Sunfish (Bream) The sunfish family, Centrarchidae, is a large group of freshwater ray-finned fish. The family contains eight genre, of which two, Black Bass, and Crappie at not view as being closely associated with “sunfish.” Rather the term sunfish has become associated with any of a large group of species, rock bass, bluegill, pumpkin seed, mud sunfish, Sacramento perch, flier, banded sunfish, redbreast sunfish, green sunfish, pumpkinseed, warmouth, orangespotted sunfish, Florida bluegill, Handpaint bluegill, northern longear sunfish, central longear sunfish, Ox-bow longear sunfish, redear sunfish, redspotted sunfish, spotted sunfish, and bantam sunfish.
So for our purposes we will refer to waters with “sunfish” to be a mix of the above species. They go by a wide variety of local names, panfish and bream are a frequently used generic terms. All sunfish have some similarities, in that all have a prominent ear flap, are deep body fish that give the impression of plate, all are small fish, with few getting much over 12 inches in length. Males of most species hollow out a depression as a spawning nest and defend the eggs and often fry for a period of time.
The majority of these fish are valued as sport fish, as they readily take a wide variety of baits and lures. Many a fisher’s first fish was a sunfish. If there is a poster fish for this grouping it would have to be the bluegill. Today, sunfish exist in all the lower 48 states.