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Freshwater Fish of Virginia Freshwater Fish Groups Bass Sunfish Catfish Trout Perch Pike Other BASS Striped Bass Moves from tidal bays to fresh water to spawn Seven black lines running lengthwise on its side Largest member of the sea bass family White Bass

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Freshwater Fish of Virginia

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freshwater fish groups
Freshwater Fish Groups
  • Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Catfish
  • Trout
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Other
striped bass
Striped Bass
  • Moves from tidal bays to fresh water to spawn
  • Seven black lines running lengthwise on its side
  • Largest member of the sea bass family
white bass
White Bass
  • Strictly a fresh water species
  • Two separate dorsal fins
  • Stays in schools throughout its life, seldom traveling alone
  • Reaches five pounds; the average is two pounds
largemouth bass
Largemouth Bass
  • Member of the sunfish family
  • Mouth extends to the back edge of the eye
  • Has a horizontal black stripe
  • Greenish above lighter on the sides and white on the belly
  • Averages two to four pounds
smallmouth bass
Smallmouth Bass
  • Member of the sunfish family.
  • Jaw does not extend past the middle of the eye
  • Three dark bars radiate from the eye on the cheek
  • Has vertical stripes
  • Coloration is tented with gold
  • A 4 to 5 pound smallmouth would be considered a ‘trophy.’
redbreast sunfish
Redbreast Sunfish
  • Olive to brownish gray along the back, merging to blue with a golden cast along its sides and a bright orange to yellow underside.
  • Reaches about 8 inches.
green sunfish
Green Sunfish
  • Basically bluish green in color, with faint, alternating blue, brown and brassy gold stripes.
  • Is a stocky, thick fish with a large head and large mouth
redear sunfish
Redear Sunfish
  • Yellow-green or olive, with faint vertical bars and random dark spots.
  • During spawning, the margin of the male’s gill cover flap turns bright red
  • One-pounders not uncommon and often reaching 2 pounds
black crappie
Black Crappie
  • Sides are silvery with irregularly spaced black spots; throat and forepart of belly are dusky slate colored
  • Has either seven or eight spines on the front portion of the dorsal fin
white crappie
White Crappie
  • Has six spines on front portion of dorsal fin
  • Average less than one-half pound
  • Lighter color than the black crappie
  • A large mouthed, robust fish with mottled sides and wavy lines on its cheek.
  • Dark brownish above, with mottled and barred sides, and mottled or spotted fins
  • Seldom gets larger than 8 or 9 inches
  • A deep-bodied, almost round fish
  • Yellow-green, or brassy-olive, to brownish-gold, with a dark brown to black spot on each scale, appearing of rows of spots
  • Reach up to 10 inches in length
  • Dark, olive-green on its back, with mottled sides.
  • Average four to six inches.
  • Cheeks and gill covers marked with alternate worm-shaped bands of blue-green and yellow.
  • Colors are variable
  • Lower parts of its cheek and gill cover are bluish.
  • Its “throat” is yellow on females to bright orange on the male, brighter during spawning.
  • State Record: 4 pounds 12 ounces from a private pond.
flathead catfish
Flathead Catfish
  • Broadly flattened head with lower jaw that project beyond the upper jaw
  • Body is yellowish or cream-colored, with black, darkbrown or olive-brown mottling on back and sides, fading to dirty whiteor yellow.
  • Tail only slightly notched and adipose fin isrelatively large
blue catfish
Blue Catfish
  • Bluish-gray body above, fading to white onsides and belly
  • No spots and a deeply forked tail
  • Smaller blue cats are often confused with channel catfish
  • 30-35 rays on the anal fin with its straight outer margin
channel catfish
Channel Catfish
  • Deeply forked tail
  • Smooth-skinned body is usually spotted
  • Eight barbels, or feelers, four located under the lower jaw, two on topand one at each end of the upper jaw
  • Generally darkbrownish to slate-gray on top, fading to light brownish-gray on the sides
  • 25 to 29 Rays on its anal fin.
white catfish
White Catfish
  • One of the bullhead catfishes
  • Average 8 to 18inches, rarely 20
  • Color is basicallyblue-gray above, fading to gray on its sides with a white underside
brook trout
Brook Trout
  • Only trout native to Virginia
  • Seldom reaches more than one pound
  • Colorful coat of red, gray or yellow spots rimmed in blue
brown trout
Brown Trout
  • First stocked in the Roanoke River in 1958
  • Larger than the Brook Trout
  • Reaching three pounds or more in small Virginia streams
rainbow trout
Rainbow Trout
  • Originally found in Rocky Mountain streams
  • In Virginia they can reach two pounds
  • Sides have a horizontal pink-to-red-or-purple band and is black polka-dotted all over
  • Has two distinct dorsal fins, a spiny-rayed fin forward followed by a separate soft-rayed fin
  • Has a mouthful of sharp canine(dog like) teeth
  • Average weight in Virginia is two to three pounds
yellow perch
Yellow Perch
  • Generally olive-green above, fading down the sides to green or yellow-green, to yellow or golden yellow
  • Dorsal fins have a distinctive dusky blotch
  • Average 6 to 8 inches, but commonly reach 14 to 15 inches and 1-1/2 to 2 pounds
white perch
White Perch
  • Averages one-half pound
  • Silvery gray above fading to a silvery white below with no longitudinal lines
  • Its best identifying marks are its spotted spiny dorsal
  • Very slim build
  • It’s body colors are more of a dusky-brown to yellowish-olive, with large, irregular patches on its side, peppered in between with smaller dark markings and a white underside.
northern pike
Northern Pike
  • A long, lean body
  • Generally olive or dark green above fading to a light-olive or gray-green to yellowish –green then to white on its belly.
  • Strongly toothed jaws have teeth arranged in rows, plus rows of teeth located on its tongue and palate
  • Largest member of the pike family
  • Often known as “Muskie” (or Musky)
  • Olive to dark gray on its back, with grayish to bluish to yellowish sides
  • State Record: 45 pounds from the New River
chain pickerel
Chain Pickerel
  • Named for its chain-like markings on its sides.
  • Has a black vertical mark under its eye
  • Averages 1-1/2 to 3 pounds
  • Native to Asia and a member of the minnow family
  • Brought to America from Germany in 1870
  • Distinguished by its very long dorsal fin and two whisker-like barbells on each side of the mouth
  • Referred to as ancient fishes or living fossils along with the longnose gar
  • Has an extremely long greenish dorsal fin
  • Scales have a distinct black spot edged with yellow or orange at the base of the tail
longnose gar
Longnose Gar
  • Gets its name from its bill-like jaws equiped with strong, sharp teeth
  • Heavy diamond-shaped scales cover its body
works cited
Works Cited
  • Created By Bo Johnson
  • Pictures and text by the Virginia department of game and inland fisheries located at