Post date: Monday, March 5, 2012 - 23:29
Updated date: 8/22/19
Rock Bass, Ambloplites rupestris


The Rock Bass is a mottled, brownish sunfish with red eyes and a large mouth. As the name implies, it has an affinity for rocks - or other submerged cover, like branches, logs, or thick weeds. It is an underappreciated panfish in parts of the country, especially in the northern part of its range, where many anglers inexplicably assume it has a poor flavor. Nothing could be farther from the truth, as this is a tasty panfish on a par with bluegills and crappies. Although few anglers choose to pursue this fish, it is a willing biter, a feisty fighter in larger sizes, and excellent table fare.


Other Names: Northern Rock Bass, Redeye, Goggle-eye, Black Perch, Rockie, Branch Perch, Redeye Bass, Rock Sunfish





The rock bass is a stout, robust sunfish with an overall coppery-brown coloration. The scales along its sides have a black spot, often giving it a striped appearance, especially below the lateral line. The anal fin bears five to seven spines and is edged in black. The ear flap bears a dark spot, and the mouth is larger than other sunfish of a similar size. The average rock bass you'll catch will be between six and eight inches long and weight about haf a pound, but this fish is capable of attaining lengths up to 17 inches and weights of over three pounds.





Rock bass may be found in both rivers and lakes. In small warmwater streams they often become the dominant sunfish species. In every case, they frequent areas with heavy cover - rocks, logs, trees, and patches of dense aquatic vegetation are its preferred haunt. In my opinion, it's more of a "Log Bass" than a "Rock Bass" as nothing attracts rock bass quite like a downed tree in the water. Although they stick tightly to their cover, rock bass are bold and brash predators, which will streak out from their hiding spot to grab an unsuspecting crustacean, insect, or minnow.





Rock Bass can be caught on a wide variety of small baits and lures, but their large mouth means they can take lures up to 3 or 4 inches long! Small crayfish are undoubtedly the best bait for Rock Bass. You can use small crayfish whole, or use just the tail of larger ones. Other baits to consider are minnows, leeches, worms, hellgrammites, crickets and grasshoppers. Flies that imitate this sort of creature can be very effective as well, and they occasionally take surface lures cast near their hiding places. Rock bass strike quickly and fiercely, often dashing back to cover after the attack. You have to put pressure on them immediately in these situation to avoid having your line tangled in the rock bass's rocky or brushy home. The best areas to fish for them are shallow areas in and around logs, brush, large rocks, and other thick cover. They also can be caught through the ice in some areas, using the same tactics one would use for walleyes and yellow perch. A cane pole is an excellent weapon for targeting this fish, as this equipment makes it easy to precisely place a bait within cover, and the long, reel-less rod allows the struggling rock bass to be levered straight up out of cover without becoming wrapped in the logs and brush.



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