In Oregon, redear sunfish are restricted to the Willamette Valley and parts of central Oregon. They were introduced in Oregon because they are not as prone to overpopulate and stunt as the other sunfish.
Features: Redear sunfish are often confused with bluegill, but differ by having a red or orange border around the black ear flap and by lacking the spot on the dorsal fin and the vertical bars on the side.
Habitat: In Oregon, redear sunfish are found only in a few ponds in the Willamette Valley and the central part of the state. In their native range, redear sunfish prefer warm, large lakes and reservoirs and bayous with vegetated shallow areas and clear water. They feed primarily on the bottom and seldom take surface insects. The diet consists mostly of zooplankton, insect larvae, snails, and other invertebrates. Redear sunfish were introduced in Oregon because they grow rapidly and are not as prone to overpopulate and stunt as the other sunfish.
Techniques: Redear are best targeted during the late spring when they are spawning and can be found in shallow water where they are highly visible. Look for them in ½- to 6-feet of water in wind-protected areas such as the back ends of coves. They will often be over sand or gravel bottoms where these are available. Spawning begins when the temperature approaches 70 degrees F. At other times of the year find them near weed beds, along drop-offs or around submerged woody debris. Use a bobber rig and size 10- or 12-hook baited with worms, meal worm, crickets, piece of nightcrawler or other natural bait. You can also try a bobber and bait or fly rig fished near the bottom. A dark colored wet fly in size 12 or 14 can be effective when fishing for the larger redear sunfish.