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Redear Sunfish

Illustrator
Duane Raver, Jr.
Season
Open Year-Round
Size Limit
No Size Limit
Daily Limit / Person
50 panfish total (no more than 25 Redear Sunfish)
Delaware Range
Becks Pond, Griffith Lake, Haven Lake, Wagamons Pond, Trap Pond, Hearns Pond and the Saint Jones River
Abundance in Delaware Waters
Common
General Habitat and Food Preferences
Redear Sunfish live in ponds, along with slow-moving areas of streams and rivers.

They mainly feed on aquatic insects, snails, freshwater mussels, and clams in deeper waters.
General Description
Redear Sunfish are one of Delaware's larger and least colorful sunfish. Their back is light green to brown with grey to olive green sides. The chest is a yellowish to cream colored.

Their sides have brown spotting forming a mottled, or checkered, pattern. They may or may not have vertical bars along the sides (like bluegill do).

The male’s black gill flaps are lined with red (hence its name). This red margin turns bright red during spawning.

The female’s black gill flaps are lined with orange. This orange color is often very faint to nonexistent in larger female fish.
Did You Know?
Redear Sunfish are an introduced species to Delaware (meaning they are non-native).

The Redear Sunfish is also known as the "Shell Cracker" because they feed on freshwater clams and mussels.
Common Fishing Lures and Baits
Because Redear Sunfish relate to deep bottom structure, the best technique is to still fish with a baited hook lying motionless on the bottom.

Live bait often includes meal worms, small worms, and small fresh water clams.
Typical Sizes Caught
Redear Sunfish are commonly caught in the range of 8 to 10 inches in length by Delaware anglers.
Citation Minimum Lengths/Weights
Live Release Award
Adult: 10 inches minimum
Youth (age 15 and under): 8 inches minimum

Sport Fishing Tournament Award
Adult: 1 pounds minimum
Youth (age 15 and under): 0.75 pounds (12 ounces) minimum
Delaware State Record
3 pounds 1 ounces
Marty Messick
1998