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North Carolina

Fishing

Fishing

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Fish Identification

Bass Identification Chart

* Largemouth bass X Alabama bass and smallmouth bass X Alabama bass hybrids may have a small patch of teeth on the tongue.

Additional information on these and other species can be found at ncwildlife.org/fishing

Largemouth Bass

Found statewide

Smallmouth Bass

Found west of I-77 & in the Uwharrie and Dan rivers

Smallmouth Bass

Spotted Bass

Found west of I-77 & Cape Fear River

Spotted Bass

Alabama Bass (Invasive)

Found statewide

Alabama Bass (invasive)

Morone Identification Chart

Striped Bass

Striped Bass

Bodie Bass (striped bass hybrid)

Bodie Bass

White Bass

White Bass

White Perch

White Perch

Species Identification Chart

White Crappie

  • 5–6 dorsal spines
  • 5–10 dark vertical bars on each side
  • Best populations found in Piedmont reservoirs and rivers
    White Crappie

Black Crappie

  • 7–8 dorsal spines
  • Many dark spots on sides and fins
  • Common in large rivers in Coastal Plain, clear ponds, natural lakes and reservoirs
    Black Crappie

Bluegill

  • Ear flap entirely black
  • Pattern of vertical bars on sides
  • Most common sunfish in state
    Bluegill

Pumpkinseed

  • 4–8 wavy lines, often bright blue, on cheek
  • Ear flap black with orange-red spot
    Pumpkinseed

Redbreast Sunfish

  • Bluish streaks on cheeks and around eyes
  • Long, narrow ear flap entirely black
    Redbreast Sunfish

Redear Sunfish

  • Commonly called shellcracker
  • Red or orange edge along ear flap
  • No blue lines along cheeks
    Redear Sunfish

Roanoke Bass

  • Similar shape as rock bass, but is dark olive-green to olive brown
  • No scales on cheek
  • Only found in Dan, Deep, Neuse, Tar, & Uwharrie rivers
    Roanoke Bass

Rock Bass

  • Olive-green top and gold or brassy-colored sides
  • Scales on sides have dark spots, forming striped-like appearance
  • Unlike Roanoke bass, have scales on cheeks and dark spot near ear flap
    Rock Bass

Warmouth

  • Similar in appearance to rock bass, but has large mouth, similar to bass
  • Anal fin has three spines compared to six of rock bass
  • Three or four stripes radiate from eyes across to cheek and gill cover
    Warmouth

Brown Trout

  • Golden brown to olive with yellowish sides
  • Dark spots circled with light yellow or white on back and sides
  • Some fish also have orange or red spots on sides
  • Reclusive fish, often hanging out near fallen trees and undercut banks
    Brown Trout

Rainbow Trout

  • Broad lateral stripe, pinkish to red, on sides
  • Heavy black speckling on entire body
  • Prefer faster currents, such as riffles and swift runs
    Rainbow Trout

Brook Trout

  • Sometimes called speckled trout
  • Greenish brown with light red spots on sides
  • Dark, worm-like lines on back
  • White edges on fins, including tail
  • Only native trout
    Brook Trout

Yellow Perch

  • Greenish-yellow along back with dark bands on sides
  • Two separate dorsal fins
  • Very sharp edge on gill covering
    Yellow Perch

Walleye

  • Largest member of perch family
  • Found in streams and rivers, but prefer lake environments
  • Normally found in depths of 20–60 feet
    Walleye

Muskellunge

  • Member of pike family
  • Sides usually have vertical bars or blotches and fins have spots or streaks
  • Has 12–18 small pores underneath the jaw
  • Prefers cool rivers and lakes with plentiful woody debris, vegetation and rocky habitat
    Muskellunge

Chain Pickerel

  • Close relative of muskellunge
  • Named for chain-like pattern on sides
  • Black bar beneath eyes distinguishes it from small muskellunge
    Chain Pickerel

Blue Catfish (Invasive east of Continental Divide)

  • Anal fin has straight outer edge and 30–36 rays
  • Common in large rivers and often favor faster currents than other catfish
  • Because of competition with other species (striped bass) for prey, should not be moved from one waterbody to another
    Blue Catfish (invasive east of continental divide)

Bullhead Catfish

  • Five species of bullhead exist in North Carolina—brown (pictured), yellow, black, flat and snail
    Bullhead Catfish

Channel Catfish

  • Deeply forked tail with black spots on back and sides
  • Anal fin is round with 24–29 rays
  • Highly adaptable, living in ponds, streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs
    Channel Catfish

Flathead Catfish (Invasive east of Continental Divide)

  • Broad, flat head with lower jaw protruding beyond upper jaw
  • Should not be moved from one waterbody to another
  • Feeds primarily on live fish and has been associated with declines of several native fish species
    Flathead Catfish (invasive east of continental divide)

White Catfish

  • Blue-gray above, fading to gray on sides with white belly
  • Distinguished from channel catfish by much wider head and lack of black spots on sides
  • Aggressive feeders and feed more during daylight than other catfish
    White Catfish