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Rock Bass are dependable. His spawn time, diet and other habits are always the same. Some people call the Rock Bass, "Old Red Eye" because of the red iris of its eye. The mouth of the Rock Bass extends past the red eye making it a fish of its size with a fairly large mouth.

Rock Bass really aren't bass. They belong to the sunfish family and like any other sunfish their body is short and thick set. Their normal size is five to seven inches long and weigh about one pound at maturity. They have a single dorsal fin with ten to twelve spines and five to seven spines on the anal fin. They have a rounded pectoral fin and the lateral line is similar to that of a largemouth bass. As bass use the lateral line to sense vibrations in the water, so does the Rock Bass.

Before they spawn Rock Bass school in deep holes where there is an eddy or swirl that washes food to them. After they spawn the fish will go into deeper water off rocky points. Depending on what part of the country you live, Rock Bass spawn from April to July when the water temperature reaches between 60 and 65 degrees. The male is a nest protector and his cousins the bluegill and pumpkin seed sunfish are egg stealers, so the male protects the nest and eggs from the sunfish.

Rock Bass shun sunlight, so you will always find them on the shady side of a structure. If there are docks, stick ups, or overhanging trees, fish the shady side. Fish all the structure, anywhere something casts a shadow on the water. When fishing a stream look for Rock Bass where there are structures like fallen trees, brush growing in the water, underwater logs, stumps, stick ups, anything that offers shade and where fish can secret themselves. Ponds have more lily pads for shade and concealment so the Rock Bass will be hiding in the lily pads.

Late April is a prime time to target Rock Bass. The most effective baits are nightcrawler and perch minnows. Often you can use a small spinner with a white skirt or white curly tail to bring "Old Red Eye" to the net.

Most anglers start with two poles. On one pole add a snap swivel to your line. Attach a #10 hook with a split shot to the snap swivel, and a bobber about five feet up from the hook. The bobber should be only big enough to support your offering. Add a nightcrawler as bait and cast out about 30 feet from shore. On the second pole have the same set up except the bobber is four feet from the hook and the bait is a perch minnow. Cast this offering about twenty feet from shore. Let the fish tell you the setup he prefers. Sometimes they prefer the nightcrawler or another time the minnow. If the fish take the worm, set the hook and a 3/4 pound Rock Bass will meet the net. Rebait the hook and cast back to the 30 foot spot. If the fish takes the worm again rebait both setups with a nightcrawler and cast them out. Seven inch Rock Bass are not unusual this time of year and make fine table fare.

You could return two days later and the pattern changes because of the flow of the current and water temperature. Use the same two presentations until the fish tells you his preference. Today he may prefer a small white or yellow spinner. Experiment until the fish tells you his preference. No matter what day you target Rock Bass you will call him, "Mr. Dependable."

EQUIPMENT

Ultra Lite Spinning Outfit

Six or eight pound test monofilament line
Snap swivel
Number 10 hooks
Bobber
Split shot
A small white or yellow spinner, a dozen worms and twelve perch minnows