The Pumpkinseed is a North American freshwater fish of the sunfish family (Centrarchidae). Pumpkinseed’s natural range in North America is from New Brunswick down the east coast to South Carolina. It then runs inland to the middle of North America, and extends through Iowa and back through Pennsylvania.
Pumpkinseed sunfish have been introduced throughout most of North America and they can now be found from Washington and Oregon on the Pacific Coast to Georgia on the Atlantic Coast. They are primarily found in the northeastern United States and more rarely in the south-central or southwestern region of the continent.
Pumpkinseeds grow to about 4 in” (10 cm) in length, but can grow up to 14 in in some cases.
They are orange, green, yellow or blue in color, with speckles over their sides and back and a yellow-orange breast and belly. The coloration of the ctenoid scales of the pumpkinseed is one of the most vibrant of any freshwater fish and can range from an olive-green or brown to bright orange and blue. The sides are covered with vertical bars that are a faint green or blue, which are typically more prevalent in female pumpkinseeds. Orange spots may cover the dorsal, anal, and caudal fins and the cheeks have blue lines across them. The pumpkinseed is noted for the orange-red spot on the margin of its black gill cover. The pectoral fins of a pumpkinseed can be amber or clear, while the dorsal spines are black. Pumpkinseeds have a small body that is shaped much like that of a pumpkinseed, giving them their common name. They have a small mouth with an upper jaw stopping right under the eye.
Pumpkinseeds are very similar to the bluegill, and are often found in the same habitats. One difference between the two species is their opercular flap. The flap is black in both species, but the pumpkinseed has a crimson spot in the shape of a halfmoon on the back portion of its opercular flap. Pumpkinseeds have seven or eight vertical, irregular bands on their sides that are duller in color compared to the bluegill.
Pumpkinseeds typically live in warm, calm lakes, ponds, and pools of creeks and small rivers with plenty of vegetation. They prefer clear water where they can find shelter to hide. They tend to stay near the shore and can be found in numbers within shallow and protected areas. They will feed at all water levels from the surface to the bottom in the daylight, and their heaviest feeding will be in the afternoon. Pumpkinseed sunfish usually travel together in schools that can also include bluegills and other sunfish.
Pumpkinseeds are more tolerant of low oxygen levels than bluegill, but less tolerant of warmer waters. Groups of young fish school close to shore, but adults tend to travel in groups of two to four in slightly deeper yet still covered waters. Pumpkinseeds are active throughout the day, but they rest at night near the bottom or in protected areas in rocks or near submerged logs.
Size at shipping about 1.5 – 2″ juvenile
Minimum quantity for “Gamefish – Sunfish Pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus” is no less than 10