Redeye "Coosa" Bass - Micropterus coosae
(This page was last updated - 06/20/2007)
Scientific name: Micropterus coosae (Micropterus = "torn fin ", coosae = "in reference to the Coosa River")
Common names: redeye bass, Coosa bass
A typical redeye bass from the Cumberland Plateau - photo by Jim Negus
Redeye or "Coosa" bass is the smallest of the four species of black bass found in Tennessee. They prefer upland streams and are not common in our reservoirs or lakes. Redeye are native only to the Conasauga River drainage in southeast Tennessee, but have been introduced into several streams on the Cumberland Plateau and the Hiwassee River system.
The Tennessee state angling record taken from Parksville Reservoir in 1991 weighed almost 2 pounds.
Redeye bass have characteristics common to both spotted and smallmouth bass. Anglers unfamiliar with this beautiful fish might mistake it as a hybrid of those more familiar species. The distributional range of redeye bass is very limited, however, and should be factored heavily into the identification process.
Redeye have small jaws that do not extend past the eye and a high bridge between the spiny and soft dorsal fins, two characters also common to smallmouth and spotted bass. They do not have the dark mid-lateral band of pigmentation seen with largemouth and spotted bass. They typically have a very characteristic white margin on their soft dorsal, tail, and anal fins.
If one catches a small bass in a stream on the Cumberland Plateau or in very southeastern Tennessee that looks like a hybrid spotted x smallmouth bass, but has white margins on its fins, it is likely a "Coosa" bass. See the bass identification page for reference.
An Otter Creek TN redeye bass - photo by Jim Negus
This is a rather secretive fish that is usually found close to various types of cover. They can be caught on a variety of small grubs and tiny roostertail spinners.
Redeye that were introduced to the Cumberland Plateau occasionally hybridize with smallmouth bass.
Spawning occurs from April to June. Males construct shallow depressions in coarse gravel at the upstream end of pools. Males remain at the nest until the fry have dispersed.
Several streams of the Cumberland Plateau and Eastern Highland Rim were stocked with redeye bass beginning in the 1950s. They were also introduced into streams within the Hiwassee River system back in the 1940s.
Facial characteristics of a redeye bass - photo by Jim Negus
Etnier, D. and W. Starnes. 1993. The Fishes of Tennessee. The University of Tennessee Press.