Rock bass (Ambloplites)
The rock bass appearance is often described as a cross between a bluegill and a largemouth bass. Its coloring is bronze or olive brown on the back and sides, and whitish on the belly. They have dark spots that form vertical rows on each side. The body is deeper and stouter than most members of the sunfish family. There is a single dorsal fin with 10 to 12 spines and an anal fin with 6 spines. They have large, almost bulging red eyes and a large mouth that extends beyond the middle of the eye.
Young rock bass feed on plankton and other small aquatic life, switching to insects and crustaceans as they grow. Rock bass are opportunistic feeders, eating small crustaceans such as crayfish, as well as mollusks, insects, and prey fish, feeding mostly before dawn and after sunset.
Rock bass are mainly ambush hunters, hiding among the rocks or other natural structure and darting out to grab any prey that pass by. They will, however, also take insects on the surface, especially in streams.
Rock bass are native to the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, from southern Manitoba east to Ontario and Quebec, and southward through the Great Lakes region and the Mississippi Valley to the Gulf of Mexico, as far as northern Alabama and northern Georgia. They have been introduced into other states, including some in the western United States, with varying levels of success.
Rock bass are found in lakes, streams and ponds of all sizes with cool, clear water. Streams usually have a moderate current and are small to medium in size. Lakes are usually small and weedy, and when large, rock bass live at the outer edges. They are rarely found in large rivers. In both lake and stream environments, they need abundant shelter, mainly because they tend to avoid sunlight.
In general, they prefer the same habitat as smallmouth bass. Obviously, they get their name by almost always being found over rocky bottoms, although young rock bass will occupy weedy areas.
- The rock bass is not a true bass but a member of the sunfish family.
- The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) all-tackle world record is a 3-pound rock bass caught in southern Canada.
- Rock bass have the ability to change color and patterns in a matter of seconds to match its surroundings.
- The species name rupestris means living among rocks
- Because rock bass prefer protected waters, they can have a muddy flavor or host numerous parasites.
- Rock bass are known to overpopulate small lakes, making population control measures necessary.