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Creek Fishing For An Elusive Beauty: Red Eye Bass

After a decades-long absence, I started fishing again a few years ago. Having a young son means teaching valuable skills for later use, and what is more valuable than a method of food gathering, especially when that method is equally fun, exciting, and relaxing, often all at the same time?

The Deep South offers a great variety of fish species to angle for, from hand-size pan fish to monster catfish weighing in the hundreds of pounds. The pond I fish from at the local park is home to bluegill, small and large mouth bass, black and white crappie, carp and catfish, making representative of the most common local species in one pond. However, there is another bass species I've caught there, in a place it doesn't really belong. The species is the red eye bass, or rock bass.
Not my catch, not my photo. Holding a fish in this manner is likely to break its jaw; don't do it
The smallest member of the bass family, the red eye (my preferred name for it; why must Southerners have multiple names for one species of fish? I'm looking at you, bluegill/bream) makes its home in cool streams and rivers in Georgia and Alabama, a bass that lives in trout environs, one might say. This makes my catching one in a pond all the more interesting. The fish derives its name from its large red eyes. It is a beautiful creature to behold.

When angling for red eye, I use a lightweight spinning combo with jigs and small crawfish soft baits. Worms, both real and artificial, work well too. I prefer a telescopic rod for ease of carry, as some light hiking is required to get to my favorite fishing spot. As a catch and release fisherman, I'm always careful with regard to the health of the fish, and as something of an animist, I often thank the creature for its role in keeping me sane.

Now get out there!

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