In a species of fish with red eyes, it’s a wonder as to why this one earned the title of Redeye bass. For most anglers, the distinction between a redeye bass and many other species of bass is impossible to find. However, if you look close enough, you’ll be able to notice the different colors on the second dorsal fin, tail fin, and anal fins.
So, What is a Redeye Bass?
If you’re ever out hunting for this ambush predator, it’ll pay to come equipped with a few facts about them. Otherwise, you could be left fishing in the completely wrong waters with no chance of bringing one in.
So, let’s start with the basics: what is a redeye bass?
Essentially, the redeye is a smaller species of bass that tends to prefer smaller bodies of water that host plenty of ambushing points for easier hunting. They are distinguishable by their brick-red fin coloring.
These small bass tend to be simple to find if you know where to look. Whereas their more popular largemouth and smallmouth cousins tend to occupy larger bodies of water, you’re more likely to encounter a redeye bass at the mouth of a creek than you are in a river or lake. If your goal is to bring in a redeye bass to round out your bass fishing portfolio, then you’ll need to start in the right location and bring along the right tools for the job.
But even once you’re in the right spot, with the right gear, and using the right fishing techniques, how do you know you’re pulling in a redeye bass rather than its similar cousins? That’s where knowing how to identify a redeye bass comes in handy. Once you’re out on the water, it can be difficult to spot the difference between a redeye bass and a Bartram’s bass. By understanding the key differences, you’ll be able to identify the bass type in no time.
Identifying a Redeye Bass
There are a few key characteristics that you’ll need to make note of when attempting to identify the species of bass. For the most part, you’re going to find similar colors and patterns on the scales of the bass, though looking closer, the differences will be stark. However, when out on the water, the pattern of the scales can be difficult to discern due to light distortion. The next feature you’ll want to look at will be the fins. For a redeye bass specifically, the fins host a brick-red coloring.
This red coloring extends to the edges but is met with a white outline. This can easily be confused with the Chattahoochee bass which has a bright red coloring to the fins. You’re looking for a more muted, pale red that’s surrounded by a white outline on the redeye bass. As for their scale design and coloring, you’ll notice the typical pale green top and white bellies on the redeye bass. You’ll also find a row of dark blotches along their sides. These will disappear with age.
If you’re still unsure of the type of bass once you’ve caught it, you can look for another identifying factor that isn’t present on other species of bass. If the fish you caught is in fact a redeye bass, then you’ll notice anywhere from 9 to 11 spines on their dorsal fin along with 11 to 13 rays. The areas between are only slightly notched whereas many other species of bass have folds with heavy divots in between. On the anal fin, there are three spines and 9 to 11 rays.
This slender fish, like many other species of bass, doesn’t have a jaw that extends past the eyes. The dorsal fin on this species is continuous into the secondary dorsal fin. As far as size goes, you’re looking at a pretty small species of fish coming in at anywhere from 5-16 inches for a fully grown adult. Most anglers rely on the coloring of the fins to identify the redeye bass, but these other characteristics can help you out if you’re still stuck.
Where to Find a Redeye Bass
The best place to locate a redeye bass will be in any streams or small rivers that aren’t too deep or wide. For the most part, the redeye bass prefers the comfort of these small to medium-sized upland streams as it provides simple hunting for their size. Other species of bass are able to transition into these larger bodies of water as they can easily hold their own, but the redeye bass is a smaller species of bass that has to rely on finding food it can easily eat.
Once you’re in a smaller stream that’s known locally for having a redeye bass presence – this information can be found through state-specific searches – you can find the specific spots where redeye bass are most likely to be found. As an ambush fish, the redeye will likely be reserved to underwater vegetation as it helps to conceal their exact location. Search for any downed trees or growth at the bottom of the stream as this is where the redeye bass makes their hunting grounds.
Juvenile redeye bass can be found along sandy or gravel bottoms near the surface. This is where the redeye bass eggs hatch and so you’re likely to encounter many young redeye in these spots. Spawning of young redeye bass will take place anywhere from April to June, and they’ll soon be out hunting alongside the adults. In very rare instances, a redeye bass could be spotted in a larger river, but searching for underwater vegetation will still be your best bet for finding them.
How to Catch a Redeye Bass
Patience is key when searching for a redeye bass. Use their hunting techniques to your advantage and make note of where the most likely spot to encounter the redeye bass will be. Find any underwater vegetation that could be a good spot for a redeye hunting ground and cast your lure around there. By making note of where the redeye bass is most likely to be located, you can easily lure them out by placing your lure just outside of the underwater vegetation.
Once you’ve got them out, they’ll take your bait – if it’s to their liking – and the reeling in process will be simple. They aren’t a large fish, but they’re still a bass so you’ll be up against a decent fight. The redeye bass is one of the best game fish found in streams and smaller rivers as they give a decent fight and require you to make note of their hunting patterns. Once you’ve drawn them out, they should stand no chance if you’ve brought the right gear.
Catching the redeye bass, as with most fish, will be done before you even get on the shore. The best strategy is to prepare beforehand and to decide your best route before you even set out with your gear. Find the best location before you leave the house and make sure you come equipped with the right food for the job. If you’re not in the right spot, catching the redeye bass will be impossible. The same goes for the food you bring along. So, what food makes for a great redeye bass bait?
What is the Diet of a Redeye Bass?
These are a smaller species of bass, so coming equipped with food that accommodates their size is your best bet. Due to their limited mouth size, a redeye bass can only eat prey that is smaller than they are which limits them to the diet they can have. They are in no way the apex predator of the streams they occupy, and mostly go for the insects that dot the surface. Minnows are another delicacy that makes up their diet.
We recommend bringing along some minnows as bait, or even small worms that you feel could fit the mouth of the redeye bass. Some plastic lures will work well for drawing the bass out, but the live bait will have a higher chance of working in your favor. Redeye bass are in no way picky – as long as the food is living and small enough not to eat them first, you’re likely to draw them out from their elusive hunting grounds.
Don’t let their size trick you. The redeye bass, though only 16-inches at most, can be a scrappy fighter. You won’t need too strong of a line, but you don’t want to get caught off guard by a sudden tug which leads to your 10-lb line snapping and your lure being lost along with your chances of catching the redeye bass.
The redeye bass, though difficult to identify at first glance, is a unique and fascinating species of bass that will be found all across streams in North America. If you’re looking for a fun catch, or simply to do some fish watching at your local stream, then the redeye bass is a fun and easy target to start off with.