Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris) are members of the sunfish family and are not a true bass. They are known by the following names: Black Perch, Google-Eye, Red Eye and Rock Sunfish. Do not mistaken the name Red Eye with the Redeye Bass as the Redeye Bass is actually a separate species (Micropterus cosae).
Above: Rock Bass
As a membr of the sunfish family, it is a strong predator and lays in wait for its prey hidden under cover. Liek all members of the sunfish family, it has a panfish shape with a strong tail that allows it to launch from standing to strike it's prey and because of it compact size, it is able to make rapid course corrections.
A Small Fighter
Like most Bass, the Rock Bass puts up a good fight. When you set the hook on one of these fish, you get a sense that it is a small smallmouth bass and not something small like a Rock Bass.
Rock bass have found themselves introduced to many parts of North America. However, this has had a negative effect on many local fish species. They are forascious eaters and tend to eat more than their fair share of local bait fish. They also have a shorter spawning cycle than other local fish, like the Rock Bass, which reduces the population size. While the Rock Bass is threatened, the negative effects of the Rock Bass extends far beyond the Rock Bass, causing a reduction in trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, perch and other fresh wate species.
Their meat is white and firm, which makes them a good eating fish. However, due to the nature of their habitat, they can have a muddy flavour and are host to multiple parasites. As a result, all species of rock bass are considered garbage fish by most sport fishermen. BassFishing-Gurus does not recommend this fish for sport anglers. However, it can be a fun family fish to catch for young children as it does not require anything more than a light tackle rod and reel that can be obtained for as little as US$30.00.
They are popular among young anglers as they are one of the larger fish to be found around docks, rocky areas and other protected areas, reaching to 1.5 lbs quite often, though the record is over three pounds. Simple baits are easy to get them to strike such as simple earth worms and leeches on a standard size hook with a split shot and a simple bobber. And when they strike, they come in the form of nibbles.
Above: Inexpensive rod and reel
These fish have the ability to rapidly change their colour to match their surroundings. It is this chameleon-like trait that allows them to thrive as they are known to overpopulate lakes that do not have a diversity of other fish.
The Rock Bass is not an overly fussy fish and it does have a big appitite. They will eat insects, fathead minnows, golden shiners, gizzard shad, crayfish, worms and leeches. However, the best bet for the Rock Bass is simply the worm. Don't waste your time with expensive lures or baits. Simple earth or dew worms will surfice.
Above: common earth worm
The rock bass looks like a cross between a bluegill and a black bass, though the rock bass is more stalky in appearance: more like an overweight sunfish without the colours. The rock bass is a true sunfish, a member of the Centrarchidae. It has a bluish black blotch on the tip of the gill covers and six spines in front of the anal fin distinguish the fish from the warmouth (Ambloplites rupestris).
Above: Bluegill. Below Rock Bass
It also has a very close resemblance to the Rock Bass, which has a limited distribution to Virginia in the Roanoke, Tar, Neuse and Chowan river catchments. In fact, the Rock Bas and the Rock Bass have been found to cross breed.
Rock Bass have large mouths, narrow rounded deep heads, large eyes and two connected dorsal fins. It has an olive brown or bronze bodies are sometimes tinged dark green and are covered with back spotted scales or faint dark vertical markings reminiscent of the yellow perch's striped body. From the top, they appear to blend in very well with the lake bed.
Above: Close up view of the mouth and red eye.
With a slightly more elongated body than that of the pumpkinseed or bluegill, the main identifying characteristic of the rock bass is its very large red to eyes, though they sometimes resemble a more orange hue and can easily be viewed from above.
It's belly is silvery to dusky white with scales below the lateral line having a dark brown spot which line up to form several horizontal rows. Rapid colour changes from predominantly black to silver, with black blotches not that unusual.
Rock Bass is not a very large fish and does not fight much. They tend to average between half a pound up to one pound in most lake settings. However, the record rock bass is 3.74 pounds (1.7 kilograms) and 17 inches (43 cm) long. In the many years of fishing, we at BassFishing-Gurus.com have never seen a rock bass larger than 1.5 pounds.
Rock bass rarely exceed 12 inches (30 cm) in length and most weigh between one-half pound and a pound. However the record rock bass on record is 3.74 pounds (1.7 kilograms), reaching a length of 17 inches (43 cm) from nose to tail. There size varies depending on their habitat and abundance of food.
Those rock base that live in streams rarely get larger than half a pound whereas the ones living in large lakes can easily reach two pounds. Shallow lakes like Lake Simcoe in Ontario have been known to produce several rock Bass in the one to 1.5 pound (700 grams) range.
Many information sources wrong state the size and length of the rock bass. This information is often based on the locale in which they are caught and being smaller lakes and rivers the information may be true but fail to take into account the scope of their distribution.
Their life expectancy is also a factor of their environment, though it is widely understood that they average about 11 years, with 18 years being the maximum that was observed in captivity.