Freshwater Fish Species Identifier
North America has a great variety of freshwater fish for angler to target. Below you will find the most common fish, how to identify them, and the basic info you need to know to catch them.
Types of Bass
Largemouth bass are the most targeted species for freshwater anglers. They can be found in every state other than Alaska. They are the largest species of bass.
Learn more about largemouth bass
Smallmouth bass are the most aggressive bass which makes fishing for them a ton fun. They have a ton of fight which makes up for their smaller sizes. Even though they are smaller than largemouth they still can get pretty big.
Learn more about smallmouth bass
Spots are similar to largemouths except they have horizontal rows of small black spots on the lower side. The notch between their spiny and soft dorsal fins is shallower than largemouths.
Spotted bass also have smaller mouths and a circular patch of teeth on the tongue.
Learn more about spotted bass
Shoal bass are often misidentified as redeye bass due to their slightly red eyes. Their bodies are very similar to smallmouths in coloring.
The world record shoal bass is 7lb 8oz.
Redeye bass look very similar to largemouths but they have red coloration in their eyes and tails. They are found in the southeast US. Redeye bass are native to the Coosa River system in AL and GA.
Types of Striped Bass
Striped bass started out as saltwater fish but were added to freshwater where they survived and adapted. They are a schooling fish, so if you catch one it is very likely there are more around.
Black crappie have white bodies with a dark green and black back. Throughout their bodies they have black and brown spots.
World Record: 5 lb 7 oz – 19.25 inches long
White crappie have a white to silver body with a dark green back. They have blotches that make vertical bars across their sides.
World Record: 5 lb 3 oz – 21 inches long
Learn More About Crappie
Blue catfish have a flat dorsal fin and forked tail. They have smooth scaleless skin with a light blue body and white belly. They have four pairs of whisker-like barbels.
Blue catfish can grow up to 5ft long and more than 100 lbs. The average size you see is 1-2ft long.
Learn more about blue catfish
Channel catfish have a slender scaleless body with a forked tail. They have an olive green to light grey color body with small black spots along their body.
Channel catfish can grow up to 52 inches long and 60lbs. The average size you will see is 1-3ft long and 1-15lbs.
Learn more about channel catfish
Flathead catfish have a flathead and a smooth scaleless body. They have a pale yellow to light brown colored body with a cream belly.
Flathead catfish can grow up to 3-ft long and weight 123lb. The average size you will see is 10-15lbs.
Learn more about flathead catfish
Learn More About Catfish
- Large, deep bodied sunfish with a small mouth
- Sides are dark bluish-green in color with vertical bars throughout their body
- They have a large dark spot at the rear of the soft dorsal fin
- Their belly is deep orange to rust color
- Adults can grow to 16 in. but usually reach 6-11 in.
Learn more about bluegill
Flier (Centrarchus macropterus)
- Small sunfish with deep round body and small mouth
- Silver greenish color with brown back and sides
- Their belly is yellow to cream in color
- Dark vertical streak below their eye that extends down to the lower edge of their operculum
World Record Flier: 1 pound, 5 ounces (caught in Jackson County, Florida in 2015)
Learn more about flier
Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)
- Large, robust sunfish with a large mouth
- Blue irregular stripes of color on the sides of their head
- Large black spot at the rear of their soft dorsal fin
- Adults can grow to 12 in. but usually reach 8-10 in.
World Record Green Sunfish: 2 pounds, 2 ounces (caught on Stockton Lake, Missouri in 1971)
Learn more about green sunfish
Longear Sunfish (Lepomis megalotis)
- Small sunfish with a deep body and small mouth
- Bright red-orange color with iridescent blue spots on their back and sides
- Their belly is mostly red-orange in color
- Has a long gill or “ear” flap, and wavy blue lines on cheek and gill cover
- Adults can grow to 9 in. but are usually less than 6 in.
World Record Orange Spotted Sunfish: 1 pound, 12 oz (caught on Elephant Butte Lake, New Mexico in 1985)
Learn more about longear sunfish
Orangespotted Sunfish (Lepomis humilis)
- Silvery green body with orange spots
- Has 10 spines on their dorsal fin
- Adults grow up to 6 inches.
Learn more about orangespotted sunfish
Pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus)
- Olive green back with neon blue spots along sides and and range belly
- Adults can grow up to 12 inches.
World Record Pumpkinseed Sunfish: 1 pound, 8 ounces (caught in Honeoye, New York in 2016)
Learn more about pumpkinseed
Redbreast Sunfish (Lepomis auritus)
- Small sunfish with large mouth
- Females have a pale red and yellow body with dark blotches along their lateral lines
- Males have an olive to bronze colored body with a yellow belly and blue streaks on their cheek , back, and upper side.
World Record Redbreast Sunfish: 1 pound, 12 ounces (caught on the Suwannee River in Florida in 1984)
Learn more about redbreast sunfish
Redear Sunfish (Lepomis microlophus)
- Large, deep bodied sunfish with a small mouth with long, pointed snout and small mouth
- Adult males have a red margin on the gill cover flap while females have a light orange flap
- Adults can grow to 15 in. but usually reach 8-11 in.
World Record Redear Sunfish: 6.3 Pounds on Lake Havasu, Arizona in 2021)
Learn more about redear sunfish
- Dark green or brown color with brassy yellow flecks
- 4-5 wide dark saddles over the back and down the sides
- Often called “redeye” or “goggleye” due to its large, deep red eyes
- Has 5 or 6 spines in their anal fin
- Adults can grow to 17 inches but fish exceeding 12 inches are rare
World Record Rock Bass: 3 lbs 10 oz.
Learn more about rock bass
Warmouth (Lepomis gulosus)
- Medium-sized, robust sunfish with a large head and mouth
- Dark olive to grey colors with brownish sides and yellow markings
- Dark red-brown lines flowing from the back of their eye
- Adults can grow to 12 in. but most are less than 10 in.
World Record Warmouth: 2 pounds, 7 ounces (caught in Holt, Florida in 1985)
Learn more about warmouth
Learn More About Panfish