The Redbreast Sunfish's original range was coastal plain rivers and streams throughout eastern North America into Canada. It has been introduced as far west as Texas. Typically found in cool water rivers and streams it was also found in some ponds, lakes and marshes.
The Redbreast Sunfish prefers shallow water over sand or rocky bottoms. They will orient to underwater structure such as boulders, logs, aquatic vegetation and undercut banks
The most distinguishing feature of the Redbreast Sunfish is the elongated earflap on the edge of the gill plate. Redbreast Sunfish average 4.3 inches in length but will reach a maximum of 12 inches. The current all tackle record is a 1lb-12oz fish caught in the Suwannee River in Florida in 1984. Like other sunfish, they go by many names including Yellowbelly Sunfish, Sun Perch, Redbreast Bream and Longear Sunfish (to avoid confusion it is important to note that there is a separate species with the name Longear Sunfish).
Redbreast Sunfish are the most sensitive of the sunfishes to human impact. They are sensitive to pH imbalances and habitat degradation such as bank clearing and removal of stream debris, which they use for protection from predators.
Like other sunfish the males are more brightly colored especially during the spawning season. They predominantly are found with a red breast but colors ranging from orange to yellow are not uncommon. The dorsal area is olive in color with a blue-bronze tint on the fishes sides. The gill plate may have light blue streaks, but the distinguishing feature is the narrow extenstion an inch in length on larger fisg and entirely balck
Redbreast Sunfish probably have the most varied diet of all sunfishes. They readily feed on mayflies, damsel and dragon fly larvae, terrestrials, aquatic worms, small fish, clams, snails, shrimp and crayfish. They are also one of the few species that will feed at night.
Redbreast Sunfish spawn in the fall when water temperature is in the 60-78 degree range, which could be late summer in some areas. Like ofther sunfish the males build and protect the nests which are built on sand or gravel bottoms in one to three feet of water
Effective Fly Patterns
Rebbreast Sunfish readily take flies of all types. Their varied diet allows for the use of topwater bugs and dries, nymphs, wet flies and small streamers.