Fish Profile: Rock Bass

Rock bass are members of the sunfish family. They have flat and relatively round bodies similar to those of pumpkinseed sunfish. Another name for them is the redeye bass since they have dark red eyes with a black pupil. They have spikes or spines at their dorsal and anal fins so it is important to be careful when handling these fish. They are green in colour but can come in shades of light brown as well depending on the environment and diet. They are this colour so that they can camouflage well in rocky or weedy lake bottoms. They also have black spots on the scales which, are probably there to make the pigmentation darker since they live around dark colours like rocks. They are usually about 7 inches long.

Rock bass are named rock bass because they tend to live near rock piles or rocky bottoms of lakes. They can also live near the shore line in shallow water under docks, fallen trees, and any other sub-merged structures in the lake. These fish can be found in the greater part of Quebec, surrounding all of the Great Lakes in Ontario, and in southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Lake Superior is probably the northern most location they can be found.

Rock bass eat small aquatic creatures such as crayfish, worms, and insects. They will feed at just about any time of day that is why they are so easy to catch. In some cases, they have been known to eat their own offspring but that is only if they aren’t in a healthy environment where there isn’t enough food for them and they become desperate. Overall, rock bass aren’t very selective when it comes to eating.

These fish spawn between the spring and the start of summer when the water temperature is about 15 degrees Celsius. The male makes a nest the same way pumpkinseed do, they fan with their fins to make a flat and smooth surface in the sandy bottom of a lake in shallow water for the female to lay her eggs in. The female usually generates between 3000 and 5000 eggs depending on her size. After the eggs hatch, the male guards the offspring until they are not as dependant on him. In the first year, the fish grows about two inches, and are usually close to full size by the end of the third year.

These fish aren’t a very targeted species much like pumpkinseed sunfish since they are small. They do give more of a fight than sunfish since they are a bit more robust. Many anglers, especially young ones, enjoy catching these fish because of their renowned fighting capabilities for their small size. They will bite just about any lure you put in front of them so they are one of the easier fish to catch.


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