Species image (Illustration Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

What it looks like

  • small, very deep-bodied fish
  • wavy, blue-green stripes on sides of head
  • ear flap with orange or red spot
  • unnotched dorsal fin with 10 to 11 spines 
  • 3 anal fin spines
  • small mouth does not extend to below the middle of the eye


  • length: 18-23 centimetres (7-9 inches)
  • weight: 0.2 kilograms (0.4 pounds)
  • Ontario record: 0.5 kilograms (1.0 pounds)

Similar fish

Where it's found

Range of the [pumpkinseed] in Ontario

Species distribution map (modified from Mandrak and Crossman, 1992) 


  • widespread and abundant, north to Lake Temagami
  • use Fish ON-Line, an interactive mapping tool, to find specific lakes and rivers


  • cool to warm waters of lakes
  • slow-moving streams with aquatic vegetation

Angling tips

  • small, easy-to-catch member of the sunfish family
  • easily caught from shore and provide excellent action for children
  • aggressive feeders, take bait readily and fight well on light tackle
  • small fish form large, loose schools in shallow water near weeds, docks, bridges
  • bigger fish are more solitary, occasionally collecting in small groups
  • light line and small hooks work best
  • try dangling live bait from a small bobber, fly-fishing, casting small lures, slow-trolling, drifting

Common baits

  • small plugs, spinners, jigs
  • worms, insects and other live bait
  • add natural bait to an artificial lure to make it more appealing