Chicago Sun-Times
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Fish of the Week: Big bluegill (hybrid?)

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Todd Reeves caught a freakish bluegill to earn Fish of the Week honors.


Here's his story:

I have never written to you before, but I read your columns all the time and love fishing. I attached some pictures of a bluegill I caught in a residential pond in Joliet this last Saturday and was wondering how big the state record is for pan fish. I did not not weigh it but it measured out to be 10 and 3/8 inches long and I released it. I did take one of his scales cause my brother said they can test it and tell how big it was but I figured you would know more about it than I would and was wondering your opinion on it.

That is a thick bluegill, almost looking like a hybrid with its width.

Monster bluegills are not often noted around the area of Chicago fishing. This is one.

Darren May caught the Illinois-record bluegill (3 pounds, 8 ounces) from a farm pond in Jasper County on May 10, 1987. Reeves caught a helluva bluegill, but it is not near 3.5 pounds.

All the same, I wish I had caught one like it. I caught an 11-inch bluegill as a kid at camp when I was in my early teens and have never come close to a bluegill that big again.

So I admire Reeves' accomplishment. I think this is only the third bluegill for FOTW, if I counted right.


Plus I just love this photo which shows his daughter running around the pond. Reeves was fishing with his brother and the cousins were runing around and doing things like catching frogs.

That's how you teach the outdoors to kids in a way that sticks.

FOTW tops the Midwest Fishing Report on the outdours page of the Sun-Times each Wednesday. An extended online version appears here, usually by midnight Tuesday.

E-mail FOTW nominations to

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That is a large panfish but it is not a bluegill. It is either a redear, which grows larger than bluegill, or some type of hybrid but it does not have the colorings of a bluegill at all.

That's why I mentioned hybrid. I think it is more likely a hybrid. It doesn't fully match redear either. Help.

Looks like possibly a bluegill x green sunfish hybrid, though the colors don't match perfectly (possibly still in spawning colors?). Might want to try contacting the pond authority or DNR or whoever stocks the pond as they can probably tell you what kind of hybrids have been stocked in there. Hybrid sunfish are typically stocked in ponds because they grow faster than pure bluegills.

Definitely looks like a hybrid, which is not uncommon to find in community ponds. Coloration is similar to gills in ponds I've fished that are on private property and stocked by the owners.

My personal best gill measured nearly 15 inches and weighed in at 2 lb., 15 oz. and was caught on a large streamer while flyfishing for bass at Wolf Lake in Hammond, IN. Wish I'd a had the money to have mine mounted at the time.

Any gill over 12 inches is an awesome gill...eleven inches is still better than what most people ever see in their lifetime. Definitely a great catch either way.

Nice catch! The "mark" for a "trophy" bluegill is +- 1 lb. and/or 10 inches (some consider, as I would, that 8 inchers are trophies)- so you definitely caught a nice fish. I would almost guarantee your fish is a bluegill and not a hybrid as it has quite normal and characteristic coloration. The older and bigger bluegill get, their coloration typically becomes deeper and more vibrant, with every fish being different. It's age?- it was probably 5-7 years old.

FYI- Most state record bluegills were caught in private ponds or small lakes. Ironically, one of the keys to growing big blues is having a healthy bass population. Bluegill are extremely prolific and having a lot of bass to feed on the smaller bluegill population reduces competition and allows the big bluegill to get bigger. It's a good cycle to have- the bass get big from lots of bluegill, and the bluegill get big from lots of bass. This cycle is exemplified quite often in ponds where these two species are the predominant species stocked. Another species of sunfish which is comparable to the bluegill, and coexist well due to slightly different behavior and diet, is the redear sunfish (aka- shellcracker).

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