This species is native to the U.S. Gulf states from Texas to Florida, including all of the Florida peninsula, and north to Indiana and North Carolina. Through introductions, the redear's range has been extended northward to the Great Lakes and transplanted populations also exist in the West.
This is a rather large sunfish known to reach over 4.5 lb (2.04 kg). As is typical of sunfishes, the redear has a small mouth, connected dorsal fins and a roundish, laterally compressed body. Its long, pointed, slightly falcate pectoral fins distinguish it from both the longear sunfish (Lepomis megalotis) and the redbreast sunfish (L. auritus), which have short, roundish pectoral fins. The opercular flap is also much shorter than in the other two species and is black, with a red spot or margin at the tip. It can be distinguished from the similar looking pumpkinseed (L. gibbosus) by the fact that its gill cover flap is semi-flexible and can be bent at least to right angles, whereas the flap on the pumpkinseed is rigid. It also lacks the spots on the dorsal fin and the bluish emerald lines on the sides of the head that are characteristic of the pumpkinseed. The body is slightly less compressed than that of the bluegill (L. macrochirus), which differs from the redear most noticeably in the fact that its gill cover flap is entirely black without any spot or trim.
Like the bluegill and other sunfishes, it is an excellent panfish with white, flaky meat. It is less likely to be caught on artificials, such as spinners or poppers, than the other sunfishes. It prefers small live baits such as worms, grubs, insects and sometimes shrimp. Rarely, the redear will take a small fly or other small lure. It is strictly an angler's fish and has no commercial value
Current All Tackle Record
5 lbs 12oz ( 2.61 kg)
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