Redeye Bass, March 2015, Fish of the Month!
Well folks, those of you who prefer quarry larger than our American small Sunfishes will be happy to know that, with this entry, we leave the little guys behind and move into the realm of fish that are not typically thought of as being members of the Sunfish family. We're now in the realm of the North American basses (the genus Micropterus).
14 to 17 inches
1 to 2 pounds
Distinguishing Field Marks:
(See the illustration.)
The reddish or yellow color on the second dorsal, caudal, and anal fins distinguishes this from other members of this genus.
The upper and lower lobes of the caudal fin are often tipped with white.
There are usually rows of indistinct, dusky spots below the lateral line, and dark spots and blotches along the back.
The eye, as the name suggests, is red.
The mouth is of moderate size with the upper jaw extending back to the rear edge of the eye.
North American Range:
Map to the right shows approximate range in North America.
Aquatic and terrestrial insects (often taken at the water's surface) and other invertebrates, then later including the preceding as well as crayfish and small fishes.
This southern bass very rarely occurs in lakes or reservoirs, but rather prefers clear gravel- bottom streams with moderate current, more typical of trout than bass. Spawning takes place in spring in nests dug by the males at the heads of pools. The Redeye bass favors water temperatures from 60 to 70 degrees F., much lower than do most of its close relatives.
The males guard and attend their nests through courtship, spawning, incubation of the fertilized eggs, and the early growth of the fry.
Fly Fishing for Redeye Bass:
As mentioned above, Redeye bass are unusual in their genus, in that they strongly prefer the cool waters of streams rather than the warmer water of large rivers, lakes, or impoundments, so finding them will require heading upstream in their range.
The Redeye bass is an excellent game fish which often jumps when hooked. It will take a wide range of the angler's offerings with a preference for, but not limited to, insect imitations. Approach these fish with light gear, 4 to 6 weight outfits, and insect imitating flies (your trout flies will do quite nicely).
Significance to Humans:
Although it has been introduced into waters beyond its native range, to the sometimes extreme detriment of the species native to those waters, the Redeye bass has a local significance to anglers. It is sometimes taken as a food fish and makes good eating.