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Sunfish

Sunfish just aren't given the respect they deserve. Think about it: how many days was a sunfish the only thing you caught?

There are many different types of sunfish but the most common are the Longear, Green, Warmouth, Bluegill, Redbreast, Pumpkinseed, and Redear. Hopefully by the time you finish the quiz you'll know them all (if you don't already).

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Pumpkinseed: Lepomis gibbosus

The Pumpkinseed is the most colorful of the sunfish listed here. They're sort of shaped like a seed from a pumpkin, have wavy blue lines across their face, and their body is often brownish with red/orange spots. Most importantly, their earflap is black and has a red or orange area on the tip.

In general they are found in colder water than the other sunfish, often around weedy areas. Pumpkinseed eat a large amount of snails and also feed on aquatic insects, mostly on the bottom of the pond, lake, or stream.

Redbreast: Lepomis auritus

The Redbreast looks a bit like a Bluegill but there are several important differences. The long black earflap and the bright red/orange/yellow belly are strong evidence that you have a Redbreast (see your doctor). In fact, the earflap for adult fish can be almost an inch.

Redbreasts eat most anything that fits in their mouths - small crayfish, aquatic insects, snails, minnows, etc.

Green: Lepomis cyanellus

First off the Green Sunfish is, well, green. Perhaps olive-colored. Look for a black earflap with a bit of red on the end, a big mouth, and yellow or white lined fins. They often have turquoise spots on their body and may have blue lines on their face. They body is also shaped more like a bass than Bluegill or Pumpkinseeds. They eat insects, minnows, and smaller crayfish.

Longear: Lepomis megalotis

A long, black earflap with white border defines the Longear Sunfish. They typically have wavy blue lines leading away from their face. Longears are very colorful fish making them easy to distinguish from the Redbreast which also has a long earflap. They are more likely to feed at the surface of the water compared to other sunfish.

Bluegill: Lepomis gulosus

I never really thought of the bluegill as a sunfish. Growing up it was either a bluegill or a sunfish. Ah for simpler times. The bluegill has a small mouth and the characteristic blue earflap without any border. They also have a blue blotch of color on the back of their dorsal fin (the one on top of the fish). They'll often have six to eight vertical bars on their body.

Since their mouth is small, bluegills normally eat bugs and small organisms. They'll also eat some aquatic vegetation. Bluegills like warm, shallow areas with vegetation and standing or slow moving water.

Warmouth: Lepomis gulosus

The easiest way to tell if you have a Warmouth Sunfish is to stick your finger in its mouth and see if it has teeth on its tongue. I want teeth on my tongue. Other key features are the big mouth, red eyes in males (while alive), a molted appearance, and dark lines leading away from its eyes. The male Warmouth may have a red spot on the base of the dorsal fin.

If you're trying to tell a Warmouth from a Rockbass look at the anal fins. The Warmouth only has three spines. The Rockbass will have six.

Since they have big mouths, Warmouths feed on minnows, crayfish, and aquatic organisms.

Redear: Lepomis microlophus

True to its name the Redear Sunfish has red (sometimes orange) border around its earflap. It has a spotted body and sometimes has red or orange flecks near the belly.

The Redear is sometimes called Shellcracker because it eats a lot of snails and clams which it can grind up with teeth in their throat. I want teeth in my throat! They also eat insects, small fish, and small crayfish. The Redear seldom comes to the surface of the water for flies or top water lures.