Subscribe | E-Editions | River News 75 | Super Shopper - FREE | About Us | Contact Us | FREE Classified Items Under $50
The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

Flanders Realty Group

home : outdoors : outdoor news August 18, 2017

1/7/2017 7:25:00 AM
The lake where you live
The bass that isn't
Ted Rulseh
Columnist

Rock bass are present in many of our Wisconsin lakes. They are aggressive feeders. They are often found out in the same kinds of habitat as smallmouth bass. One thing they are not is bass. They are actually members of the sunfish family, with bluegills and pumpkinseeds.

Rock bass (sometimes called rock sunfish, goggle-eye and redeye) look something like a cross between a bass and a bluegill. They're thicker through the body than bluegills (though not as thick as a bass). The general body shape is longer than a bluegill's, but more oval-shaped than a bass. The mouth isn't small and roundish like a bluegill's; it resembles that of a bass, though it's not proportionally as big.

Like their panfish cousins, rock bass have a two-part dorsal fin, a spiny portion fore and a soft-rayed portion aft. Perhaps the most interesting thing about rock bass is their coloring. The eyes are usually bright red. The belly is white; the body ranges from golden brown to olive with rows of black dots. The sides often have a mottled pattern that can vary greatly from one fish to another.

Anglers often catch rock bass when pursuing smallmouth bass. They tend to bite aggressively but after an initial surge don't put up much of a fight. They let themselves be reeled in, as if saying, "Fine, you caught me, just get this hook out and let me go." And most anglers do release them. They're not bad to eat, but they're far less tasty than bluegills or crappies. As the water gets warm in summer, their flesh can get rather mushy.

You'll find rock bass living in groups, mostly in cooler, clearer lakes, in areas with gravel or rocky bottoms. Submerged logs and brush are added attractions. They feed on underwater insects, crayfish and small fish, including their own. Sometimes they rise to pluck bugs off the water's surface. They tend to eat heavily the early morning and the evening.

Because they're known to eat on days when nothing else will, they've been known to help anglers avoid getting skunked. For the same reason, they can be a good species to target when fishing with kids, for whom it's all about numbers, not size.

Speaking of which, rock bass get a bit bigger (and heavier) than bluegills or pumpkinseeds. They average about six to eight inches long; some can grow to as long as a foot, but that's a rarity, especially in colder northern waters.

Rockies, in the manner of other sunfish species, spawn in late spring, males fanning out nests over shallow, gravelly areas and guarding the nests aggressively. Usually several nests can be found close together. Once hatched, the young rock bass are prey for bass, northern pike and, to a lesser extent, walleyes.

An interesting quality of rock bass is that they can quickly change color to silvery or blackish to match their surroundings. They are actually quite beautiful when lifted from the water, even more so if by chance you observe them while snorkeling.

Ted Rulseh, who lives on Birch Lake in Harshaw, is the author of the "The Lake Where You Live," a blog where readers can learn about the lakes they love - the history, geology, biology, chemistry, physics, magic, charm. Visit lakewhereyoulive.blogspot.com. Ted may be reached at trulseh@tjrcommunications.com.





Article Comment Submission Form
Please feel free to submit your comments.

Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, and meet the comment guidelines (see "Comment Guidelines" at right). There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it.

Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number and email address is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Required
Last Name:
Required
Telephone:
Required
Email:
Required
Comment:
Required
Passcode:
Required
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.
   


Advanced Search
search sponsored by



Subscription Login
LOGIN | SUBSCRIBE


Today's Circulars
Print-N-Save Coupons
Order photo reprints

Classifieds
Advertising Information

Community Connections
Submit to Newspaper...

Ced Vig's books for sale
Kris Gilbertson's 'I Recall...'

Marshfield Clinic - 1
Twitter









Facebook | All Things | Wisconsin Lottery | The Lakeland Times - affiliate | Winter Road Conditions | Snow/Trail Conditions


The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC
232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361

Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121
Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce

Site Design and Content | Copyright 2017 1up!

Software © 1998-2017 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved