Freshwater Fish - Species

Flier - Click to enlarge photo

Species Specific Regulations


Freshwater Fishing License required.

Complete fishing regulations

Guide to Freshwater Fishes

Guide to Freshwater Fishes
(Adobe PDF - 3MB)

Flier (Centrarchus macropterus) - Native

Description: (Anatomy of a Fish)
The flier looks almost circular. The body is olive green to silver in color and has interrupted rows of black spots along the side. A distinct, large black teardrop-shaped marking below the eye. The operculum or gill cover lobe is black. Young fliers have a dark spot outlined in an orange ring on the dorsal fin. These spots fade and disappear with age. The flier has 11-13 dorsal fin spines.

Range: Predominantly found in the coastal plain of South Carolina; however, there are records of the flier in tributaries of the Broad, Saluda and Savannah rivers.

Average Length: 5 inches

Average Size: 3 ounces

South Carolina State Record: 1 pound 4 ounces (1977)

Life Expectancy: Approximately 8 years

Preferred Habitat

The flier is commonly found in the warm and heavily vegetated waters of the coastal plain in swamps, creeks, ponds, backwaters, sloughs, roadside drainage ditches and low flowing streams.

Food Habits

  • Small aquatic insects and small fishes.


  • Spawning for fliers begins earlier than most sunfish around March to May when water temperatures are reaching 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The males build and defend the nests which are often in groups.
  • The females deposit 20,000-35,000 eggs in the nests.


The flier is a species of sunfish which establishes fishable population in the coastal plain section of South Carolina. It has the most dorsal fin spines, usually 11-13, of any sunfish.

Commonly Mistaken Species

Some species of fish that are commonly mistaken for this species:

Literature Cited

Rohde, Fred C, Arndt, Rudolf G., Foltz, Jeffery W., Quattro, Joseph M. 2009. Freshwater Fishes of South Carolina. University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina.

Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. 2009. South Carolina Guide to Freshwater Fishes.

Fish Illustration by Duane Raver.