Redear Sunfish

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.

Redear Sunfish Illustration by 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.
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 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 Length and Weight 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