The Redeye Bass (Micropterus coosae) is also known as a Coosa Bass, though there is discussion among ichthyologists that the Redeye Bass group should be broken into several species. The Redeye Bass is similar to the Shoal Bass of the Chattahoochee River drainage. Both species are black bass that includes Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass, which in the Sunfish family (Centrarchidae) of order Perciformes.
Above: Redeye Bass Scientific classification from Kingdom downwards.
The Redeye is native to only a few rivers in western South Carolina, southwestern North Carolina and portions of Georgia and Alabama. It prefers cool streams and rivers in the foothills of mountains and is a big eater of insects more than any other bass. Perhaps this might explain why it is slow growing, but with a maximum age of 10 years, it is not the shortest lived of the bass family.
We at Bassfishing-Gurus.com constantly get asked why we refer to many bass as being members of the sunfish family. Part of the reason for this confusion is how we discus the name of the fish and its family. The Centrarchidae family is commonly referred to as the sunfish family. Other common members of the sunfish family include:
- Black Crappie (Pomoxis negromaculatus)
- Bluegill Sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus)
- Bluespotted Sunfish (Enneacanthus gloriosus)
- Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)
- Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides)
- Longear Sunfish (Lepomis megalotis)
- Mud Sunfish (Acantharchus pomotis)
- Pumpkinseed Sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus)
- Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris)
- Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieui)
There are many comminalities with the sunfish family. They are generally deep bodies and compressed laterally, which makes them well designed to lay in wait and ambus their prey. Most of them are panfish sized with the exception of the Largemouth Bass and the Smallmouth Bass.
When most people think of sunfish, the longear Sunfish comes to mind. And yes, most members of the sunfish family look more like the Longear than the smallmouth Bass or the Redeye Bass.
Above: Longear Sunfish
There are other basses with distributions not that much bigger. The Australian Bass can only be found along the south eastern coast of Australia in rivers, streams and estuaries connected to the ocean. The Kelp bass can be found in a narrow band along the coast of North America. And then there is the Guadalupe Bass, found mainly in the catchment of the Guadalupe river. Only the Roanoke Bass has a smaller distribution.
Unfortunately for the redeye bass, it competes poorly with other bass and that is due partly because it does not fair well in lakes or wide rivers. As a result, their numbers are fallen dangerously close to the endangered list and several efforts have been made to restock the redeye bass in several watersheds of which some it has done rather well and others it has died out or done poorly.
Due to their limited range and small size, the Redeye bass are not known to many American anglers and there is little to no sport market for the fish. However, they are a good fish for children as they won't pull their arms off when they strike unlike a good sized Striped Bass.
Catch and Release
Due to their limited numbers in a very small distribution, we encourage you to practice the catch and release program with the Redeye Bass until their numbers increase. The Redeye is not known for its culinary appeal so setting them free won't have you missing anything.
The Redeye, as per its name, it is characterised by a large amount of red in its eyes. There is a dark spot on the gill cover and rows of dark spots on the lower sides as well as white upper and lower outer edges on the orange-tinged tail. The upper jaw (maxillary) extends to the back of the eye, which is usually red. There are dark bars on the side, which fade to lighter colour in the centre. It has 12 dorsal rays and ten anal rays.
Above: Red eye from adult redeye bass.
This has to be one of the smaller basses we have covered here at Bassfishing-Gurus.com. While they can grow to just over three pounds, a good catch an average catch is considered in the eight to 12 ounce range. The record redeye bass ever caught weighed a whopping three pounds two ounces.
Above: Juvenile Redeye Bass
The redeye bass has a deep bronze back mottled with olive green bands. Their fins are reddish as are the eyes, but with a brick red to brown colour. The underbelly is a deep blue and down the sides of the upper jaws are streaks of blue-green. It has a white margins along the upper and lower lobes of the tail fin that helps identify it from other black basses. The first nine spines of the dorsal fin are sharp and spiny as is the case with most basses of the sunfish family.
The Redeye Bass grows to maximum of 18.75 inches and a maximum weight of three pounds in most streams and rivers. The record for this fish is 15 inches with a weight of eight pounds, 12 ounces.
Now, we have received many articles from anglers stating that the redeye never gets larger than three pounds maximum and averages just under one pound. Well, we have verified that the largest on record is eight pound, 12 ounces and was caught in Florida. However, there are rivers and watersheds where the redeye will not grow beyond three pounds and the average size is somewhere under one pound.
A Tall Tale?
The eight pound, 12 ounce Redeye Bass was supposedly caught in Florida. However, there is not a lot of information on this record, but there are several reputable sites that hold up this record. So, for now, we will honour this record, but don't expect to go fishing for an eight pounder in the south eastern United States. The average size to expect is around 8 ounces.
The Redeye Bass is a member of the sunfish family (Centrarchidae). Most of these fish have a pan fish shape and proportion with the exception of a few very well known fish: the largemouth bass, the smallmouth bass and of course the Redeye Bass.
There shape is very well designed for rapid acceleration and quick turns rather than being designed for cruising. While many of the Centrarchidae fish are pan fish in size, even those with an elongated shape still have a thick tail with a wide fan designed for rapid acceleration and quick turns.