I catch some greens and some bluegills but for what ever reason I like the red ears best, well next to goggle eye.
My supply of long ears don't get nearly as large as they do in Texas.
don't take any of this the wrong way, but most everybody is going to prefer catching the larger species like redbreast (yellow bellies) and red-ear (shellcrackers). They just plain get big, can also have nice colors, and female shellcrackers are as territorial as the little male long-ears.
The redbreast sunfish in the top of cold Lake Austin have astounding coloration - the deepest royal blue and ruby red.
Here's a pretty red-ear male from the Pedernales headwaters - only males have the red ears.
Saw him eat the fly in fast water.
and from an oxbow a few country blocks away, a lifetime yellow-belly hen, looking like a caricature of a sunfish.
Saw this, too, when she snatched the fly away from the 5-lb bass I was sight-fishing.
For 5 or 6 years, we caught this same shellcracker hen at the same spot (literally a yards-wide window down from Wagon Wheel crossing) once/year. When you released her, she would hang at your feet to keep an eye on you and escort you out of her territory.
how about a freakishly large shellcracker hen - I'm hoping to find her again later this spring - I know exactly where to look.
The thing is, neither of those species are native to Texas - both wild fish are native to Atlantic drainages, and were introduced to Texas, and probably much of North America (both are standard fare for stocking ponds).
The thing that is so special about the diminutive native long-ears is that their individual strain markings show how special each strain is to your home water - and theirs - each strain is endemic - they won't be marked quite the same in the next river over.
If catching one of these doesn't satisfy your day, I think you're missing it.
btw Doug, your beauty green sunfish is probably native - if you check my sunfish ID link, CO is right on the edge of their range.
Most of Texas was once a coral reef. When you think about it, it's kind of cool for their coral reef ancestors to have migrated to a mile-high.