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Lake sturgeon
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Rock bass
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Ontario Bass Fishing

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Rock Bass

Ambloplites rupestris.   The rock bass is a member of the sunfish family, and is characterized by having a more or less deep, flattened, oblong body, but not quite as deep as the sunfish, and somewhat thicker than that of the sunfish or crappie. The dorsal fin consists of two confluent parts, an anterior part consisting of eleven sharp spines, and a posterior part of soft rays. There are six spines in the anal lin. The number of spines in these fins may be used to distinguish the rock bass from other members of the family. Coloration may be described as various shades of olive green with brassy or coppery reflections.

On the tip of each scale, there is a little black spot which gives the appearance or effect of a series of stripes the full length of the body. The young are pale or yellowish green, irregularly barred and blotched with black. It may be of further interest to note that the iris of the eye is red, hence the common name, red eye,
which is used in Kentucky and in other states of the middle west. The mouth is large and well supplied with teeth.

The rock bass is widely distributed from Manitoba and the Red River drainage of North Dakota through all the Great Lakes, north to Lake Abitibi in the east and the English River in the west, through the St. Lawrence River to Quebec, and to Lake Champlain, southward, west of the Appalachian Divide to the Tennessee River drainage to the Ozark region in northern Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, intergrading in southeastern Missouri and eastern Arkansas with the Gulf Coast form.

It is usually found in clear-flowing streams where there are plenty of rocks, submerged logs or other obstructions which furnish cover, and in cool, weedy lakes of moderate size. It is commonly found in the same waters with smallmouth bass and pumpkinseed sunfish.

Rock Bass

It travels in schools and congregates about rock situations, gravel bars and in the vicinity of weed patches and under docks

In nest building, the male fans out sediment and debris with his fins and scoops out a basin-like depression (about eight or 10 inches in diameter) with his tail. Nests are placed near the shore in some gravelly or sandy bar, often in only a few inches of water which usually flows more swiftly than that selected by smallmouth bass.  ln our latitude spawning occurs. for the most part, during the month of June when water temperatures range from 60°F. to 70°F. During the spawning process, the two fish lie side by side in the nest. Only a few eggs are extruded at a time and at each period, milt is extruded by the male. The operations continue for an hour or more and, at the end of the period, the female leaves the nest and does not return

As in other members of the family, the eggs are adhesive. Females lay an average of 5,000 eggs but as many as 6,000 to 9,000 have been observed. Females weighing four to eight ounces lay an average of 3,000 eggs; those weighing eight to 12 ounces, an average of 5,000 eggs.  Sediment settling on the eggs is avoided by the constant fanning of the fins. Soon after the eggs are hatched, the fry gradually rise from the nest and are guarded by the male fish in somewhat the same manner as the male small mouth and largemouth bass.

Aquatic insects, crayfish and small fish constitute the principal foods of the rock bass. It is usually found in the same habitat (rocky areas of streams and lakes) with smallmouth bass and its food does not differ greatly from that of the latter. It is customary to catch large numbers of rock bass in June and throughout the summer over rocky reefs, where crayfish abound. An examination of the rock bass stomachs during this period will reveal abundant remains of crayfish. When mayfly hatching is on, rock bass may be seen rising to the surface until dark. Rock bass are somewhat cannibalistic and will prey upon their young at times.

The rock bass is a joy to the school boy for it rarely refuses a bait, even when offered upon the coarsest tackle. Because of its fighting qualities and its tendencies to take an artificial lure, it may be classed as a sporting fish. It bites at any time during the day or night, on live bait or artificial lures, and it may afford considerable sport with light tackle. The selection of a suitable live bait should not present a serious problem because of the variety that may be used.



Ontario Fishing Magazine