Lake, Stream Pools, Vegetation, Rocky Bottom
1 - 3 pounds
6" - 17"
Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris) are a small game fish that got their name from their preferred habitat of lakes and streams with rocky bottoms. They are sometimes also called goggle-eye or red-eye because of their big, reddish eyes. Other distinguishing characteristics include: a short stocky body, a large mouth; five to seven spines in its anal fin; dark brown to olive on back fading to brown, brassy or greenish hues on the sides and lighter on the belly; and the irregular small spots on each scale below the lateral line that form narrow bands.
This freshwater fish species is known for their aggressive nature, especially during spawning season when they become more territorial. They’re carnivorous and eat pretty much anything smaller than them including insects, crustaceans, fish, and crayfish. Adults often eat heavily in the evening and early in the morning. They also use chemical signals to communicate and perceive their environment. This ability helps them locate their prey, identify opposite sexes, and identify predators. Another interesting info worth mentioning about Rock bass is that they have the ability to change their colors quickly to match their surroundings, thus, helping them avoid and/or escape predators.
Although they can travel really far from where they’re born, Rock Bass are fairly slow swimmers. Nonetheless, they can swim faster in spurts to escape predators. They are also particularly small and can only grow between six to ten inches and weigh under a pound on average. In the wild, they are known to live on average of about five to eight years, depending of course on the level of predation as well as food supply on the environment they’re living in. They can, however, live up to eighteen years in captivity.
As earlier mentioned, Rock Bass are often found swimming in shallow parts of streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds that are either rocky or sandy. They can also be found in heavily vegetated waters that provides them cover from predators. They are native to the North Atlantic region of the US and the St. Lawrence, Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and Mississippi River, as well as Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri water systems. You can also find them in the western and central states, thanks to the many introductions made in the late 1800s up to the latter decades of the twentieth century.
Yes, because of its small stature and relative abundance in comparison to other gamefish, catching a Rock Bass will not win you any fishing awards. It can still, nonetheless, be rewarding and fun even for experienced anglers as catching one can still pose a bit of a challenge—not to mention that its meat tastes as good as other freshwater fish out there. If you’re planning a Rock Bass fishing trip, you might find these tips helpful: