NJ Freshwater Fish ID

NJ Freshwater Fish Identification

NJ Freshwater Fish ID Guide – When fishing in New Jersey waters, sometimes both new and experienced anglers need to make a NJ Freshwater Fish ID to ensure compliance with New Jersey Freshwater Fishing Regulations. FishinJersey.com’s editors have developed this NJ Freshwater Fish Identification Guide to assist anglers in identifying NJ fish species. No NJ Freshwater Fish Identification Guide contains every freshwater fish and there may be some species that we have overlooked. We will try to update new species as they become available.

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NJ Freshwater Fish

American Eel Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image American Eel
The body is extremely elongated (snakelike), with a very long dorsal fin that is confluent with the anal fin. Pelvic fins are absent and tiny scales are embedded in the skin giving eels a smooth feel. The adult color is a yellow-brown with pale underbelly.
Black Crappie Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image Black Crappie
A deep body with nearly symmetrical dorsal and anal fins and a speckled pattern on the body and fins identify the black crappie.
Bluegill Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image Bluegill
Bluegill have the deep-bodied look of “bream,” with a long dorsal fin and slightly forked tail. A dark ear covering and a blotch at the dorsal fin’s back bottom edge set them apart.
Brook Trout Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image Brook Trout
The brook trout is greenish brown, often iridescent, with light red spots on its sides. It has dark, wavy, worm-like lines on the back and white edges on the fins, including the tail.
Brown Bullhead Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
Brown Bullhead
Chin barbels on browns are pigmented, not whitish as with yellow bullheads. The sides of brown bullheads have a distinct, irregular brownish mottling over a light background. The belly is creamy white. They have square tails.
Brown Trout Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
Brown Trout
The brown trout is golden brown to olive brown with yellowish sides. Its back and sides have dark spots encircled with light yellow or white. Some brown trout also have orange or red spots on their sides.
Carp Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
Carp (Common)
Large, heavy body with arched back, small triangular head tapering to blunt snout; first ray of the dorsal and anal fins stout, serrated spine; small, subterminal and protrusible mouth contains no teeth; two pair of barbels on the upper jaw; body color brassy green on top grading to bronze or gold on sides with yellowish white belly; typically covered with large, round scales
Chain Pickerel Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
Chain Pickerel
Chain pickerel are deep olive-green on the back, shading to a creamy yellow on the belly, with the back and anal fin about the same size and located far back on an elongated body. A distinct black chain-like or interwoven marking on the sides give them their name.
Channel Catfish Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
Channel Catfish
Channel catfish are easy to distinguish by their whisker-like sensory barbels and a forked tail. These catfish have a rounded anal fin and scattered black spots along their back and sides. Males become especially dark during spawning season and develop a thickened pad on their head.
Golden Shiner Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
Golden Shiner
The golden shiner has an elliptical body and a small pointed head. The coloration is a dark olive-green on the back, becoming a golden-silver on the sides. With large adults a deep golden or brassy coloration is prominent. The fins are yellowish with the lower fins turning orange on breading males. They rarely grow larger than 12 inches and are used primarily as a bait for larger species. /td>
Green Sunfish Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
Green Sunfish
The green sunfish has a moderately compressed body but is not as round as other sunfish. It is blueish green with emerald and yellow iridescent flecks and streaks. Its mouth is far larger than other sunfish with an upper jaw that extends back to the middle of the eye. Its pectoral fin is short and rounded, and its ear flap is black with a white to yellow margin. It frequently has a black spot near the end of its dorsal and anal fins.
Hybrid Striped Bass Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
Hybrid Striped Bass
A cross between a male white bass and a female striped bass. Its color is gray to steel blue above, with white-to pale-green sides. Its appearance is very similar to the striped bass, but the hybrid has a deeper body and broken stripes or lines on the sides. The striped bass has stripes that are more distinct and solid.
Largemouth Bass Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
Largemouth Bass
The largemouth bass is the best known and most popular game fish in North America. It is distinguished from other black bass because the upper jaw extends beyond the rear edge of the eye, and the first and second dorsal (back) fins are separated by an obvious deep dip.
Muskellunge Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
A member of the pike family, the muskellunge has an olive-to dark-gray back with a silvery side. Its sides usually have vertical bars or blotches, and its fins have spots or streaks. The muskellunge has 12 to18 small pores underneath the jaw, six to eight on each side. The Northern pike, a close relative of the muskellunge not found in North Carolina, only has 10 pores underneath the jaw. The chain pickerel is sometime mistaken for a small muskellunge, but the pickerel has a black bar beneath the eye and the muskellunge does not.
Northern Pike Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
Northern Pike
The northern pike is an elongated fish. Its dorsal region is bluish-green to gray in color which distinguishes Northern pike from other members of the pike family (chain pickerel, redfin pickerel, and muskellunge). Their sides have irregular rows of yellow or gold bean-shaped spots. They also have fully scaled cheeks The mouth is lined with many sharp canine teeth. The Northern pike is capable of growing more than three feet long and weighing greater than twenty pounds.
Pumpkinseed Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
One of the smaller sunfish, the pumpkinseed is a very colorful, chunky fish with a small mouth. Its cheek area has four to eight wavy lines that are often bright blue. The breast and belly are orange to yellow, with lighter-colored sides in a variety of bright colors. The ear flap is black but has an orange-red spot on the outer margin that is often bordered in white.
Rainbow Trout Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
Rainbow Trout
The rainbow trout is named for the broad, lateral stripe on its sides, which ranges from pink to red. Its back is olive-green, and its belly is whitish with heavy black speckling on all fins and the entire body.
Redfin Pickerel Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
Redfin Pickerel
The redfin pickerel is greenish gray to dark olivebronze on the back, with shading down its sides. Over the sides are wavy or wormy-looking lighter markings that can appear as a series of vertical, irregular bars. The belly is white or yellow-tinted. The redfin’s cheek and opercle are fully scaled, and the black “tear drop” beneath its eye extends backward. The snout is short and broad and the fins are unspotted and reddish, providing its common name. They grow to an average of only 12 inches.
Rock Bass Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
Rock Bass
A member of the sunfish family, the rock bass has a short, robust body with an olive-green top and gold or brassycolored sides. The scales along its sides have a dark spot, often forming a stripedlike appearance. The anal fin has five to seven hard spines, and on adult rock bass, this fin has a dark outline. There is a dark spot on the ear flap, and the cheeks are scaled.
Smallmouth Bass Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
Smallmouth Bass
The smallmouth bass is most often bronze to brownish green with dark vertical bars on its sides. Unlike the largemouth bass, the smallmouth bass has an upper jaw that extends only to the middle of its reddish eyes. Its dorsal fin is not deeply notched. Three distinct dark bars radiate from the eye.
Walleye Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
The walleye is a torpedoshaped fish ranging from dark olive-brown to yellowish gold, with brassy- flecked sides and a dark splotch at the rear of a spiny dorsal fin. It has two separate dorsal fins and the lower lobe of the tail is tipped with white. Its large, glassy eyes reflect light at night.
White Crappie Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
White Crappie
The white crappie has a compressed, deep-silvery body, with shades of green or brown on its back. It has five to 10 dark vertical bars on each side and a whitish belly. It is “hump-backed” with five or six spines in the dorsal fin. The dorsal fin, anal fin and tail contain a combination of dark spots and bands.
Yellow Perch Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
Yellow Perch
The yellow perch is greenish yellow along the back, with darker-colored bands on its sides. It has two separate dorsal fins. The first dorsal fin is spiny, and there is a very sharp edge on the gill covering. The pelvic and anal fins are amber to bright orange. The yellow perch is a small fish, averaging around 7 to 9 inches, but its size varies with location.
White Perch Thumbnail Image - Click for larger image
White Perch
The white perch is a thin, deep-bodied fish with sides that are predominantly silver, but sometimes golden or olive colored. Very similar to the white bass in appearance, the white perch does not have dark lines running the length of the body. The white perch also lacks a tooth patch in the center of the tongue, which distinguishes it from the white bass (one patch) and striped bass (two patches). Its two dorsal fins are separated by a tiny notch. The first dorsal fin has nine spines, and the second has one spine and 12 soft rays. The anal fin has three spines and eight or 10 soft rays.