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New England Outdoors

new england freshwater fish species

 Largemouth Bass

Other Names: Black Bass, Largemouth

Scientific Name: Micropterus Salmoides

Lifespan: 15 years

Estimated Size: 18-20 inches

Largemouths are dark olive green on the back with light green sides shading to a white belly. A dark mottled band extends along the sides. The upper part of the mouth extends past the eye. Smallmouth bass are similar in appearance, but the upper jaw ends below the eye

General Information: Generally found in slow moving water. This includes creeks, streams, ponds and lakes. Largemouth Bass eat almost any type of creature that can fit in its mouth. Such prey includes frogs, snails and other fish

 Smallmouth Bass

Other Names: Smallie, Smallmouth Black Bass, Black Bass, Brown Bass, Green Bass

Scientific Name: Micropterus Dolornieu

Identification: Bass are members of the sunfish family. The upper jaw of smallmouth bass does not extend beyond the back of the eye. The notch between the spiny and the soft-rayed section of the dorsal fin is not deep

General Information: Found in clearer water than the largemouth, especially streams, rivers, and the rocky areas and stumps and also sandy bottoms of lakes and reservoirs. The smallmouth prefers cooler water temperatures than its cousin the largemouth bass, and may be found in both still and moving water.

 Black Crappie

Other Names: Calico Bass, Crappies, Specks, White Perch, Papermouth, Slabs

Scientific Name: Pomoxis Nigromaculatus

Identification: Closely resembling bass and sunfish species, which have 10-12 dorsal fin spines, crappies possess 6-8 dorsal fin spines. Body form is very deep and narrow (laterally compressed). Coloration is silvery-olive to golden brown, with an irregular mosaic of dark black blotches.

General Information: Crappie feed on small minnows and insects. The best baits for them are small minnows and jigs. Crappie make beds in shallow water in the spring when the water temperatures reach the mid to upper sixties. The black crappie tends to prefer clearer water than the white crappie does. The breeding season varies by location, due to the species’ great range; breeding temperature is 58-68 degrees and spawning occurs between April and June. Spawning occurs in a nest built by the male, who guards the eggs and young.

 Pumpkinseed Sunfish

Other Names: Pumpkinseed, Common Sunfish, Punky

Scientific Name: Lepornis Gibbosus

Identification: The pumpkinseed is a very deep-bodied fish, almost disclike, with several spines in the dorsal fin. The lateral view varies from golden brown to olive on top to irregular, wavy, interconnecting blue-green lines in the middle, to bronze or red-orange on the ventral surface. The side of head and body have blue, emerald, or green reflections. The opercle, or gill-cover, is mostly black with a trailing tip that is black and rimmed with a small halfmoon of bright red.

General Information: Size is typically between 6 and 10 inches. Pumpkinseeds prefer shallow water with some weed cover. They are often typical of ponds and small lakes, preferring water temperatures of 39–72 degrees. They are active during the day and rest near the bottom at night. Pumpkinseeds feed all day and can be caught with live bait or with small lures. They actively fight the line as they are reeled in.

 Yellow Perch

Other Names: Perch, Lake Perch, American Perch

Scientific Name: Perca Flavescens

Identification: The top of the head and back is bright green to olive in color; sides are yellowish-green to golden yellow with 6 to 8 dark vertical bands; belly area ranges from yellow to white; pectoral, pelvic and anal fins vary in color from pale yellow to bright orange.

General Information: Yellow perch normally range from 6 to 12 inches in length and weigh from 1/4 to 1 pound. Larger yellow perch, up to 15 inches and 1.6 pounds. Spawning occurs at the end of April or beginning of May, depositing 10,000 to 40,000 eggs upon weeds, or the branches of trees or shrubs that have become immersed in the water.

 White Perch

Other Names: Perch, Silver Perch

Scientific Name: Morone Americana

Identification: The white perch is a spiny-finned fish with large, easily seen scales. The fish is dark gray-green on the back and upper sides and the color gradually changes to silver on the sides below the lateral line to white on the belly. In clear waters, the white perch exhibits a bluish tint on the lower jaw.

