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I’ve been catching Rock Bass since I can remember. The first fish I ever caught in my life was a Rock Bass. Belonging to the family, Centrarchidae, our local waters here in the middle Tennessee region are home to many Rock Bass. Sometimes, during a fishing trip, nothing will bite except for this particular fish. The red eyes, and the short, stocky body all make this particular species a solid fighter and a fish that is tremendously fun to catch.

According to research, the Rock Bass is intolerant of pollution, and therefore used as a biological indicator to assess the health of a stream. In my particular home water, I would judge our streams and creeks are quite healthy based on the seemingly large population of Rock Bass.

Rock Bass are not large fish. In general, a large Rock Bass would be in the 10-11” size range. In Tennessee where I live, if you are fortunate enough to catch a Rock Bass that is 10” or more, you may qualify for a Tennessee Angler Recognition Program certificate. The angler must provide proof of the catch to the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency by completing a form with information about the fish such as where it was caught, was it released, and its size. A photo of the catch must also be sent along to verify the catch and measurements unless there is a witness who may sign off on the form. I currently have three certificates with one on the way after a recent catch which yielded a Rock Bass of 10”.

You may be wondering, what do Rock Bass like to eat? When fishing for these stout little fish, I have had good success in using something known to many fishermen as the “Ned Rig.” The Ned Rig is a very simple set up which equates to a hook with a weighted head, and a short, usually blunt-shaped soft plastic. There are many varieties of Ned Rig worms on the market. I have a few favorites that I consistently use. I try to pick colors that match what the Rock Bass may be eating at the time and are visible to the fish. Colors that work well in my area are natural, shad-like colors, as well as green pumpkin or purple.

When fishing the Ned Rig, I tend to use a Medium Light fishing rod, 6 or 8 lb monofilament line, and a spinning reel. I have also had good success with a Light Action rod with 4 lb fluorocarbon line when fishing for Rock Bass. Catching a Rock Bass on a Light Action rod is so much fun! It feels as if an absolute giant is on the end of the line!

Catching big fish is always thrilling, but when the bite is slow and there isn’t much else biting, try catching a Rock Bass!


Courtney Bennett