The Redeye Bass
The Redeye Bass (Micropterus coosae) is also known as a Coosa Bass, though there is discussion among ichthyologists that the Redeye Bass group should be broken into several species. The Redeye Bass is similar to the Shoal Bass of the Chattahoochee River drainage. Both species are black bass that includes Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass, which is in the Sunfish family (Centrarchidae) of order Perciformes.
The Redeye Bass is native to only a few rivers in western South Carolina, southwestern North Carolina and portions of Georgia and Alabama. It prefers cool streams and rivers in the foothills of mountains and is a big eater of insects more than any other bass. Perhaps this might explain why it is slow growing, but with a maximum age of 10 years, it is not the shortest lived of the bass family.
We at Bass Fishing Gurus constantly get asked why we refer to many bass as being members of the sunfish family. Part of the reason for this confusion is how we discus the name of the fish and its family. The Centrarchidae family is commonly referred to as the sunfish family. Other common members of the sunfish family include:
- Black Crappie (Pomoxis negromaculatus)
- Bluegill Sunfish (Lepomis macrochirus)
- Bluespotted Sunfish (Enneacanthus gloriosus)
- Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus)
- Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides)
- Longear Sunfish (Lepomis megalotis)
- Mud Sunfish (Acantharchus pomotis)
- Pumpkinseed Sunfish (Lepomis gibbosus)
- Rock Bass (Ambloplites rupestris)
- Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieui)
There are many comminalities with the sunfish family. They are generally deep bodies and compressed laterally, which makes them well designed to lay in wait and ambus their prey. Most of them are panfish sized with the exception of the Largemouth Bass and the Smallmouth Bass.
When most people think of sunfish, the longear Sunfish comes to mind. And yes, most members of the sunfish family look more like the Longear than the Smallmouth Bass or the Redeye Bass.
There are other basses with distributions not that much bigger. The Australian Bass can only be found along the southeastern coast of Australia in rivers, streams and estuaries connected to the ocean. The Kelp bass can be found in a narrow band along the coast of North America. And then there is the Guadalupe Bass, found mainly in the catchment of the Guadalupe river. Only the Roanoke Bass has a smaller distribution.
Unfortunately for the Redeye Bass, it competes poorly with other bass and that is due partly because it does not fair well in lakes or wide rivers. As a result, their numbers have fallen dangerously close to the endangered list and several efforts have been made to restock the redeye bass in several watersheds of which some it has done rather well and others it has died out or done poorly.
Due to their limited range and small size, the Redeye Bass are not known to many American anglers and there is little to no sport market for the fish. However, they are a good fish for children as they won't pull their arms off when they strike unlike a good sized Striped Bass.
Catch and Release
Due to their limited numbers in a very small distribution, we encourage you to practice the catch and release program with the Redeye Bass until their numbers increase. The Redeye is not known for its culinary appeal so setting them free won't have you missing anything.