What Are Redeye Bass? How to Find and Identify Them

Redeye bass, also known as Coosa bass, Warrior bass, Bartram’s bass, and more, are a species of freshwater fish commonly found throughout the southeastern United States. While not as well …

Redeye bass, also known as Coosa bass, Warrior bass, Bartram’s bass, and more, are a species of freshwater fish commonly found throughout the southeastern United States. While not as well known as other bass species like largemouth or smallmouth bass, they are a popular target for many anglers due to their unique appearance and fighting ability. 

These unique-looking bass are known for their reddish-orange eyes, dark greenish-brown coloration, and distinct vertical spotting and mottled color along their sides. In this article, we will take a closer look at what makes redeye bass truly unique and how you can easily identify and find them in their natural habitats in the wild.

What Is a Redeye Bass?

redeye bass
Coosa bass have red eyes, reddish-orange fins, and gill covers and inhabit clear, rocky streams and rivers.

Coosa bass are a species of freshwater fish native to the southeastern United States. They are a member of the sunfish family and are closely related to species such as bluegill, smallmouth, largemouth, and other black bass. 

These unique-looking fish are typically smaller than largemouth, with adults reaching a maximum length of about 17 inches. They have distinctive red eyes and reddish-orange coloration on their fins and gill cover, also called the operculum. 

Micropterus coosae, their scientific name, prefers clear and rocky streams and rivers with moderate to fast currents. They are known for their willingness to bite on artificial lures, making them a popular target for sport fishing for both experienced adults, inexperienced adults, and children.

How to Identify Redeye Bass

Vs Largemouth Bass

Redeye and largemouth bass can look similar, but there are a few key differences that can help you tell them apart. 

First, redeye are typically smaller in size, with an average weight of around 2 pounds. Largemouth, in comparison, are much larger and bulkier in body size and shape and usually weigh around 5 pounds. 

Redeyes have a distinctive reddish color around their eyes and on their lower fins and caudal fin, which is where they get their name. Largemouth have a greenish color and a distinctive black stripe running along their sides, with the upper and lower edges of their dorsal fin and anal fin being dark brown or black in color. 

Vs Smallmouth Bass

While Micropterus coosae and smallmouth share some physical characteristics, there are several ways to tell the two species apart. 

The most noticeable difference is in their coloration, with redeye having bright red or dark orange eyes and a series of dark, irregular spots along their sides, while smallmouth bass have vertical black bars on their sides and can be found in a light bluish-green color. 

When it comes to body shape, redeye bass generally have a shorter, more rounded body shape similar to perch compared to the longer, more streamlined body of smallmouth bass. 

Vs Shoal Bass and Other Species

Redeye and shoal bass are both native to the southeastern United States and can be found in the same Coosa River system and surrounding streams which can make it difficult for you to tell them apart. 

Redeye bass have a slightly smaller mouth and a more pronounced lower jaw compared to shoal bass. The spots on a redeye are often more concentrated towards the tail blending into a mottled or peppered coloration, while the dark spots and bars on a shoal bass are more evenly distributed, thicker, and highly noticeable. 

Additionally, the complete lateral line on a redeye is usually more curved, while the lateral line on a shoal bass is much straighter and can be thicker as well. When compared to other species, redeyes can be identified by their red or orange eyes, a key feature that sets them apart from other bass species, such as largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and spotted bass, among others.

Different Redeye Bass Species

There are several different species and subspecies of this slender fish, all of which are native to the southeastern United States. These species include the Coosa Redeye, the Chattahoochee Redeye, the Tallapoosa Redeye, the Bartram’s Redeye, and the Warrior Redeye Bass. 

Each of these species has unique physical characteristics and can be found in specific river systems within the southeastern region which is normally how they get their names.

The Coosa Redeye, for example, is only found within the Coosa River system and has a distinct spotted pattern, and is known for its aggressive behavior. The Chattahoochee Redeye Bass has a more muted, darker brown mottling coloration and is often found in clear, fast-moving water along the Chattahoochee River system and basin.

Where Do You Find Redeye Bass: Range and Distribution

redeye bass 1
Redeye bass inhabit rocky, clear freshwater systems in the southeastern US, with temperatures between 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Redeye bass are primarily found in freshwater systems in the southeast region. The range includes parts of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi. 

They are typically found in small to medium-sized streams and rivers that are rocky and clear with moderate to swift currents, but only rarely large rivers. Redeye bass prefer clear, cool water with temperatures ranging from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, where there is an abundance of aquatic and terrestrial insects to make up the bulk of their diet. 

They are most commonly found in the upper reaches of streams and rivers, often in areas with abundant cover, such as submerged logs and boulders. In addition to natural freshwater systems, redeye bass have been introduced into some reservoirs and ponds for recreational fishing purposes.

How Big Do Redeye Bass Get?

Redeye bass are generally smaller in size than most other bass species, such as largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. They typically grow to be around 6-12 inches in length and weigh between 1 and 2 pounds

However, some specimens have been known to reach up to 4 pounds in weight, but this is extremely rare. The size of the fish can also vary depending on the location and habitat they are found.

In general, redeye bass are not known for being a large game fish, but they are still sought after by many experienced and new anglers due to their active fighting when hooked and their unique characteristics.

How Do You Catch Redeye Bass?

Redeye bass prefer clear streams and rivers with rocky and gravelly bottoms since this is where breeding males will make their nests, as well as moderate to fast-moving currents to keep oxygen levels high and help deliver food to ther area.

These small fishes can be caught using various fishing techniques such as fly fishing, spin fishing, and baitcasting. Small lures and baits such as jigs, spinners, and soft plastics work well when fishing for redeyes. In fact, redeyes are probably the most willing bass species to take soft plastic baits, making them an outstanding first-fish for children to catch.

It is also essential to use lightweight yet strong gear since redeye bass are small in size but are known for their aggressive fighting behavior once you have them on the line.

Can You Eat Redeye Bass?

redeye bass 2
Redeye bass, while edible, are less commonly consumed than other bass species due to their small size and abundance of pin bones.

Redeye bass can be eaten, but they are generally not as commonly consumed as other bass species, such as largemouth bass or smallmouth bass. 

Since they have a relatively small body size compared to other game fish species, there can be an abundance of pin bones which is annoying to pick out of filets prior to cooking or consuming. However, the flesh is often described as firm and white, with a mild taste that many anglers love. 

In most cases, due to their small size and abundance of bones, redeye bass are almost always just released back into the water after being caught as a part of the catch-and-release program to protect their populations in the wild.

Redeye Bass Spawning

Redeye bass typically spawn during late spring and early summer when water temperatures reach around 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and aquatic vegetation is thick.

Breeding males will move into shallow water areas of only a few rivers and create nests in coarse gravel beds by fanning out small depressions with their pectoral and anal fins.

Females will then deposit their eggs in these nests, which the males will fertilize and guard until they hatch in about a week. Spawning occurs quickly, and the females move back into deeper water without any interest in caring for their eggs or fry.

After hatching, the male will continue to guard the fry until they are able to swim on their own. During this time, they will feed on small organisms like plankton and insects. Redeye bass typically reach sexual maturity by the age of two or three and can live up to eight years in the wild.

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Jeff Knapp is an expert fisherman, guide and outdoor writer whose work is widely published across a range of sites including Tackle Village. Jeff is based in Pennsylvania and loves exploring the waterways of that state in pursuit of smallmouth bass, largemouth, panfish and trout.
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