General Information: Size can vary greatly according to the type of habitat and the density of the perch population. A 6-year old perch can be anywhere from 6 to 12 inches long. The average 8 to 10 inch perch weighs about 0.45 pounds and is about 4 years old. As for fishing, these fish put up a great fight for their size. They can be caught with blood worms, on small hooks, on double rigs. White perch also have a hard scaley body that along with their sharp fins protects them from predators.


Other Names: Musky, Maskinonge

Scientific Name: Esox Masquinongy

Identification: Muskellunge are long, slender fish with dark vertical bars on a background ranging from light green to light brown. They have soft-rayed fins, with the dorsal fin located just in front of the tail. Their large mouths, full of sharp teeth, leave no doubt as to their predatory nature. Muskies can be distinguished from northern pike by the presence of 7 to 11 sensory pores on the underside of each jaw (pike have only 5), and by cheeks and gill covers scaled only on the upper half (the cheeks of pike are fully scaled).

General Information: Anglers seek large muskies as trophies or for sport. The fish attain impressive swimming speeds but are not particularly maneuverable. The highest speed runs are usually fairly short, but they can be quite intense. Muskies are known for their strength and for their tendency to leap from the water in stunning acrobatic displays. A challenging fish to catch, the muskie has been called "the fish of ten thousand casts." Anglers tend to use smaller lures in spring or during cold front conditions and larger lures in fall or the heat of summer. The average lure is 20–30 cm (6–10 inches) long but longer lures of 35–65 cm (12–24 inches) are not uncommon in the musky angler's arsenal. Anglers are strongly encouraged to practice catch and release when fishing for muskellunge.

 Northern Pike

Other Names: Pike, Northerns

Scientific Name: Esox Lucius

Identification: Scales are present on the upper half of the gill cover, but are absent on the lower half. The cheek area (located just forward of the gill plate), is fully scaled. Pike usually have five pairs of sensory pores along the underside of the lower jaw. The cheeks and gill covers of chain pickerel are fully scaled, and generally only four pairs of sensor pores are present on the lower jaw. The pattern of markings is typically very different on adult and juvenile pike. Juvenile pike possess wavy, white to yellow vertical bars. Adults have shorter markings arranged in a more horizontal configuration. Pike can hybridize with chain pickerel, and the resulting hybrid may possess markings common to either or both species.

General Information: Pike are found in sluggish streams and shallow, weedy places in lakes, as well as in cold, clear, rocky waters. Pike are typical ambush predators; they lie in wait for prey, holding perfectly still for long periods and then exhibit remarkable acceleration as they strike. The fish has a distinctive habit of catching its prey sideways in the mouth, killing or immobilising it with its sharp teeth, and then turning the prey headfirst to swallow it. It eats mainly fish, but on occasion water voles and ducklings have also been known to fall prey to pike. Pike will aggressively strike at any fish in the vicinity, even at other pike.


Other Names: Sawbelly

Scientific Name: Alosa Pseudoharengus

Identification: Alewives are predominantly silver, except for a grayish green back. There is also a single black spot just behind the head at eye level. The common name "sawbelly" originates from the very distinctive overlapping scales along the belly that creates a saw-like keel.

General Information: Alewives are important to the ecology of freshwater, estuarine, and marine environments. They provide an alternative prey item for osprey, eagles, great blue heron, loons and other fish eating birds at the same time juvenile Atlantic salmon are migrating downriver. Alewives provide cover for upstream migrating adult salmon that may be preyed on by eagles or osprey, and for young salmon in the estuaries and open ocean that might be captured by seals. It is important to understand that alewives tie our ocean, rivers and lakes together, providing vital nutrients and forage needed to make healthy watersheds. Between and within those various habitats, everything eats alewives: striped bass, bluefish, tuna, cod, haddock, halibut, American eel, brook trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout, landlocked salmon, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, pickerel, pike, white and yellow perch, seabirds, bald eagle, osprey, great blue heron, gulls, terns, cormorants, seals, whales, otter, mink, fox, raccoon, skunk, weasel, fisher, and turtles.

