Longear Sunfish

Family: 
Centrarchidae (sunfishes) in the order Perciformes (perch-like fishes)
Description: 

Deep and slab-sided sunfish with a moderate-sized mouth, the upper jaw nearly reaching the front of the eye. Back and sides are blue-green speckled with yellow and emerald; the belly is yellow or orange. Side of head is olive or light orange with sky-blue vermiculations. Elongated ear flap is black and often bordered in white. Rounded pectoral fin.  Most closely related to bluegill, green sunfish, and other sunfishes.

Size: 
Total length: 5 to 6 inches; maximum about 7 inches and 4.5 ounces.
Habitat and conservation: 
Occurs in reservoirs, ponds, and in pools, inlets, and overflow waters of streams. Prefers clear water and a sand, gravel, or pebble bottom. Abundant in Ozark streams of all sizes except for extreme headwaters. Favors clear, permanent-flowing streams having sandy or rocky bottoms and aquatic vegetation. Avoids strong currents and is found in pools, inlets, and overflow waters adjacent to the stream channel. Most active in daytime.
Foods: 
Carnivorous, feeding on insects, small crustaceans, and some small fish.
Distribution in Missouri: 
In the southern half of the state. This species is the most abundant and generally distributed sunfish in southern Missouri.
Status: 
This nongame fish is also sometimes called "pumpkinseed," "creek perch," "sun perch," and "sunnie."
Life cycle: 
Individuals can live for 6 years.
Human connections: 
Despite its small size, the longear sunfish is an important panfish in Ozark streams because of its abundance and willingness to bite. Provides excellent sport when taken on light tackle.