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Coppernose bluegill--identification and characteristics

A frequently asked question is "How do I identify a coppernose bluegill?"
Here are some photos, and an informative narration on this subject. Bigbluegill member "Ewest" generously assisted with compiling this blog.

Coppernose bluegill have been around for a long time. They are only one of three recognized subspecies of bluegill (lepomis macrochirus). Coppernose (lepomis macrochirus purpurescens) is native to Peninsular of Florida. Coppernose bluegill have 12 soft rays on their anal fin as opposed to 11 soft rays found on the regular bluegill. Coppernose have fewer but wider vertical bars on their sides than do regular (common or native ) bluegill. Coppernose also have orange margins to their fins. Male coppernose has a broad copper band above the eye or forehead and are prominent during spawning season. Reproduction of the Coppernose is about the same as with most all bluegill.

The Coppernose bluegill is known for its colorful markings. The fins of the coppernose have a reddish orange fringe outline with a pencil thin white border. The vertical bars on the sides are more distinct and broader especially in the young. The distinct copper band across the head which is brilliant on the male is the reason for the common name "coppernose".

THE COPPERNOSE BLUEGILL (CNBG) IS ALSO A FLORIDA STRAIN. IT IS EASILY DISTINGUISHED FROM THE NORTHERN BLUEGILL BY ITS COLORATION AND MARKINGS. THE FINS OF THE CNBG ARE REDDISH-ORANGE WITH A THIN WHITE MARGIN. THE TYPICAL VERTICAL BAR PATTERN OF THE BLUEGILL IS PRONOUNCED IN THE COPPERNOSE, AND VERY DISTINCTIVE. ADULT MALES HAVE A BROAD COPPER BAND ACROSS THE HEAD THAT IS THE TRADEMARK OF THE STRAIN.


Here is a photo showing the classic light fin bordering of a male coppernose bluegill. If you look closely you can see the copper band across the forehead.


Now, here's a female coppernose bluegill.


Here's another shot of a male coppernose bluegill. Again, note the beautiful light fin border.


And finally, here's another shot of a male coppernose bluegill, this time with a better angle to observe the copper-colored band.


Bear in mind that if you have any desire to stock coppernose bluegill in your pond, you will need to take into account that your climate needs to be warmer, year around, than standard lepomis macrochirus require.

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Comment by Shawn Anderson on January 28, 2011 at 12:25am
Great looking fish! I had never heard of a coppernose, but again, every time I get on this page I learn something new . Thanks guys for your amazing insight into this sub-species. 
Comment by KEN BROCK THE FISH DENTIST on February 3, 2009 at 2:54pm
I AM INTERESTED IN HAVING THE COPPERNOSE STOCKED IN LAKES THAT I FISH IN SOUTHERN INDIANA. DOES ANYONE OF U EXPERTS THINK THEY WOULD SURVIVE AND PRODUCE?
Comment by EWest on February 1, 2009 at 7:41am
When stocking fish (any type) outside of its immediate range (natural population) the question to ask is not will it survive but is will it achieve its genetic potential. Even if CNBG survived in Ohio they surely would not reach their genetic potential. I think you would be greatly disappointed in the results if they survived. Plus if they did poorly but survived long enough to spawn you would have degraded the genetics of your population by introducing genes that did poorly in cold water.

Here is a pic of a spawning CNBG male. I thought you might like to see how one looks in the water. Note that the chromatophores in the copper nose band appear vividly as white or bright in the water.

[IMG]http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i263/ewestmnw/P5310004.jpg[/IMG]
Comment by Bruce Condello on January 31, 2009 at 5:02pm
Unfortunately I think you're correct, Chris. I wish they'd do well here in Nebraska, but our winters get just a tad too cold for them.
Comment by Chris Armbrust on January 31, 2009 at 4:27pm
So these wouldn't survive in ohio? pretty fish i'll say.
Comment by David Merical on October 9, 2008 at 11:16am
This answered a question I had from earlier today on the FlyAnglersOnline website! A Florida guide had posted a picture of a "bluegill", and I noted that it had very different markings/coloration than the bluegills we have here in Iowa. I suspected a subspecies, and....here's the definitive answer! Well done!!
Comment by Bruce Condello on August 6, 2008 at 11:59am
Thanks, EWest! You're right. There are dozens of excellent bluegill and coppernose bluegill pictures on the Pond Boss forum. Excellent resource.
Comment by EWest on August 6, 2008 at 11:22am
Great job Bruce ! Pond Boss can provide more pics of CNBG for the BB.com site if you like. There is a current thought that the CNBG from Ark (moved there years ago to supply the hatcheries with brood fish) are now a little different as to traits and coloration. They are probably a little more cold tolerant than ones from their native range (Florida and south part of the gulf coast states).

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