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Lepomis Gibbosus



Lake, River

1 - 1 pounds

4" - 16"

Pumpkinseed Game Fish Quality Decent
Pumpkinseed Meal Quality Poor
Pumpkinseed Fly Fishing Quality Decent


Also Known As:

Pumpkinseed (Lepomis Gibbosus) Description

Pumpkinseed fish is a popular freshwater fish that belongs to the order Perciformes family (Centrarchidae). It is also known as common sunfish, pond perch, punkie, kivver, sunfish, and sunny. The Pumpkinseed is a small fish with their body shape resembling the seed of a pumpkin, which inspired their name. The ctenoid scales, which are the comb-like scales found on these types of fish, are the most vibrant compared to other freshwater fish. They can range from bright orange or brown to blue or olive green. The belly and breast of Pumpkinseed usually have an orange color. Blue or light green vertical bars cover the sides of the body. Orange spots may cover caudal, anal, and dorsal fins. Pectoral fins can be transparent or amber. The tail fin is slightly forked. 


The typical size is 4 inches but they can grow up to 11 inches. They usually weigh less than one pound. The Pumpkinseed world record comes in at  1 pound and 8 ounces. It was reeled in by Robert Warne while he was fishing on the Honeoye Lake in New York.

Interesting Facts 

Pumpkinseed and Bluegill are very similar in appearance and live in the same habitat and school together. 

They bite very quickly, so it is considered a nuisance by anglers targeting other species of fish. 

The pumpkinseed has shown up in Europe and is considered an invasive species


Pumpkinseed Sunfish are warm-water fish that thrives in temperature between 75 -89 °F. It is a freshwater fish and doesn't show migratory behavior. Once the temperature reaches 63 °F in late spring/early summer, the males build nests at the lake's bottom in colonies of 10-15 nests. Females arrive at the nest, and extremal fertilization occurs. More than one female may use the same nest. The females lay their eggs and then leave. Males guard the eggs and then the hatchlings for about 11 days. 

Diet and Habitat 

This colorful fish loves calm and warm ponds, lakes, small rivers, and pools with abundant vegetation. They love to be near the shore or shallow areas. 

The Pumpkinseed will feed at all water levels from the top to the lake's bottom during daylight hours. Their heaviest feeding time will be in the afternoon. As they are active during the day, they rest at night near the bottom of the lake or in protected areas of rocks and submerged. The Pumpkinseed's diet includes aquatic insects, mosquito larvae, small mollusks, snails and other crustaceans, smaller pumpkinseeds, minnow fry, and worms. 

Fishing Technique - How to Catch Pumpkinseed

Pumpkinseed are not considered essential for commercial or recreational fishing. It is regarded as a forage fish. Different kinds of baits can be used such as minnow, crickets, and mealworms, but worms are hands down the best bait.  

The method to catch them is pole fishing with ultralight 18-foot poles. During hot months, still fishing and baitcasting are useful methods. As they bite quickly and stay close to shore, stick with the simplest lures such as bobber rig and worm with a 1/4 ounce sinker. 

For fly fishing, popping bugs of red, white, black, or yellow color and nymph flies give excellent outcomes. No. 5 or 6 fly rods with spiders or nymphs work the best. The larger fish are a bit offshore, so longer casts are needed to reach them. 


Being the northernmost fish of the sunfish species, the Pumpkinseed's natural range starts from New Brunswick, Canada, and goes down to South Carolina.  They have however been introduced throughout most of the United States and can be found from Washington to Georgia. However, they are still primarily found in their native northeastern United States.