Panfish, Perch & Sunfish Fishing In New Jersey
Guide to fishing for sunfish in NJ lakes and ponds.
New Jersey offers excellent opportunities for panfish fishing, which is particularly popular among youth anglers. Two of the most common panfish species targeted by young anglers are sunfish and perch.
Sunfish, including bluegill and pumpkinseed, are abundant in New Jersey's ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers. These colorful and feisty fish are known for their willingness to bite and provide a thrilling experience for young anglers. Sunfish can be caught using various techniques, such as bobber fishing with worms, small jigs, or even flies. They are often found near underwater structures like docks, fallen trees, or weed beds. The purpose of this page is to share basic information about panfish fishing and identify popular sunfish fishing waters in the state.
Bluegill Fishing Basics Video
The core principles shown in this video will work for most sunfish, perch and other panfish.
Perch, especially yellow perch, are another popular panfish species in New Jersey. They can be found in lakes, ponds, and rivers throughout the state. Perch are known for their tasty white flesh and provide a fun and rewarding fishing experience for young anglers. Fishing for perch typically involves using small jigs tipped with live bait, such as minnows or worms. They are commonly found in deeper waters near submerged vegetation or underwater structures.
Panfish fishing offers youth anglers an opportunity to learn fundamental fishing skills, including casting, baiting hooks, and catching fish. It provides a sense of accomplishment as panfish are often eager to bite and provide a consistent action. The relatively small size of panfish also makes them manageable for young anglers to handle and release.
New Jersey's numerous lakes, ponds, and rivers provide ample opportunities for youth anglers to pursue panfish. Popular locations for panfish fishing include community ponds, city parks with fishing ponds, and small lakes throughout the state. These waters are often easily accessible and well-suited for youth fishing, providing a safe and enjoyable experience for young anglers and their families.
When participating in panfish fishing, it is important to follow all fishing regulations, including size and bag limits. Additionally, teaching young anglers about ethical angling practices, such as catch-and-release and respecting the environment, helps foster a conservation-minded approach to fishing.
Panfish fishing in New Jersey not only introduces young anglers to the joys of fishing but also helps cultivate a lifelong love for the sport. It provides an opportunity for families to bond, enjoy the outdoors, and create lasting memories while appreciating the beauty of New Jersey's waters.
Throughout the state of New Jersey you can find waters with populations of sunfish, including bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, rock bass, white perch and yellow perch. Sunfish can be caught year round, especially at lakes offering ice fishing in winter. One or more species of sunfish populate virtually all warm-water (and some cold-water) streams, ponds and lakes throughout the state. They can survive in waters that provide their natural food source of minnows, insects, crustaceans and worms. Their competitive nature amongst themselves, for food, makes them relatively easy to catch.
Major lakes like Greenwood Lake, Lake Hopatcong, Manasquan Reservoir, Merrill Creek Reservoir, Monksville Reservoir, Oak Ridge Reservoir, Rainbow Lake, Round Valley Reservoir, Ryker Lake, Spruce Run Reservoir, Swartswood Lake, Union Lake and Wanaque Reservoir all have healthy populations of one or more species of sunfish. Mosy small lakes, rivers and ponds also contain panfish.
Top Producing Panfish Lures & Bait
Check out the top producing lures and bait for bluegill, redear sunfish, rock bass and warmouth, as well as other smaller sunfish. Click here for the best lures for white bass, yellow bass, white perch and yellow perch.
In-state panfish, sunfish and perch
World record: 4 lbs 12 oz
State Record: 3 lbs 0 oz
World record: 2 lbs 4 oz
State Record: 1 lbs 8 oz
World record: 3.0 lbs
State Record: 1 lbs 5 oz
World record: 4.6 lbs
State Record: 3 lbs 1 oz
World record: 4 lbs 3 oz
State Record: 2 lbs 6 oz
Click the images and links above for species details.
New Jersey State Record Sunfish
The state record bluegill was caught from a farm pond.
The state record pumpkinseed sunfish came out of a private pond.
The state record rockbass was caught in the Saddle River.
The state record white perch was caught out of Forest Hill Park Lake.
The state record yellow perch was caught from Holiday Lake.
Panfish are prolific spawners and repopulate the waters as fast as they are harvested. A common problem with panfish fishing is that the waters are under-fished causing panfish to overpopulate. As a result they tend to stay small in size due to lack of food source.
The term "panfish" comprises many species, each called by a variety of names. The bluegill tops the list and is the most common.
Sunfish 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 New Jersey fishing waters.