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Bluegill: 4 Facts About Illinois' Official State Fish

By    |   Thursday, 04 Feb 2016 06:10 PM

Chosen by school children as the state fish of Illinois in 1986, the bluegill is very common fish in the Prairie State's numerous lakes. It is a member of the sunfish family that can be recognized by its "stripy olive to yellow colors and its distinctive black spot behind the gills. ... Bluegills are most abundant in clear lakes with large amounts of aquatic vegetation, but it also occurs in a variety of habitats, such as pools, overflow ponds, oxbows, swamps, and man-made impoundments," according to the Illinois State Museum.

Here are some other facts you might not know about the Illinois state fish.

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1. Carnivores
Bluegills are carnivorous fish. They most enjoy eating aquatic insects and their larvae, but when food is scarce, they will devour smaller fish, crayfish, snails, and even algae.

2. Shallow water nesters
Bluegill sunfish give birth in shallow water nests — built in water that is "less than about 2 feet deep. These nests are shallow, circular depressions and are frequently in areas with gravel bottoms. Often many males build nests in one small area. Females lay eggs in the nests and the males guard the eggs until they hatch," said the Illinois State Museum.

3. Record-setting catch
The bluegill is a smallish fish, growing to an average of 9 inches and weighing about 12 ounces. The largest bluegill ever caught in Illinois weighed 3 pounds, 8 ounces and was captured in a private pond by angler Darren May on May 10, 1987.

4. Tasty
Bluegills are pretty tasty freshwater fish that can be cooked a variety of ways, but the general consensus seems to be they are most delicious when seasoned and fried. This can either be done with batter and a deep fryer or in a pan. Either way you are in for a tasty experience. Also, note that it is best to eat these fish quickly after catching.

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Chosen by school children as the state fish of Illinois in 1986, the bluegill is very common fish in the Prairie State's numerous lakes. It is a member of the sunfish family that can be recognized by its "stripy olive to yellow colors and its distinctive black spot behind the gills."
fishing, illinois, bluegill, state fish, facts
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2016-10-04
Thursday, 04 Feb 2016 06:10 PM
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