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Hybrid sunfish ID

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#1 TJH

  • NANFA Guest
  • Southeast Michigan

Posted 27 July 2021 - 07:41 PM

First time poster here, I’m looking for some input on some fish I caught back in June of 2012. I was fairly confident at the time that they were all bluegill x green sunfish F1 hybrids, but looking over the photos now they actually vary quite a bit in appearance, so now I’m really not sure.


For some background, they were all caught in Lake St. Clair’s Bouvier Bay (eastern side of Anchor Bay). I caught a few more than just the ones pictured, and all were caught within about a week of each other. The only Lepomis species I’ve ever knowingly caught in the area or known anyone else to have caught are bluegill and pumpkinseeds (both species are very common; the latter is usually just called “sunfish” or “sunnies” around here). I’ve never noticed any green sunfish at all, although I’m sure they can be found somewhere in the lake since it’s well within their range. I’ve never noticed any fish similar to these before or after (though I haven’t fished there anywhere near as much in recent years).


These fish were how I first learned about sunfish hybrids, and I’ve been pretty interested in them ever since. I actually have some questions regarding different hybrids and their fertility that I’ll probably make another in-depth post about eventually.


Anyway, here’s the pics:


This was the first one that I caught, looks pretty typical of a bluegill x green F1 from what I know.

Attached File  HybridBG1_06-21-12.jpg   250.74KB   3 downloads


3 typical bluegill on top, one unidentified fish on the bottom. I’m still guessing hybrid, but it doesn’t look like a normal BGxG F1. I thought maybe a pure green, but there’s no visible red on the gill flap, no orange on the fins, the mouth is kinda small, and it looks slightly rounder than normal for a green. These 4 fish were kept on ice overnight, not sure how it would have affected their color.

Attached File  HybridBG2_06-22-12.jpg   147.08KB   0 downloads


Here’s another that looks like a BGxG F1 to me, though there’s no orange on the fins at all.

Attached File  HybridBG3_06-24-12.jpg   366.1KB   0 downloads


These last ones look a little odd because, if I remember correctly, they were stored on ice too long and froze solid before thawing them out to fillet. There’s 8 typical bluegill on the bottom, and the top row is 1 pumpkinseed on the left and 2 unidentified fish on the right. They look similar to the fish in the second pic in that they don’t look like normal bluegill F1 hybrids, but they also don’t look like pure greens (no orange fins, roundish body, small mouth, hard to see any red edge to the gill flap in the pic, wish I had a better pic of those 2). Note: this is only representative of what I kept, I caught a much higher percentage of smaller bluegill and pumpkinseeds compared to the hybrids, though all the hybrids were around that same size.

Attached File  HybridBG4&5_06-25-12.jpg   217.85KB   0 downloads


I’m leaning towards BGxG F1 for pics 1 and 3, and maybe green backcrosses for pics 2 and 4 (odds of F2s seem really low since F1s are mostly male and both parent species must be in the area). It’s possible that the “backcrosses” are just pure greens, and that would provide an explanation for why there are green hybrids, but they look so unlike what I’ve seen pictures of online, so I’m not sure. They might also be female F1 hybrids, explaining why they look similar to, but not exactly like, the others. But it seems odd that I'd find so many females when the F1 is supposed to be heavily male. Any input would be appreciated!


#2 Fleendar the Magnificent

Fleendar the Magnificent
  • NANFA Guest
  • Ohio

Posted 17 September 2021 - 10:05 PM

In image #2, that bottom fish is not a green sunfish, but possibly / probably a hybrid. Green-gills typically have a larger mouth and sometimes the orange tinged fins. A full-blood green sunfish is immediately recognizable when you catch them compared to a bluegill or green-gill. JMHO, perhaps a green-gill with more bluegill traits than green? Aside from that, I don't know?


Kind regards.


The Grumpy Old Man.

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