Longear Sunfish | Pursuing The Most Beautiful Fish in Texas Waters

by Dalvin

The longear sunfish is the most beautiful fish native to Texas waters! Some longears are stunning for subtle variations of colors. However, breeding males are bold with red eyes, a green-back, blue/turquoise facial lines, and a yellow or orange belly.

The first time I remember holding one of these beauties, we were standing 20 feet above the water on a bridge. The water below was clear. Numerous sunfish beds were visible, but we didn’t know what type of sunfish they were. Reeling the first taker up to the bridge it entered the sunlight and its colors were absolutely stunning!

While they are typically small in size, the longear is usually very aggressive. This makes them easy to catch and a great pursuit for the beginner angler.

Here is the information you need to reel in this true Texas treasure.

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Where Do I Find Longear Sunfish?

Longear Sunfish are plentiful, naturally in rivers, streams, and creeks throughout Texas. Look for them just off flowing water in side tributaries or areas with little current just off the main channel. Like many species of sunfish, they relate to vegetation, stumps, and stick-ups.

We have found them to be particularly fond of gravel bottoms during spawning season which means if you find all three: no to low current, cover, and gravel; then there is a good bet longear are nearby!

What Do Longear Sunfish Eat?

The short answer: anything they can fit in their mouth. Longear will often reveal their presence surface feeding on a leaf or a stick that drops into the water. We have also caught them on bare hooks. In short, they will aggressively pursue anything when they are spawning or hungry.

Natural prey of sunfish include:

  • small fish: bass, sunfish,
  • fish eggs
  • crustaceans: worms, small crawfish…
  • plankton
  • crickets
  • aquatic insects

Our preferred method of catching longear are these two Berkley Gulp products:

  1. Berkley Gulp Maggots in Pink
  2. Berkley Gulp Nightcrawlers
  3. Dry Flies

The Best Tackle for Catching Longear

While their aggression leaves them susceptible to larger line and tackle, longear sunfish are the most fun on ultralight or fly rods. We use a size 6 hook on 4-6 lb test and have a blast.

One exciting thing for fly rod anglers is that they will hit surface flies. This means you can tie on some dry flies, then get out there and wear your arm out catching these beautiful fish.

What is the Biggest Longear Recorded in Texas?

Longear sunfish are typically around 4-8 inches long. This means they are among the smaller of the sunfish family. The largest longear on record measured out at 9.5 inches and 1.7 pounds. The Texas state record weighed in at .84 pounds and 9.2 inches long. It was caught from the San Marcus river. That is a new record waiting on the horizon for some young angler to catch!

One Last Cast

Longear sunfish don’t get a lot of press, however, they are worth the pursuit. At the end of the day, there simply isn’t a prettier fish in the waters of Texas. In addition, every now and then, you will be reeling in one of these sunfish and get to feel the tug of bass, catfish, hybrid, or striper. It is such a rush!

If you are pursuing multiple species, simply love beautiful things, or if you are teaching a newbie how to fish: longear sunfish may be just the treasure you have been looking for. For more detailed information on different species of sunfish check out Types of Sunfish: This Guide Will Make You an Expert.

As always, tight lines and fin time. Get out there and find some of these beautiful fish, as we all pursue thePerfectCombo.

The Colorful Longear Sunfish
Turquoise, green, yellow, orange, and a distinctive red eye. The Longear Sunfish are eye catching!

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