The Redear Sunfish, also known as the shellcracker or cherry gill, is one of the most popular fish to be stocked in Ohio lakes and ponds. They are native to the Southeastern United States but due to their reputation as a good sporting fish, they are now stocked all over North America. They are strong fighters but they prefer natural bait such as worms, crickets, and grubs.
The Redear Sunfish is called the shellcracker because it prefers to consume snails. It has recently been used as a method of biological control to manage the invasive species, quagga mussels. They have hard moveable plates in their throat which grants them the ability to crush mollusk exoskeletons. This mollusk feeding niche allows for the Redear Sunfish to have little competition between other fish species allowing it to survive during food shortages.
This sunfish is dark colored dorsally and yellow-green ventrically. Adults can reach 20-24cm. The world record Redear Sunfish is 5 pounds, 3 ounces.