 Brown Bullhead

Other Names: Bullhead, Hornpout, Catfish

Scientific Name: Ameiurus Nebulosus

Identification: As the name implies, the brown bullhead is dark brown to olive green on the back, with mottled sides, and a creamy white belly. Individuals having white patches on their sides and back are common in some Maine waters. Brown bullheads have a thick rounded body, a broad, somewhat flattened head with a distinctive set of "whiskers' around the mouth called barbels. The dorsal and pectoral fins have sharp saw tooth spines at their base that can be locked in an erect position. The caudal fin is square and there is a pronounced adipose fin. They have no scales on their skin.

General Information: The brown bullhead thrives in a variety of habitats, including lakes and ponds with low oxygen and/or muddy conditions. In many areas of the U.S., Brown Bullheads are opportunistic bottom feeders. They eat insects, leeches, snails, fish, clams, and many plants. They are also known to eat corn, which can be used as bait. Similar to other catfish, they spawn only after the temperature of the water has reached 80 degrees F (cooler in the northern US) in June and July. When caught in very clear water when the flesh is firm and reddish to pinkish, the hornpout is quite edible and delicious. Nevertheless, its genial cousins such as the channel catfish and the blue catfish are better known for their consumption qualities. Hornpout are not commonly eaten nor are they sought by anglers and usually caught while pursuing other fishes.

 Landlocked Salmon

Other Names: Sebago Salmon, Quananiche

Scientific Name: Salmo Salar

Identification: Adults are generally silvery with a slightly forked tail and small X-shaped markings on the back and upper sides. Juvenile salmon have a dark red spot between each pair of parr marks. Mature males develop a "kype", or hooked jaw, during the spawning season.
Landlocked salmon are a freshwater form of the sea-run Atlantic salmon.

General Information: The landlocked salmon spawns between mid October and the end of November. Migration will take place between the lakes and the in flowing rivers. The female lanklocked salmon will dig a redd or nest in wind-rippled shallows where the bottom is comprised of clean gravel. The landlocked Salmon fry feed on small aquatic insects and they will remain in the river of ther birth for up to two years. At which time they will migrate back into the lakes where they begin to feed on small food fish.

 Brown Trout

Other Names: German Brown Trout, Brownie, Loch Leven Trout, Saibling

Scientific Name: Salmo Trutta

Identification: Usually coloration is light brown or tawny with pronounced black spots on the back, sides and head. Spots are often surrounded with reddish halo, along with reddish spots on the sides. Color is highly variable and browns are occasionally confused with landlocked salmon.

General Information: Young brown trout feed on insects and other invertebrates such as shrimp, corixa, caddis, stonefly, mayfly, etc. Both larvae and adults are taken and the fish will eat whatever local insect life is abundant at the time. Larger fish are active predators of fish including young brown trout, suckers, sculpin, shad, whitefish and rainbow trout. Larger brown trout will also feed on small terrestrial animals that fall into the water such as baby birds falling from overhanging nests, or even swimming mice/voles. Brown trout sometimes do not actively feed until the late afternoon or early evening but when the weather is cool they will feed during the day as well. The largest browns feed under cover of drakness. Brown trout can be caught with artificial flies, jigs, plastic worm imitations, spinners and other lures. Dead and live bait also work, but their use is banned in many trout waters due in part to ethical concerns with fish taking the bait deeply and being mortally injured; and therefore dying even if they are able to escape the fisherman or are released. The use of bait also encourages litter in the form of discarded bait and containers. Some anglers also catch and kill a lot of small fish to use as bait, or introduce alien species to a body of water through the careless use of live bait. And the use of bait is associated with the use of chemical additives or 'scents' with some anglers making their own with all manner of chemicals including oils, borax and even things like WD-40. This has potentially adverse impacts on the fishery and the wider food web.


 American Eel

Other Names: Common Eel, Freshwater Eel

Scientific Name: Anguilla Rostrata

Identification: Adult females may reach a size of up to 6 feet, but normally attain a length between 2 to 3-1/2 feet in length. Males do not attain the large size of females, usually growing to 1-1/2 to 2 feet in length. Recent research has shown that most all eels over 16 inches long are females, and most eels under 16 inches are males. A very characteristic snake-like body sets the eel apart from all other Maine fish. Eels are distinguished by true jaws, pectoral but no pelvic fins, and a thick skin with a heavy slime layer. Coloration is olive-green to brown on the back, with yellow-green on the sides and gray-white below. As sexually mature adults leave freshwater to go to the ocean to spawn, eels transform to "silver eels", being black above and silver below.

