Redeye Bass – (Micropterus coosae)
CHARACTERISTICS: The redeye or Coosa bass is an elongate, slender fish with a large mouth that extends to or slightly behind the rear margin of the eye. The dorsal fin contains 9 to 11 (usually 10) spines and 11 to 13 (usually 12) rays, and the area between the two is only slightly notched. The anal fin contains three spines and nine to 11 (usually 10) rays. The complete lateral line has from 63 to 74 scales. Scales above the lateral line number 12 or 13. A small tooth patch is present on the tongue. The back and sides are generally olive to brown with darker brown mottling. Adults have several horizontal rows of dark spots on the lower sides and venter. Breeding males have a light bluish green color on the lower head and throat. On juveniles, the sides of the body usually have 10 to 12 dark blotches that do not join to form a lateral stripe. The upper and lower margins of the caudal fin are edged in white, a useful feature for separating redeye bass from other bass.
ADULT SIZE: 14 to 17 inches (356 to 432 mm).
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: The redeye inhabits small to medium-sized upland streams and only rarely large rivers and impoundments. It is often found in water willow (Justicia) or other aquatic vegetation, near a submerged stump or boulder, or along an undercut bank. Juveniles occur in shallow runs and riffles over sand and gravel substrates. Spawning occurs from April to June. Diet includes aquatic and terrestrial insects, crayfishes, and small fishes.
Micropterus means small fin.
Coosae means Coosa River.
Common Names – Coosa bass, shoal bass, Flint River smallmouth, Chipola bass, black bass. NOTE: Redeye bass may not exist in Florida have been found in the Apalachicola River.
Description – The red color of eyes and fins easily separates this species from other bass. Suwannee and shoal bass also have red eyes but generally have less red on fins. Redeye bass generally are brownish to greenish in color with vertical bars with light centers along their sides and are bronze-olive above, dark olive mottling, yellow-white to blue below. Has a prominent dark spot on the gill cover. Has scales on the base portion of the soft-rayed dorsal fins, clearly connected first and second dorsal fins, and an upper jaw bone that does not extend beyond the eyes.
Subspecies – No known subspecies. There were two widely recognized forms: the Apalachicola form, now separately described as the species–shoal bass, and the Alabama form which remains classified as a redeye bass.
Range – The redeye bass of Alabama and Georgia is so rare in Florida that it is not considered a resident fish here.
Habitat – Likely to be found in rocky runs, pools of creeks and small to medium rivers close to main-channel habitat. They are seldom found in natural lakes, pond or impoundments. Prefers a water temperature of about 65 degrees. Shoal bass in the Chipola River are closely associated with rock shoals and is uncommon in other habitats.
Spawning Habits – Redeye bass spawn in coarse gravel at the heads of creek pools in late May to early July. Will not spawn in ponds or lakes. Prefers spawning temperature of 62 to 69 degrees. Like the largemouth the male prepares the nest and guards the eggs and fry.
Age and Growth – The growth rate of redeye bass is slow when compared to other species of black bass. Growth is fast the first year but decreases as the fish becomes older. Shoal bass grow much faster than redeye bass.
Sporting Quality – Is a good game fish and a scrappy fighter that is often difficult to catch. They can be caught on worms, minnows, or crayfish as well as small spinners and a wide variety of small surface lures. Some have been known to reach more than eight pounds.
Eating Quality – Good. Has white, flaky meat and tends to be drier than that of a largemouth.
World Record – 8 pounds, 3 ounces, caught in the Flint River, Georgia in 1977. This fish was actually a shoal bass.
State Record – A fish weighing 7 pounds, 13-1/4 ounces was caught in the Apalachicola River in 1989; however, the identification is controversial. (Please check link for updates)