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Rock Bass Time!
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Joined:
2006/9/9 17:32
From Gettysburg
Posts: 9179
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I really enjoy rock bass or "redeyes" as many country folks call 'em. This evening I got out on a local ATW where I like to fish rockies and smallies in the summer and wasn't disappointed. As far as I'm concerned, summer is here when I start catching rockies and bass in the local creeks. (Actually, with the good flow and water temps in the mid 60s the creek was still loaded with stocked trout and I caught a bunch of them too and whacked a couple for dinner)
Like many of you, I have fond memories of catching rockies as a kid and they remain a favorite fly rod quarry for me to this day. They inhabit many of the same streams and rivers as smallmouth bass. It does seem to me that rock bass have declined in the big rivers like the Susky and Juniata - at least that's my impression. However, on smaller "trout" streams and local warm water creeks I still get rockies in many of the historic spots where I have always encountered them. They seem to relish woody cover and somewhat slower current than smallies. Tonight however, the rockies were in the riffles and very aggressive. Rock bass are impressed by size and prefer large nymphs or streamer flies. Once in a blue moon, they'll rise to a popper but my experience is they are predominately sub surface feeders. If you want to catch rockies, stick to larger flies at least 1.5 to 2 inches long. I've even caught rockies on musky lures longer than they were and they hit the lure anyway. They love nothing more than a black Wooly Bugger. Really, any dark fly with marabou will nail 'em.
Rock bass are often criticized as poor fighters and, to be sure, they don't jump like bass and trout. Nevertheless, a big moss backed 10" fish tonight pulled line from my reel. A big rockie over about 9" has some pull in him and when hooked will dog the bottom and pull hard. Rockies are gentlemanly fish and realizing when the game is up, they come to your hand like a good sport without a lot of undignified thrashing and histrionics.
Give these happy panfish a try. Kids love 'em too - and the creeks don't get too warm in the summer for these very cool fish.

Posted on: 2009/6/16 23:31


Re: Rock Bass Time!

Joined:
2006/9/18 8:28
From Attitudinally, one mile south of Lake LeBoeuf
Posts: 861
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Those are some interesting reflections and for the most part, reflect my experience with rock bass. Although I'm not sure I've ever hooked one that I would describe as fighting other than pretty much like a soaked gym sock with a little sand in it, other than some of the 12"-14" rockies we used to get out of Lake Erie while jigging a crawler/willow leaf rig on the drift for smallmouth and walleye.

They are a noble fish and a great way to calibrate (while fishing for smallmouth in flowing water) when you are working water with insufficient flow to interest or hold worthwhile bass.

They also seem a very gregarious fish. Once you find one, there are usually a lot more right there and you can often catch them until you're tired of it.

While not true of the lake Erie fish, most of the stream rockies in my native NW are to a greater or lesser degree hosts for some sort of parasite that hangs off their sides and looks a little like a short, narrow icicle. Each fish will have from 2-6 of these hanging off their flanks. I had an Erie County Dep't of Health biologist tell me that they were an early state in the life cycle of a species of freshwater clam. This made sense to me given that most of the rock bass I caught came out of the French Creek drainage which has (or had) an exceptional variety of freshwater clams due to fertility, geological luck and the stream's positioning sort of on the cusp of the breakline between eastern and midwestern species of a lot of different aquatic critters.

Even though clams and rock bass are both eminently edible, this icicle thing always put me off a little when it came to taking my stream rockies home to fry up. I've eaten a pile of them out of Lake Erie though.

A very noble fish though, especially for a gym sock with fins...:)

Posted on: 2009/6/17 12:41


Re: Rock Bass Time!

Joined:
2009/5/8 23:25
Posts: 313
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When I catch them in larger waters like the Susky, it's always around large, dike-boulders. They seem to like my white marabous twitched-they can't resist. As for my experience regarding their fighting ability, I seem to remember being surprised, and don't think I had any wet sock fights.

Posted on: 2009/6/19 14:54






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