Warmouth (Lepomis gulosus)

Warmouth (Lepomis gulosus)

The warmouth is a member of the Centrarchidae family of sunfish and has white, flaky flesh.


The warmouth has a deep, stout body and is olive brown above and cream to bright yellow below, often with an overall purple luster and a dark brown chain like mottling on the back and the upper sides. Dark, red brown lines extend from the back of each eye.

On a breeding male, there is a red orange spot on the yellow edge of each short ear flap, and there are dark brown spots and wavy bands on the fins. The warmouth has a large mouth and a patch of teeth on the tongue, and the upper jaw extends under or past the pupils of the eyes. It also has short, rounded pectoral fins and stiff rear edges on its gill covers.


The warmouth can reach a weight of 1 pound and a length of 12 inches. It is capable of living for 6 to 8 years. The all-tackle world record is a 2-pound, 7-ounce fish taken in Florida in 1985.

Spawning behavior

Warmouth begin spawning from April through August when they are 3 to 4 inches long and from 1 to 3 years old. Spawning peaks in early June, when waters warm to about 70°F. The male builds a shallow, bowl-shaped nest in water less than 5 feet deep, often in the company of others, so that a small colony of nests is formed. Preferred nesting sites are in a sand or a rubble bottom with a thin covering of silt, near patches of lily pads, cattails, and grasses, or at the base of trees standing in shallow water.


Warmouth feed on invertebrates, small sunfish, darters, mosquitofish, crayfish, snails, freshwater shrimp, dragonflies, and other insects.

Other Names

goggle-eye, openmouth, perch.


Originally found in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins from western Pennsylvania to Minnesota and south to the Gulf of Mexico, warmouth occur in Atlantic and Gulf drainages from the Rappahannock River, Virginia, to the Rio Grande in Texas and New Mexico. They are abundant in lowland areas and less common in the uplands, and they have been introduced in many places, including the lower Colorado River drainage, where they are common.


Warmouth inhabit relatively shallow, vegetated, slow-flowing, mud-bottom creeks, ponds, lakes, swamps, and reservoirs. They are often found around weedbeds, snags, hollow trees, or stumps, and under the banks of streams and ponds.