Panfish Fishing In Florida For 2024
Guide to fishing for panfish, sunfish, white bass and bluegill in lakes and ponds.
2024 Pan Fish Fishing Options
Bluegill Fishing Basics Video
The core principles shown in this video will work for most sunfish, perch and other panfish.
What Are Panfish?
Sunfish and panfish are terms encompassing various freshwater species like bluegill, sunfish, and perch. Panfish are opportunistic feeders, consuming a diverse array of prey. Their diets commonly consist of aquatic insects, small crustaceans, and even smaller fish. However, different species of sunfish preferences may shift based on seasonal variations and local conditions. During warmer months, when insect activity is high, panfish tend to focus more on insects and larvae. As temperatures drop, they may switch to feeding on smaller fish, worms or crustaceans.
Types Of Panfish
Mostly from the sunfish family, panfish that we cover in this website include bluegill, eight species of sunfish, rock bass, white and yellow bass, and white and yellow perch. Panfish are prolific spawners and repopulate the waters as fast as they are harvested.
Bluegill, perch and sunfish generally range from less than half a pound to over 4 or 5 pounds at world-record size. The world record for tilapia is over 9 pounds.
Fishing For Panfish
Sunish are eager feeders, making them an excellent target for youth fishing outings. The most popular method is using ultralight tackle, such as light rods and small reels, paired with tiny hooks and light line - ideally 2-6-pound.
Annually, panfish exhibit predictable movement patterns influenced mostly by water temperature and spawning instincts. As temperatures rise in spring, panfish migrate from deeper waters towards shallow areas, where they spawn. This migration provides anglers with prime opportunities to catch panfish, as they tend to congregate in large numbers. At this time, they will be found in shallow bays, spawning beds, or near submerged vegetation. In summer and winter they drop into deeper water.
Pan Fish Baits And Lures
Baits like live worms, insect larvae, and small minnows are commonly used to entice bites. Tiny jigs, spinners, soft plastics, and prepared baits are also effective. Miniature size is important to mimic the delicate feeding habits of freshwater panfish. A small bobber or float can be attached to the line to suspend the bait at a desired depth. Experiment with colors and sizes to match the preferences of the targeted species.
Common Sunfish Species In Florida
One of the easiest fish to catch, all types of bluegill are eager to take most types of sunfish bait and lures. They are sight feeders and prefer slightly stained water with little or no current. Bluegill tend to run in schools and congregate near their food supply. These aggressive eaters can survive in most warm-water fisheries, preferring water temperatures ranging from 60° to 85°. Ideal hook sizes are #6 to #10.
Found primarily in the southern part of the USA, flier sunfish prefer rivers and weedy lakes with warmer water temperatures. This is a favorite for private ponds. Its diet can include insects and small invertebrates. Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 12 hook. Fliers can be taken on flies and are fun to catch on ultra light equipment.
The males are quite colorful with red, orange or yellow breasts, and dark green upper bodies. Females are colored the same but in drab shades of the same colors. Redbreast sunfish are also commonly called longear bream, redbreasted bream and yellowbreast bream., Use standard sunfish bait fished on a size 10 to size 12 hook.
Also known as shellcrackers, redear sunfish are less common but can be found in certain waters throughout Florida. They are slightly larger than bluegill and are recognized for their distinctive red ear flap. The red stripe along the edge of the ears is the distinguishing mark for males, and is orange on females. Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 8 to size 10 hook.
Green on the top and often reddish to brown on the lower sides, they have a dark or black ear covering which looks like a black spot. The spotted sunfish naturally inhabits streams, creeks and rivers. They prefer areas with gravel or sand, and plenty of vegetation. They are small but quite good eating., Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 10 to size 12 hook.
The warmouth sunfish has a larger mouth than most sunfish and can eat larger prey. Adult warmouths feed on insects, mollusks, minnows and small fish. They prefer sandy bottoms of quiet areas in creeks, streams and rivers. They look for heavy vegetation to use as cover. Use standard sunfish bait, fished on a size 6 to size 10 hook.
Often called sand bass, stripes, barfish and silver bass, white bass have silver sides with horizontal dark stripes. They are a good fighter, fun to catch and tend to run in schools, often schools of several hundred or more. Their primary diet is bait fish and other smaller fish but they also eat worms and insects. Fish for white bass on light tackle with jigs, spoons, minnow-imitation lures and live bait.
Panfish fishing in Florida is a great way to introduce kids to the joys of fishing. The small size of these fish makes them perfect for small anglers. Their willingness to bite ensures a positive experience for young anglers. Taking kids fishing is a great investment in their future. With numerous youth fishing events and family-friendly locations across the state, panfish fishing in Florida is a fantastic way to create lasting memories and foster a love for the outdoors in the next generation of anglers.
Best Panfish, Bluegill, Sunfish & Perch Lakes In 2024
Blue Cypress Lake, Crescent Lake, Crooked Lake, Deer Point Lake, Doctors Lake, East Lake Tohopekaliga, Jim Woodruff Reservoir, Lake Apopka, Lake Conlin, Lake Eustis, Lake George, Lake Griffin, Lake Harris, Lake Harney, Lake Hatchineha, Lake Istokpoga, Lake Jackson, Lake Jessup, Lake Kissimmee, Lake Marian, Lake Miccosukee, Lake Monroe, Lake Okeechobee, Lake Santa Fe, Lake Seminole, Lake Talquin, Lake Tohopekaliga, Lake Wier, Lake Weohyakapka, Lochloosa Lake, Newnans Lake, Orange Lake, Rodman Reservoir, St. John's River and Tsala Apopka Lake are just some of the major lakes with healthy populations of panfish.
Florida State Fish Records
World record: 4 lbs 12 oz
State Record: 2.95 lbs
World record: 1 lbs 4 oz
State Record: 1.35 lbs
World record: 2 lbs 0 oz
State Record: 2.08 lbs
World record: 5.4 lbs
State Record: 4.86 lbs
World record: N/A
State Record: 0.83 lbs
World record: 2.4 lbs
State Record: 2.44 lbs
World record: 6.8 lbs
State Record: 4.69 lbs
Click the images and links above for species details.
Florida State Record Sunfish
The state record bluegill was caught from Crystal Lake.
The state record flier sunfish came from a pond.
The state record redbreast sunfish came out of the Suwannee River.
The state record redear sunfish came out of Merritts Mill Pond.
The state record spotted sunfish came out of the Suwannee River.
The state record warmouth came out of the Yellow River.
The state record white bass came from the Apalachicola River.
Sunfish fishing information in other states.
Learn the lifecycle of a panfish
There is a host of panfish anglers can pursue. Visit the panfish fishing page for details on many of these sunfish you might encounter in Florida fishing waters.