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River, Lake, Backcountry
1 - 2 pounds
8" - 12"
Redbreast Sunfish has a bluish-green color with rusty brown spots on a moderately deep body. They have a red-yellow breast and belly. The males have a bright red head when spawning. Its mouth reaches just below the leading edge of its eye. It has short, round pectoral fins that are shorter in length than its head. But, The distinguishing feature of the Redbreast Sunfish is their long, narrow extension of its gill cover. These flaps are black and reach up to one inch or more making them look like "ears."
Redbreast Sunfish are opportunist feeders that generally feast on snails, insects, and other invertebrates. Their favorite items on the menu are dragonfly larvae, mayflies, and small fishes They also feed on clams, crayfish, and shrimp.
The Redbreast Sunfish grow up to 12 inches and weigh up to 2.5 pounds though more often found at 9 inches and 1 pound. They can live up to seven years but seldom beyond.
Anglers can use many types of live bait like waxworms, grasshoppers, crickets, nightcrawlers, and mealworms to capture Redbreast. Small lures of flies are also effective. They are also popular with fly anglers during cooler weather (look for them in waters as deep as 30 feet) because they tend to be an easier catch when the water is cooler. During most of the year, the Redbreast Sunfish remains in shallow water no deeper than 20 feet.
Most anglers arm themselves with a light spinning tackle to capture this species of fish. Anglers can capture them by fishing from a drifting or slowly powered boat; angling from the bank can also be as effective. Anglers must not use a heavy line to avoid scaring the Redbreast Sunfish away. Smaller fishing tackle and hooks must be used as well as a small ⅛ to ¼ ounce sliding sinker and a 12-inch leader.
The Redbreast Sunfish inhabit sand-bottom areas, rocky and vegetated pools, and freshwater lakes. They like cool rivers and streams around the banks with temperatures ranging from 60.8 to 78.8º F.
The Redbreast Sunfish is native to the river systems in the US and eastern Canada, as well as the watersheds of the Atlantic Ocean. This species has been introduced to West Texas and Louisiana, among others. They run throughout central and northern Florida.