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Smallmouth Bass Vs. Redeye Bass(Rock Bass)


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I've recently caught fish I believed to be smallmouth bass and released them based on that, but a couple of them had red eyes. I'm now wondering if they were rockbass instead. How would one know for sure. Are the red eyes a sure sign? Also, do rock bass fall under the category of sun fish as far as limits go? I read via Wikipedia they are in the sun fish family. Really curious to get an answer on identifying them and the classification. It would be nice to stop throwing all the fish I catch back and eat one for a change. I'm starting to get hungry haha

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Smallmouth have red eyes too. Big difference is rockbass are shaped like a sunfish. Short and stubby with deep bodies.

The smallies on the other hand, have that long stocky bass look of course... always noticiably longer than they are deep... even the small ones.

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I once read an American study that showed Smallmouth bass that lived in a river/flowing creek environment had red eyes more so than there lake-bound brothers.... diet played a role

Topwaterjoe gives a good description and the link helps for sure, once you play around with both species for a day you will have no problem figuring out which is which and when one has a season we must respect it is imperative we know the difference as is your concern

good luck to you kind sir!

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I suppose it's just a matter of experience. Do rock bass always have red eyes, and smallies sometimes have them? It gets confusing with the body shapes too as I've seen pictures supposedly of rock bass that are slender and pictures of smallies with red eyes that are fat and stocky. I noticed on the fish facts link above for the rock bass that there are spine counts, would that be a definitive characteristic. Or does counting fin spines not help since it varies? I just want to be completely confident in my ID of the fish before I batter them up and fry then in garlic butter :)

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....of all the fish species I have seen over the years that people confuse, this is a first for me, now having said that, yes, you are new to fishing but maybe you are overthinking it a little, i have yet to see a slender rock bass or one that even looks closely like a smallmouth.... now comparing warmouth to rock bass or largemouth to smallmouth on rare occaision...

i bet that once you get out there and catch both in an afternoon it is going to hit you immediately how easily they are to ID and differentiate... rockies being stout, wide, "finny", never jump, reel in in a "circular" motion when jigged vertically....

Snags links are a fantastic resource

now go forth and have fun!

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OK, from what you guys are telling me, when i get a rock bass on the line it will be obvious to me. and roundish. its kinda funny that when you google 'rock bass' you end up getting some pictures of bass guitars hahah. as far as classifications go though, they are in the sunfish family? meaning if I was 'lucky' enough to catch 100 of them in a day that would be my limit?

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Rock bass easy to clean with out bones, I have had no problem anyway, I use an electric knife and skin them. I find Rock bass better to eat than anything you buy at the store, may not be every ones first choice, Fry em fresh and they are very tasty.... Have fun.

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I have a Chinese friend who will take a steamed crappie over any other fish. Apparently he only uses a bit of soy sauce for seasoning. I've never targeted them before though.

I heard good things about bluegill but I've never caught one big enough to eat on good conscious.

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