Rock Bass (Red Eye)

Rock Bass (Red Eye)
Rock Bass (Red Eye)

Other Names

Rock perch, goggle-eye, red eye, rock sunfish.

Appearance

Rock bass are more closely related to bluegill than other forms of bass, but it's body shape and mouth size is more similar to black bass species like the smallmouth. It is olive-brown or bronze in color along the sides and back and covered sporadically with spots and even lines of black, giving it a striped look at times. The darkness of its color alters, however, based on its surroundings. Rock bass have two connected dorsal fins, with the front half made up of a series of spines. Rock bass also have 5-6 anal fin spines. Perhaps the most striking feature are its eyes, which are quite large and bright red in color.

Maximum Size

Can weigh up to three pounds (1.4 kg) and 14 inches (35 cm).

Geographic Range

Their native range extends from the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes system through to Saskatchewan in Canada, and southwards down the Mississippi River basin in the United States, going as far south as Missouri and Arkansas.

Habitat

rock bass
Rock bass prefer clear streams and lakes with rocky structure and vegetation. The more cover there is in a lake (especially rock, as their name would suggest), the more chance a rock bass population has to thrive. Rock bass show little signs of being deterred by human activity and so can often be found under docks. Their preference for habitat is shared by smallmouth, and it's common to see both species sharing the same waters.

Life Span

10-12 years.

Food

Aquatic insects primarily, but also small crayfish and minnows. They tend to feed along the bottom.

Reproduction and Spawning

Rock bass typically reach reproductive maturity at three years of age. Male bass build nests over gravel in a slight current, often next to a large rock of some sort. Females can lay up to 10,000 eggs, often sharing the same space with other females. Bass hatch in three to four days, with the adult males guarding the nests in the meanwhile.

Predators

Muskie, pike, walleye, bigger bass.

Information credit: Ohio Department of Natural Resources.


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