Little is known about the distribution, movement, and home ranges of bluegills Lepomis macrochirus in lentic environments. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to evaluate the seasonal and diel differences in movement rates, site fidelity, and home range of bluegills in a shallow, natural Great Plains lake. A total of 78 bluegills (200-273 mm total length) were implanted with radio transmitters in March and May 2000. Of these fish, 10 males and 10 females were randomly selected and located every 2 h during one 24-h period each month from April to September 2000. Bluegill movement peaked during midsummer: however, there was little difference in diel movements, suggesting relatively consistent movement throughout the 24-h period. Home range estimates (which included the 24-h tracking plus an additional six locations from the same fish located once per day for six consecutive days each month) ranged up to 172 ha, probably because only about half of the bluegills exhibited site fidelity during any month sampled. Bluegill movement did not appear to be strongly linked with water temperature, barometric pressure, or wind speed. These results suggest that bluegills move considerable distances and that many roam throughout this 332-ha shallow lake. However, diel patterns were not evident. Sampling bluegills in Great Plains lakes using passive gears (e.g., trap nets) may be most effective during the summer months, when fish are most active. Active sampling (e.g., electrofishing) may be more effective than the use of passive gears in spring and fall, when bluegills are less active.
Additional publication details
Movement, home range, and site fidelity of bluegills in a Great Plains Lake