce or eliminate mosquito larvae from small impoundments and drainage ditches.

Average Length: 3 inches

Lifespan: 2 years

Life History: Spawn from May to August along shorelines of ponds and calm shallows of streams

Diet: Algae and phytoplankton

Identification: Olive-grey color with a stripe along the back and side

Black Crappie Pomoxis nigromaculatus

Black crappie are freshwater species. They feed in the morning and they form schools often.

Average Length:  10.8 inches

Lifespan: 6 to 10 years

Life History: Spawning involves the simultaneous extrusion of eggs by the females and milt by the males in the nests they had previously prepared before the female crappie had arrived at the spawning habitat

Diet: Planktonic crustaceans and free swimming, nocturnal, and larvae

Identification: Irregularly arranged speckles and blotches in their color pattern,  seven to eight spines in their dorsal fin

Pumpkinseed Sunfish Lepomis gibbosus

Pumpkinseed sunfish are commonly found in farm ponds, small lakes, and weedy bays of larger bodies of fresh water as well as upper reaches of creeks and rivers.

Average Length: 8 inches

Lifespan: 9 years

Life History: Spawn in early summer in nests near shore. Males guard the nests and young. 

Diet: Invertebrates and small fish

Identification: Typically mottled blue, orange, yellow and olive green. Blue and orange wavy lines appear on their cheeks.

Yellow Perch Perca flavescens

Yellow perch are commonly found in freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers, and brackish cheers.

Average Length: 11 inches

Lifespan: 9 years

Life History: Spawn in early spring. Lay eggs in ribbons among submerged vegetation. Eggs hatch in 10 days. Adults move in schools.

Diet: Invertebrates and fish

Identification: Dark vertical bars on sides; orange pelvic fins

Brown Bullhead Ameiurus nebulosus

Brown Bullheads are commonly found in quiet waters of lakes, ponds,  and backstreams of rivers and streams.

Average Length: 8 to 13 inches

Average Lifespan: 8 years

Life History: Spawns between April and June

Diet: Insects, crayfish, worms, and small fish

Identification: Typically dark brown, sometimes grayish on back. Tail fish slightly rounded.

Triploid Grass Carp 

Triploid Grass Carp are freshwater species that are widely used as a method of aquatic weed control.

Average Length: 10 to 12 inches

Lifespan: 5 to 9 years

Life History: Spawn in late May or early June 

Diet: Hydrilla, Southern Naiad, Pondweed, Chara (musk-grass)

Identification: Short dorsal fin and no barbels

Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss

Rainbow trout are commonly found in cool clear rivers, streams, and lakes.

Average Length:  16 inches

Lifespan:  4 – 6 years

Life History: Spawn in early to late spring

Diet: Insects, fish eggs, small minnows, crustaceans, and worms

Identification: Typically blue-green or yellow-green in color with a pink streak on their sides. Small black spots on their backs, fins, and tail. 

Brown Trout Salmo trutta

Brown trout are found in coldwater mountain streams to larger rivers, ponds, and lakes.

Average Length:  7 to 14 inches

Lifespan:  10 years

Life History: Spawning season is from October through November, sometimes extending into December

Diet: Land-based invertebrates or other fish

Identification: Typically olive green to brown on top and mostly with black spots along their sides, back, and dorsal fin. 

Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis

Brook Trout are found in lakes and streams with sand and vegetation.

Average Length: 10.4 inches

Lifespan:  16 to 24 years

Life History: Spawn between September and October

Diet: Worms, leeches, insects, crustaceans, fishes, mollusks, amphibians, and small mammals

Identification: Olive top with scattered spots and lower fins are red or orange with a white streak and a black streak

Golden Shiners Notemigonus crysoleucas

Golden shiners are commonly found in lakes and ponds with weedy areas.

Average Length: 6 inches

Lifespan:  7-9 years

Life History: Spawning occurs during spring and early summer 

Diet: Zooplankton and aquatic insects

Identification: Dark green top, brassy belly, and golden sheen