General Information: American eels are economically very important to the East Coast and rivers where they travel. They are caught by fishermen and sold, eaten, or kept as pets. Eels help the Atlantic coast ecosystem by eating dead fish, invertebrates, carrion, insects, and if hungry enough, they will cannibalize each other. Although many anglers are put off by the snake-like appearance of these catadromous fish, eels are in fact exceptionally good fish. They are usually caught by anglers fishing for something else. The world record weight for the American eel is 9.25 pounds.

 Redbreast Sunfish

Other Names: Yellowbelly Sunfish, Longear Sunfish

Scientific Name: Lepomis Auritus

Identification: The redbreast sunfish is very deep-bodied and strongly compressed laterally. The opercle, or gill cover, is long and black with no colored border. The body is usually golden brown to olive, with the dorsal surface darker. Sides are lighter in color with small reddish spots, vague blue streaks, and a yellow to orange-red breast.

General Information: The species prefers vegetated and rocky pools and lake margins for its habitat. Its diet can include insects, snails, and other small invertebrates. Redbreast sunfish are usually caught with live bait such as nightcrawlers, crickets, grasshoppers, waxworms, or mealworms. They can also be caught using small lures or flies. Most anglers use light spinning tackle to catch redbreast sunfish

 Lake Whitefish

Other Names: Whitefish

Scientific Name: Coregonus clupeaformis

Identification: Whitefish are normally 14-20 inches long and weigh 1-3 pounds, but can reach lengths of 25 inches and over 6 pounds. A number of lakes contain populations of "dwarf" size fish where mature adult whitefish attain lengths of only 6-8 inches

General Information: Their colouration is olive-green to blue on the back, with silvery sides. They have a small mouth below a rounded snout, and a deeply forked tail. On average, they reach 18". They are found in freshwater lakes where they prefer deep, cool water. Lake whitefish spawn from September through January in water two to four metres in depth. Primarily bottom feeders, lake whitefish eat crustaceans, snails, insects and other small aquatic organisms.


Other Names: Brismark, Brosmius, Torsk, Moonfish

Scientific Name: Brosme brosme

Identification: It is easily distinguished at a glance from other cod-like fish as it has only one dorsal fin. Also characteristic is the nature of the dorsal, caudal, and anal fins, they are continuous at the base but separated by very deep notches so that they are obviously distinct.

General Information: It is normally found in water deeper than sixty feet (20 m), and practically always is taken over rough bottoms where rocks, ledges, or gravel are common. Good fishing areas are usually much more limited than is the case with
cod, haddock, or pollock. It is an offshore fish and rarely is one taken in a harbor. It spawns in the spring and summer, usually between April and early July. A medium sized female has been known to produce more than two million buoyant eggs. The young live near the surface until they are about 2 inches (5 cm) long, and then seek out rocky ocean floors in deep water.


Other Names: Dog Fish

Scientific Name: Amia calva

Identification: Amia is an easily recognized fish. It has a single continuous dorsal fin that runs from the mid-body almost to the tail. Amia's tail has a single lobe and appears to be nearly circular. There is frequently a black spot at the base of the tail near the dorsal edge. Amia has a rather large head with two barbels projecting anteriorly from its nose. Unlike most of the other fish, Amia's swim bladder functions much like a lung, allowing this fish to gulp air when dissolved oxygen levels become dangerously low in the weed beds where it lives

General Information: Bowfins seem to prefer slow, sluggish backwaters where they feed on other fishes and invertebrates. In the spring, they breed in weed beds. Males build circular nests from 15 in to about 3 ft in diameter. Unlike nests of sunfish or bass where the male clears a circular depression in the sand, Amia males often build nests in fibrous root mats, clearing away stems and leaves. One male may breed with two or three females. After breeding he continues to guard the nest until the young hatch eight to ten days after deposition. Baby Amia swim in schools and are protected by the male. They retain this schooling behavior until they are about 4 in long.


