Fish Identification Guide

Sunfish Family

Bluegill: Characterized by 5 to 9 vertical bars on the sides and a distinctive black opercular flap with no margin. Notable for a dark spot at the rear of the dorsal fin.

Redear Sunfish: Recognizable by the opercular flap edged with red or orange.

Crappie Variants

Black Crappie: Identified by 7 to 8 dorsal spines and random blotchy patterns along the sides.

White Crappie: Known for its 6 dorsal spines, with black side markings forming vertical bars rather than random spots.

Black Bass Types

Largemouth Bass: Distinguished by an upper jaw that extends beyond the back of the eye.

Smallmouth Bass: Notable for an upper jaw that does not extend beyond the back of the eye.

Spotted Bass: Identified by a red eye and horizontal dark spotted lines on the lower sides. The upper jaw does not extend beyond the back of the eye.

True Bass Varieties

Hybrid Striped Bass: Features two tooth patches on the back of the tongue that are joined, and distinct stripes, with the first stripe below the lateral line running complete to the tail.

White Bass: Characterized by a single tooth patch on the back of the tongue and incomplete stripes below the lateral line.

Striped Bass: Identified by two parallel tooth patches on the back of the tongue and unbroken stripes above the lateral line.

Catfish Characteristics

Blue Catfish: Notable for 30 to 35 anal fin rays and a straight margin on the anal fin. The caudal fin is deeply forked.

Channel Catfish: Features 24 to 29 rays in a rounded anal fin and dark spots on sides when young.

Flathead Catfish: Distinguished by 14 to 17 anal fin rays and a slightly rounded or notched caudal fin.

Perch Family

Yellow Perch: Recognizable by its green back and 6 to 8 darker vertical bars along yellow-green sides.

Sauger: Identified by 3 or 4 saddle-shaped blotches on the back and sides, with a spotted dorsal fin.

Walleye: Distinguished by the absence of spots on the dorsal fin and a dusky spot at the rear of the spiny dorsal fin.

Salmon Species

Chinook (King) Salmon: Teeth set in dark gums, with black spots on the back and both lobes of the square caudal fin.

Coho Salmon: Teeth set in light-colored gums, with black spots on the upper lobe of the slightly forked caudal fin.

Trout Types

Brown Trout: Distinguished by a white mouth and square caudal fin margin with no spots on upper or lower lobes.

Rainbow Trout (Steelhead): Identified by a white mouth and small black spots on back, sides, and fins.

Lake Trout: Notable for a deeply forked caudal fin and light to dark gray body with light spots.

Northern Pike & Muskellunge

Northern Pike: Features an elongated body with a duck bill-shaped, tooth-filled mouth. Its sides range from green to yellow with horizontal spots.

Muskellunge: Known for its elongated body and dark vertical bars on a green or brown background.

Fish Identification Assistance

Caught a fish and unsure about its species? Send a photo to for identification assistance. Visit for further details.

Sign Up for Huntlink!

Huntlink is a free program that will allow us to send you state regulations to your email for the states you hunt in. The benefits of this are:

1. PDF Format - Downloadable

2. Able to be read with or without reception

3. Delivered right to your email with no ads

And much more!


The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.