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Rock Bass


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ambloplites rupestris

CHARACTERISTICS: Rock bass, also called goggle-eye, can be easily distinguished from shadow bass by the well-defined rows of dark spots along the sides, particularly below the lateral line, which usually contains 37 to 46 scales. The dorsal fin has 10 to 13 spines and 10 to 12 rays. The anal fin has five to seven spines and nine to 11 rays. The mouth is large, and the upper jaw extends to below the middle of the eye. The back and sides of this species are olive to light brown with distinct horizontal rows of black spots. The vertical fins have a light yellowish background. The basal areas are mottled with brown or gray, and the distal portion has two to four dark bands. The anal fin on adult males has a distinct black margin. The iris is red to reddish orange. Venter color can vary from white to light brown or charcoal. See Rafinesque (1817b) for original description.

ADULT SIZE: 8 to 10 in (203 to 254 mm). The Alabama state angling record for rock bass (1 lb, 6 oz) was caught May 6, 1995 from the Paint Rock River.

DISTRIBUTION: Rock bass are limited to the Tennessee River system in Alabama, but they could eventually enter the upper Tombigbee River system through the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Most of our collection have come from small to medium streams with rubble and gravel substrates and slow to moderate current. Individuals linger around submerged vegetation or tree roots in pools. Pflieger (1975) reports that spawning occurs from April through June in Missouri. Although we have not observed spawning in Alabama, it probably occurs in March and April, when the shadow bass spawn. Primary food items include crayfishes, large aquatic insect larvae, and small fishes (Probst et al., 1984). Redmon and Krumholz (1978) report that rock bass have a maximum life span of eight years.

REMARKS: Rock bass are an excellent small-stream game fish, particularly when caught with ultralight spinning gear or a fly rod.

ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: The rock bass was described by Rafinesque in 1817.

Ambloplites means blunt armature.
Rupestris means among the rocks.

The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.

ADDITIONAL COMMON NAMES: In the southeast, anglers also call rock bass: goggle-eye, redeye, black perch, and rock sunfish, according to Cloutman and Olmstead in Fisheries (Vol. 8, No. 2).

Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.

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