Other Names: European Carp, Common Carp, German Carp, Asian Carp, Chinese Carp, Edible Carp, Great Carp

Scientific Name: Cyprinus carpio

Identification: Stocky fish, with a moderate sized head and a triangular, scaleless, blunt snout. Moderate sized mouth, with no teeth on the jaws, the upper jaw protrudes slightly. Usually four barbels or whiskers present; two long, one at each corner of the mouth, two short, one at each end of the upper lip. Large, thick scales. Strong, saw-edged spine at the front of the dorsal fin. Olive-green to golden upper body, but there are many colour variations including black. Paler sides and usually a silvery-yellow belly. Fins are opaque, dark, usually with reddish edges.

General Information: All types of water bodies, being able to survive a wide range of water temperatures (5-32°C), very low oxygen levels, and clear to very dirty water. Usually most abundant in still or slow flowing water. Can survive in water quality situations too poor to support most other fish species, and can survive for several hours out of water in damp conditions.

 Brook Trout

Other Names: Eastern Brook Trout

Scientific Name: Salvelinus fontinalis

Identification: green to brown basic colouration with a distinctive marbled pattern (called vermiculations) of lighter shades across the flanks and back and extending at least to the dorsal fin, and often to the tail. There is a distinctive sprinkling of red dots, surrounded by blue haloes, along the flank. The belly and lower fins are reddish in color, the latter with white leading edges. Often the belly, particularly of the males, becomes very red or orange when the fish are spawning

General Information: The brook trout is native to small streams, creeks, lakes, and spring ponds. Some brook trout are anadromous. It is native to a wide area of eastern North America but increasingly confined to higher elevations southward in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia, Canada from the Hudson Bay basin east, the Great Lake-Saint Lawrence system, and the upper Mississippi River drainage as far west as eastern Iowa

 Horned Pout

Other Names: Mud Pout, Mud Cat

Scientific Name: Ameiurus nebulosus

Identification: When caught in very clear water when the flesh is firm and reddish to pinkish, the hornpout is quite edible and delicious

General Information: The brown bullhead thrives in a variety of habitats, including lakes and ponds with low oxygen and/or muddy conditions. In many areas of the United States, Brown Bullheads are opportunistic bottom feeders. They eat insects, leeches, snails, fish, clams, and many plants. They are also known to eat corn, which can be used as bait. Similar to other catfish, they spawn only after the temperature of the water has reached 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 °C) (cooler in the northern US) in June and July


Other Names: Federation Pike, Southern Pike and Jack Fish

Scientific Name: Esox niger

Identification: The chain pickerel has a distinctive dark chain-like pattern on its greenish sides. Its body outline resembles that of the
northern pike. May reach up to 30 inches only on rare occasions. The opercles and cheeks of the fish are entirely scaled. The average size for chain pickerel, however, is 24 inches and 3 pounds. (The average chain pickerel caught by fishermen is under 2 pounds). The world record is 9 pounds, 6 ounces

General Information: The chain pickerel is a popular
sport fish. It is an energetic fighter when hooked. Anglers have success with live minnows, spinnerbaits, spoons, plugs, and flies, usually tied with some kind of feather or bucktail material. If the angler intends to release a fish, it is advisable use pliers to flatten the barbs on the lure's hooks. Chain pickerel can swallow an entire lure, so it will be much easier to free a deeply-hooked fish and get it back into the water as soon as possible. Practically any bass lure can be effective for pickerel, although like most pikes they seem to be particularly susceptible to flashy lures which imitate small forage fish. Dragging a plastic worm, lizard, frog, or other soft imitation can also be extremely effective. A steel leader is necessary for sharp-toothed and active fish sizing two to three pounds. The angler would also do well to use 12 to 17-lb. test line on an open-face spinning reel. Methods are similar to those for bass such as dragging a lure through weeds in shallow water and jerking it side-to-side to give it the look of injured prey. Chain pickerel are voracious and opportunistic feeders and will attack most any fodder that moves into their range of vision.

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