Let's begin with a clarification of the sunfish family. The following common names are all part of the sunfish family, as are bluegill: Bream, brim, sun perch, sunfish, sunny, cherry bream, shellcracker, Georgia Bream, Goggle-eye, rock bass, branch perch, black perch, warmouth, just to name a few. These common names have gotten thrown around, transported from region to region, stretched, flawed, overused, abused, and mishandled. Let it be known that all the common names listed above represent fish in the sunfish family. Native and Coppernose bluegill are also known as bream, perch, sunny, and sun perch.
Although these are two different sub-species of bluegill, they are difficult to differentiate at a young age, and their biological properties are quite alike. A sub-specie is essentially the result of the same specie having adapted to more than one environment, taking on different physiological adaptations to suit their environments. For example, coppernose and native bluegill are capable of interbreeding and producing viable, sexually active offspring.
Largemouth bass will eat a variety of live fish, but bluegill are particularly important in ponds and small lakes because they reproduce throughout the warm months, achieve a size allowing them long term survival, and exhibit multiple spawning each season. This furnishes a continual supply of different size forage. Bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) spawn when temperatures reach 75ºF and continue until water temperatures cool in the fall. Bluegill mature at 3 inches in length, with females capable of laying between 10,000 and 60,000 eggs per spawn. Young bluegill feed primarily on plankton switching to a diet of insects and other small aquatic life as their size increases. They seldom stray far from shore and prefer structures such as weed beds, fallen timber, etc. Bluegill are a good forage fish for largemouth bass, because they do not compete heavily with largemouth bass for forage. In general they are found in the same habitats as largemouth bass, and therefore are easily located. Bluegill have a very high fecundity so they have the ability to produce relatively large numbers of offspring.
Bluegill can be stocked with largemouth bass, blue or channel catfish, or by themselves. They can reach 1.5-2 lbs in weight, and they taste wonderful. Bluegill will eat a floating fish food except during the cold winter season.
Stocking rate is 800 per acre for largemouth bass or hybrid striper production. Make sure to stock coppernose bluegill along with a top end predator to control their numbers.