Discover Nature: Rock Bass

Apr 24, 2018

This week on Discover Nature, rock bass build nests for the spawning season. 

Rock bass, or goggle eye, are a species of heavy-bodied sunfish inhabiting many Ozark streams. Male rock bass are building nests for spawning this week as water temperatures warm.
Credit Missouri Department of Conservation

 

Closely related to shadow bass and Ozark bass, and collectively referred to as ‘goggle eye,’ none of these fish are true bass. 

 

Their greenish-olive to brassy color patterns with dark mottling and large mouths are reminiscent of bass, but goggle eye are all heavy-bodied sunfish species. 

 

In typical sunfish fashion, the male rock bass fans out a saucer-shaped depression about eight to ten inches wide on coarse sand or gravel, in water that’s one to five feet deep. 

 

The female visits the nest only when ready to deposit her eggs, but the male remains until the fry have dispersed. 

 

Rock bass typically grow to seven to eleven inches long and weigh a pound or less. Though the Missouri state record measured 17-inches long, and 2-pounds, 12-ounces. 

 

Their scientific name, Ambloplites rupestris means “blunt armature, living among the rocks.”

 

These vigorous carnivores prey on insects and small fish, foraging mostly at dusk and at night, and are a mainstay of the fishery in many Ozark streams. 

 

Learn more about rock bass, including how and where to fish for them with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.

 

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.