There are two widely recognized forms of this member of the black bass group of the Centrarchidae family: the Apalachicola, which is called a shoal bass, and the Alabama, which is generally referred to as the redeye bass or the true redeye.
The shoal bass has yet to be described fully or given a distinct scientific name, and there is some confusion over the two. A scrappy fighter, the redeye bass often jumps when hooked and is hard to catch. Its white, flaky meat is of good table quality, similar to that of other black bass.
IdentificationAs its name indicates, the redeye bass is characterized by the considerable amount of red in its eyes. It is bronze olive above, with brownish to greenish sides, and yellow-white to blue below, usually with dark vertical bars on the ﬂanks. The bars on the caudal peduncle are diamond shaped with light centers.
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The redeye has redder ﬁns than do other black bass; the first and the second dorsal ﬁns are connected, and the second dorsal and the caudal fins and the front of the anal fin are brick red on young ﬁsh. There is a dusky spot on the base of the tail, which is also darkest on a young ﬁsh. There are 12 dorsal rays and 10 anal rays.
The shoal bass can normally be distinguished from the redeye bass by a prominent spot immediately before the tail and another on the edge of the gill cover, which is generally indistinct on the redeye. The shoal bass also lacks white outer edges on the tail, has smaller scales, and lacks the patch of teeth on the tongue. It has 12 to 13 dorsal rays and 10 to 11 anal rays.
Size/AgeThe redeye bass grows to 18.5 inches and about 3 pounds, although some reach more than 8 pounds and live as long as 10 years. The shoal form grows faster, although it generally reaches about 15 inches in length. The all-tackle world record is an 8-pound, 12-ounce ﬁsh taken in Florida in 1995.
SpawningSpawning occurs in spring, when water temperatures are between 60° and 70°F, usually over coarse gravel at the head of a pool. Males build the nest and guard the eggs and fry.
FoodRedeye feed primarily on terrestrial and larval insects, crayﬁsh, and small ﬁsh.
Other Namesblack bass, Coosa bass, shoal bass, Flint River smallmouth.
DistributionRedeye bass are found in the Alabama, the Savannah, the Coosa, the Chattahoochee, and the Warrior River systems in Georgia and Alabama, and in southeastern Tennessee (Conasauga drainage). They have been introduced to a limited degree in California, Puerto Rico, and Kentucky’s upper Cumberland River drainage.
Shoal bass occur in the Apalachicola River system in Florida and in the Chattahoochee, the Chestatee, and the Flint Rivers in Georgia.