A bluegill is an edible North American freshwater fish of the sunfish family, with a deep body and bluish cheeks and gill covers. It is popular with anglers. The bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) is a species of freshwater fish sometimes referred to as bream, brim, or copper nose. It is a member of the sunfish family Centrarchidae of the order Perciformes. Lepomis, in Greek, means "scaled gill cover" and macrochirus means large hand, which may be a reference to its body shape. A defining characteristic of the bluegill is the bright blue edging visible on its gill rakers.
Bluegills are popular panfish, caught with live bait such as worms or crickets, grasshoppers, flies, pieces of corn, small crankbaits, spinners, American cheese pushed around a hook, maggots, small frogs, bread, or even a bare hook. They mostly bite on vibrant colors like orange, yellow, green, or red, chiefly at dawn and dusk. They are noted for seeking out underwater vegetation for cover; their natural diet consists largely of small invertebrates and very small fish. The bluegill itself is also occasionally used as bait for larger game fish species, such as blue catfish, flathead catfish and largemouth bass.
Fishermen are sometimes able to use polarized sunglasses to see through water and find bluegills' spawning beds. Bluegill have a rather bold character; many have no fear of humans, eating food dropped into the water, and a population in Canada's Lake Scugog will even allow themselves to be stroked by human observers. Because of their size and the method of cooking them, bluegills are often called panfish.
Bluegills play an important role in pond and lake management to keep crustacean and insect populations low, as a single bluegill population may eat up to six times its own weight in just one summer.
The bluegill is the state fish of Illinois.