- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
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.
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.
Rock bass spawn from mid-spring to early summer when the water temperature reaches 65 to 75 F. They build circular nests in gravel or sandy areas by fanning out debris with their tail fins. Nests are built in shallow water and about 8 to 10 inches in diameter.
Female rock bass lay between 3,000 and 11,000 eggs, and may deposit them in more than one nest. Males then guard the nest until eggs hatch in about 3 to 4 days. Males often nest one or two more times in the same season.
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.
In most regions, rock bass are not heavily pursued by anglers, yet many fishermen enjoy catching them, mainly because they are not seen as often as the more recognized panfish species. Its meat is white and firm and makes for good eating, although it takes many rock bass to feed a small family.
Rock bass are scrappy fighters, but they tire quickly, which makes them perfect for light or ultralight tackle. Because they often travel in schools, anglers frequently catch several in the same location. Rocky areas in shallow to medium depths (between 6 and 12 feet) are common holding areas for rock bass in lakes and ponds, as are gravel beds near flooded timber and stumps. In stream environments, check deep, calm pools along the banks where large rocks are present, deep-water gravel beds where a large weed structure begins, and beneath overhanging limbs and branches along the banks, especially if the water is deeper than 3 feet at the bank.
Fishing techniques for rock bass are similar to those for sunfish, especially bluegills.
Traditionally, rock bass are caught with live baits, such as garden worms, nightcrawlers, and small crayfish and minnows. A popular tactic is simply placing a small worm on a short-shank hook with a few small split shot below a float or bobber, allowing the bait to sit about 6 inches above the bottom.
Artificial lures can also attract rock bass, mainly small crankbaits, spinners and plastic or hair-bodied jigs (often tipped with live bait). Fly-fishermen often catch rock bass on small poppers or bugs during low-light periods. Rock bass are relatively easy to catch, and will take a bait at any time of day, though they feed heaviest before sunrise and after sunset, or on overcast days.
- 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.