Ambloplites Rupestris



Lake, Stream Pools, Vegetation, Rocky Bottom

1 - 3 pounds

6" - 17"

Rock Bass

Also Known As: rock perch, goggle-eye, red eye

Guides Who Fish This Species

Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris) Fish Description

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.


 Interesting Facts About Rock Bass

  • The Rock Bass is not actually a bass but a member of the sunfish family.
  • The biggest Rock Bass ever caught on record weighs about three pounds and was a little over one foot long.
  • They often stay camouflaged in their environment to avoid predators and other threats.
  • They can travel as far as 150 miles away from their place of birth in search for habitat and food.
  • They wander from habitat to habitat in search of food.
  • A single female can lay an average of 5,000 eggs during spawning season.
  • Males become more territorial during spawning as they protect their eggs.
  • Males guard the eggs by circling around the nest.
  • When faced with a trespasser, they make themselves look bigger by spreading their opercles (the plates protecting the gills) and opening their mouth wide.
  • They are fairly easy to catch because of their abundance and their aggressiveness.
  • Rock Bass are sometimes kept as pets.
  • They can be a lively and animated pet in home aquariums.
  • They can be taught to eat pellets.


Rock Bass Speed, Size, and Lifespan

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.  


Where to Find Them

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.


Rock Bass Fishing Tips

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:

  1. Pack light as a small to medium spinning tackle is more than enough to handle these little swimmers.
  2. As with most fish species, the best bait to use for Rock Bass fishing is a live one with nightcrawlers, wax worms, crickets, and minnows topping the list.
  3. If you prefer artificial lures, however, you’d be better off using lures that are small and lightweight and would look alive in the water such as spinners, spoons, and craw lures.
  4. They may be easy to catch but, of course, you would have to find them first. The best chance of locating them is usually near boulders, rocks, drop-offs, fallen trees, and even docks; in pretty much any area where currents are slow, the water is shallow and clear, vegetated, and the bottom is rock and/or sandy.