Game Fishing > Sunfish Family, Centrarchidae > Long-eared Sunfish

Long-eared Sunfish

Long-eared SunfishThis species was first described by Rafinesque in 1820 from streams in Kentucky. He named it megalotis, meaning "large ear," owing to its large and conspicuous ear-flap. It is one of the handsomest sunfishes in its brilliant coloration, and a great favorite with the youthful Waltonians of the Mississippi Valley.

The Long-eared Sunfish inhabits small streams in Michigan and the Mississippi Valley, and the Atlantic slope from South Carolina to Florida and Mexico, and is very abundant in Kentucky, where it is sometimes called " tobacco­box," owing to its "lid-like " opercle.

Its body is short and deep, with quite a hump or arch anteriorly, making the profile of the face quite steep in old specimens. The ear-flap is very long and wide, blackish in color, with a border usually of pale bluish or a reddish hue; its back is blue, with chestnut or orange belly; sides with red spots and bluish lines; iris of eye red; lips blue.

The soft rays of the dorsal fin are blue, with orange between. Ventral and anal fins are dusky blue. The top of the head and nape is dark. The coloration is very brilliant and varies in different localities. Its habits of feeding and spawning are similar to those of the blue sunfish, though it usually inhabits smaller streams; it grows to a length of from six to eight inches, and is regarded as a good pan-fish by many.

It is an eager biter at angle-worms, which is the bait par excellence of juvenile anglers, who greatly enjoy fishing for "sunnies." The only tackle needed is a light cane rod very fine line, and small hooks, number 6 or 8, split-shot sinker, and, of course, a float, for no boy would care to fish without a "bob" or "cork."

Half of the pleasure of the young angler is in watching the float. But the fly-fisher may also obtain sport to his liking with a rod of a few ounces' weight and midge flies on number 10 hooks, for at the close of the day the long-eared sunfish rises well. In the absence of better fishing this is not to be despised.