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Part One Hundred-ten

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Fishing for Rock Bass

By Dick Sternberg and Bill Ignizio

When other fish stop biting, the feisty rock bass often says the day. One of the most aggressive panfish, it will strike a variety of baits and lures.

Rock Bass

As its name implies, the rock bass prefers rocky bottoms. But it also inhabits weedy or brush areas. In lakes, look for them around surmerged rock piles, on rocky points and along weedlines. In streams they prefer deep eddies with rocks or logs for cover.

The techniques used to sunfish in lakes work equally well for rock bass. In fact, many sunfish anglers consider rock bass to be pests, because they often beat sunfish to the bait. Rock bass have larger mouths than sunfish and require bigger hooks.

Stream fishermen usually drift downstream in a small boat or canoe until they spot a deep hole or eddy likely to hold rock bass. Many prefer to fish in waders so they can work a spot thoroughly. Some anglers tie the canoe to their waist and keep it in tow while they wade. Then, the can climb back in quickly and resume floating.

Many stream fishermen use hellgrammites, the larvae of the dobsonfly. One creel census on a midwestern stream found hellgrammites to be the most effective bait for rock bass, outfishing even worms and crayfish. [for the fly version see Delaware River Hellgrammite.]

Lures and baits for Rock bass include hellgrammite on #6 hook, leech on #8 hook, crayfish on #4 hook, poppers and streamers.

Unlike sunfish, rock bass rarely bite during the winter months. They begin feeding actively in spring, once the water has warmed to 50 degrees F. In lakes, fishing peaks during the spawning period when both males and females strike almost anything toss near them. The fish bite through summer, but are difficult to find because they scatter and form loose schools. In streams, rock bass are easier to find and catch during summer, when they concentrate in deep pools.

Rock bass bite best during the day. But in clearwater lakes, they may continue to feed for several hours after dark.

Credits: From The Freshwater Angler Panfish published by Cowles Creative Publishing, Inc. We appreciate use permission!

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