Hybrid Bluegill

 

Big Hybrid Bluegill

MD DNR

What are Hybrid Bluegill?

Hybrid Bluegills are a cross between purebred bluegills and other members of the sunfish family. The most common hybrid bluegill is a cross of a female green sunfish and a male bluegill. This hybrid bluegill will have the general shape of a bluegill but will have more of a spotted scale pattern on the gill plate and body, whereas a traditional bluegill has a more distinct set of stripes. Purebred bluegills have more of a distinct red patch on their throat. The hybrid bluegill’s mouth is much larger than a regular bluegill as well.

 

Denton Taylor via flickr

Note the large mouth size. Photo: Denton Taylor via flickr

Pond Stocking Hybrid Bluegills

The bluegill hybrid species (bluegill/green sunfish) is common in pond stocking. This is due to their notoriously aggressive nature and large size. Their tremendous appetite allows them to grow extraordinary fast. Hybrid bluegills can grow at rates of ½ lbs or larger per year. This creates an amazing and enjoyable fishing experience.  Despite the large size and aggressiveness of the fish, there are some downsides to stocking hybrid bluegills. The biggest one being reproduction limitations. Offspring of hybrid bluegills will be extremely skewed towards males. About 9 out of 10 bluegill hybrid offspring will be male. This means re-stocking and monitoring of fish numbers. Additionally, hybrid bluegill species will compete directly with largemouth bass for food and habitat.

Other Hybrid Bluegill Species

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, over 20 different combinations of hybrid sunfish have been found in natural environments. A study done by the Illinois Natural History Survey was able to produce 12 combinations of red-ear sunfish, bluegill, green sunfish and warmouth hybrids. The results showed that while these combinations are possible, environmental factors play a large part in determining hybrid success. The study also concluded that hybrid species are not sterile and can produce offspring.

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