Bluegills are popular panfish, caught with live bait such as worms or crickets, grasshoppers, flies, pieces of corn, small crankbaits, spinners, American cheese pushed around a hook, maggots, small frogs, bread, or even a bare hook. They mostly bite on vibrant colors like orange, yellow, green, or red, chiefly at dawn and dusk. They are noted for seeking out underwater vegetation for cover; their natural diet consists largely of small invertebrates and very small fish. The bluegill itself is also occasionally used as bait for larger game fish species, such as blue catfish, flathead catfish and largemouth bass.
Crappies are highly regarded game fishes and are often considered to be among the best-tasting freshwater fish. Because of their diverse diets, crappies may be caught in many ways, including casting light jigs, trolling with minnows or artificial lures, using small spinnerbaits, or using bobbers. Crappies are also popular with ice-fishers, as they are active in winter. The current all-tackle fishing world record for a black crappie is 2.25 kg (5.0 lb) and for a white crappie is 2.35 kg (5.2 lb).
In the United States, smallmouth bass were first introduced outside of their native range with the construction of the Erie Canal in 1825, extending the fish's range into central New York state. During the mid-to-late 19th century, smallmouth were transplanted via the nation's rail system to lakes and rivers throughout the northern and western United States, as far as California. Shippers found that smallmouth bass were a hardy species that could be transported in buckets or barrels by rail, sometimes using the spigots from the railroad water tanks to aerate the fingerlings. They were introduced east of the Appalachians just before the Civil War, and afterwards transplanted to the states of New England.
Pike angling is becoming an increasingly popular pastime in the UK and Europe. Effective methods for catching this hard-fighting fish include dead baits, lure fishing, and jerk baiting. They are prized as game fish for their determined fighting.
Lake fishing for pike from the shore is especially effective during spring, when the big pike move into the shallows to spawn in weedy areas, and later many remain there to feed on other spawning coarse fish species to regain their condition after spawning. Smaller jack pike often remain in the shallows for their own protection, and for the small fish food available there. For the hot summer and during inactive phases, the larger female pike tend to retire to deeper water and/or places with better cover. This gives the boat angler good fishing during the summer and winter seasons.
Largemouth bass are keenly sought after by anglers and are noted for the excitement of their fight. The fish will often become airborne in their effort to throw the hook, but many say that their cousin species, the smallmouth bass, can beat them pound for pound. Anglers most often fish for largemouth bass with lures such as plastic worms (and other plastic baits), jigs, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. A recent trend is the use of large swimbaits to target trophy bass that often forage on juvenile rainbow trout in California. Live bait, such as nightcrawlers, minnows, frogs, or crawfish can also be productive. In fact, large golden shiners are a popular live bait used to catch trophy bass, especially when they are sluggish in the heat of summer or in the cold of winter.
Because walleyes are popular with anglers, fishing for walleyes is regulated by most natural resource agencies. Management may include the use of quotas and length limits to ensure that populations are not over-exploited. As one example, in the state of Michigan, walleye shorter than 15 in (38 cm) may not be legally kept, except in Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River where fish as short as 13 in (33 cm) may be taken. Since walleyes have excellent visual acuity under low illumination levels, they tend to feed more extensively at dawn and dusk, on cloudy or overcast days and under choppy conditions when light penetration into the water column is disrupted. Although anglers interpret this as light avoidance, it is merely an expression of the walleye's competitive advantage over its prey under those conditions.