The bluegill is one of the most widespread and popular sportfishes in the United States. Populations of bluegill occur throughout most of the eastern North America from southern Canada to northern Mexico. Bluegill have been widely stocked and introduced outside of their native ranges because of their popularity as sportfish. They are ubiquitous and survive in various habitats including lakes, ponds, reservoirs, rivers, and streams. In addition, they often enter estuaries with salinities as high as 10ppt. Maximum weight is approximately 3-4 pounds. Bluegill are easily identified with the presence of 8-11 vertical bars, a dark spot at the posterior base of the dorsal fin, a yellow or orange colored venter, and a blue or green background coloration along the side of the body.
The largemouth bass is the one of the most popular sportfishes in the world. It occurs in all major drainage basins in Louisiana, and it is widespread throughout the eastern United States. The largemouth bass has also been introduced throughout the United States and the world. It occurs in lakes, rivers, and streams, and is most common in pooled habitats with vegetation or woody debris. The largemouth bass is a top predator in most freshwater environments that feeds on other fishes, as well as crayfish. They have two dorsal fins with a deep notch between the fins. The upper jaw is large and extends beyond the rear margin of the eye. General body coloration is green-olive-brown on the upper portion of the body to a lighter coloration below, as well as lateral stripe breaks into blotches near the caudal fin. It is known to grow to more than 20 pounds.
The Rio Grande cichlid is a warm-water species native to Texas and Mexico. It was introduced into Lake Pontchartrain sometime prior to 1996 when it was first discovered in the eastern portion of the lake. Since then, it has expanded its range along the southshore of Lake Pontchartrain and is common in the canals in Metairie and Kenner. This species is very common in the aquarium trade,likely due to itsintroduction into the basin. It is an aggressive species particularly when males guard territories, but the impact of the Rio Grande cichlid on the native fish fauna of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin has not been studied. The Rio Grande cichlidappears similar to native sunfishes (bluegill, spotted sunfish), but is easily identified by the presence of 4-6 dark blotches and white to blue speckling on the side of the body, an interrupted lateral line, and a one nostril on each side of the snout.
The speckled darter is a spectacularly colored species. During the spring months, males obtain bright coloration, which they flaunt to attract female speckled darters for reproduction. There are nearly 200 species of darters in North America, and they reach their greatest diversity in the southeastern United States. They are members of the perch family and are closely related to yellow perch, sauger, and walleye. Overall, darters are an interesting group of fishes because most species completely lack or possess an extremely reduced swimbladder. As a result, they live on the bottom of streams and “dart” from place to place. Speckled darters occupy freshwater streams and rivers in the Lake Pontchartrain Basin. They are small in size (less than 2. 5 inches in length), typically live 2-3 years, and eat small aquatic insects. Darters, including speckled darters, are excellent indicators of environmental quality and are not typically present in degraded habitats.
Redfish or red drum is a common sportfish in Louisiana. The most obvious characteristics distinguishing redfish from other species is their reddish-bronze coloration and the occurrence of a large dark spot near the caudal fin; however, some individuals possess additional spots. Estuaries and bays represent nursery areas for juvenile and young redfish (less than 3 years old). When redfish reach 3-4 years of age, they migrate to near shore shelf areas of the Gulf of Mexico. Redfish are known to surpass40 pounds. They are closely related to other common drum/croaker species in Louisiana including black drum, speckled trout, Atlantic croaker, and freshwater drum.