Best Redeye Bass Guide - How to catch the Bass with Red Eyes

Redeye Bass Guide How to catch the Bass with Red Eyes
November 7, 2022

The redeye bass is a unique type of bass that captures the hearts of many southern anglers. A majority of bass anglers will never have the opportunity to check this fish off of their list. You may have never even heard of redeye bass up until now.

There are many subspecies of bass that capture the attention of anglers all over the world. Smallmouth, largemouth, and spotted bass dominate the popularity in terms of bass fishing. However, there is one type that flies way too far under the radar, the redeye bass.

A lot of the time Redeyes get mistaken for other bass species like shoal and rock bass. So it its good to know the differences so you are able to identify the species of bass that you have caught.

To help you out, I have wrote this complete guide to redeye bass, including some standout features and the best ways to catch this amazing bass species! This will give you a great knowledge base to make the most out of any opportunity that may pop up. So let’s break it down.

What is a Redeye Bass

First and foremost, it is essential to know what a redeye bass is. If you are not from the south or do not know much about the bass subspecies, it is normal not to know much about them.

Also known as Coosa Bass, the redeye bass is from the black bass family. Which is also the family of Smallmouth and Largemouth bass.

What does a bass with Red Eyes Look Like?


Image sources: mountainmarsh

The redeye, also known as the Coosa bass, is a long, slender fish. Redeyes are part of the bass species with a wide mouth that reaches just below the rear edge of the eye.

Most notably, and obviously, redeyes have bright red eyes. Although some other normal sport fish including smallmouth have red eyes as well, these are distinctly bright and exaggerated.

Thinking redeyes are red-eyed rock bass or redeye smallmouth is pretty common, especially for beginners who are not quite capable of noticing the differences. After some experience examining these details, you will begin to notice the subtle differences. Redeyes are smaller, more compact bass with a fairly large mouth for its relative size.

The color is made up of olives, blacks, and light browns. They can be pointed out due to the interesting proportion between the mouth and the rest of the body. They have a distinctive light browny white belly color. Adult redeye bass have large dark circles on the sides of their bodies in horizontal rows on their lower sides that become less prominent with age. Adult males that are breeding normally have a  greeny-blue color under the throat and on the lower part of their head.

Young redeye bass have a slightly different appearance than the adults, their spots are more like blotches and they have around 9-13 of them. The young redeye spots do not meet or have the same natural line until they grow to become adults. Their dark blotches are much more pronounced and visible when they are young.

One of the most distinctive features of a bass with red eyes is the tail. Redeye bass have white tips at the ends of their fins.

Redeye bass anal in white

Typically, A redeye bass anal fin is composed of three spines and usually ten rays. Their dorsal fin has ten spines and twelve rays which only have a small bump between them.

Redeye bass typically has an average of 68 scales around the lateral line of the fish and 12 over the lateral line.

What is a Redeye Bass Size?

Redeye Bass Size

Another way to recognize a redeye is by its size. They are considerably smaller than some of the other subspecies. For example, largemouths can get over 10 pounds. Although rare, Huge largemouth are frequently caught, with the world record being well over 20 pounds. Even smallmouths can get over five pounds despite being known for holding a smaller body.

In terms of length, normal redeyes will be between 7 and 11 inches. If you can catch red eye bass that is 12 inches or more, you have a trophy on your hands. This is yet another way to identify redeye. Other types of bass have shorter bodies, but if you see a bass over 19 inches long, it is either a different type or you have a world record on your hands with the largest redeye bass setting a record at 19 inches (47cm).

However, redeyes are considerably smaller, with the record being just over three pounds.

Although in South Carolina on Lake Jocassee there was supposedly a Redeye caught over five pounds, many people in the space are skeptical of the claim. This was from a time when the shoal bass was called a Redeye bass and many believe this record fish was actually one of them.

Redeye Bass vs Rock Bass

Redeye Bass vs Rock Bass

The first thing to note between redeye bass and rock bass is their location. The redeye bass is a distinct species natively found in the Coosa basin river in the states of Georgia and Alabama. So if you caught a bass with red eyes in a different state they there is a very low chance of it being a redeye bass. Rock bass typically has "googly" eyes as they are referred to by locals who catch rock bass.

If the bass was not caught in the Coosa river system it is most certainly a rock bass and highly likely it was a red eye bass. Rock bass are much more round with a different pigment variation, whereas redeye bass are much more slim and small.

Shoal Bass vs Redeye Bass

Redeye Bass vs Shoal Bass

Shoal Bass are very similar to redeye bass at first glance. But on closer inspection, you will notice plenty of differences.

Redeye bass don't grow as big as shoal bass. The biggest shoal bass ever caught was at 8 pounds, 12 ounces in the Apalachicola River in Florida, 1977. This is much bigger than the record 3 pounds for the largest redeye bass. although both bass have shades of red in their fins, shoal bass don't have the white tint on the edges as the redeye bass do.

Redeye bass have teeth located on their tongue, where has the shoal bass do not.

If it was more than 3.5lbs, longer than 16inches and doesn't have teeth on its tongue then it wasn't a redeye bass.

If you are looking for any other Bass comparisons check out our links below:

Spotted Bass VS Largemouth Bass : The Key Differences

Smallmouth vs Largemouth Bass : The Differences

Redeye Bass Spawning

Redeye Bass Spawning Eggs

Redeye bass normally starts spawning in the middle of April. throughout the whole of may and can last until the start of June. The perfect water temperature for red eye bass to spawn is between 61 and 69 degrees Fahrenheit. That's the reason the spawning months for redeye bass can change, as it all depends on the temperature of the water.

The average redeye male is 3 and a half years old when they reach sexual maturity and have a greeny-blue color under the throat and on the lower part of their head. The male redeye bass builds a nest in the river bed ready for the female counterpart to lay the eggs. The nest for the redeye that the male chooses for the eggs is normally undercover and surrounded by thick plants and vegetation, to ensure maximum protection for the eggs.

Each female redeye bass lays around 2,000 eggs but can be as much as 3,000. The eggs are then protected and guarded against predators by the adult male redeye bass. The male redeye will become very defensive during the spawning season and will attack other species that come close to the nest.

After two to ten days the redeye eggs will hatch into fry and the male will protect the fry for up to an additional 2 weeks until they go on their own way.

Throughout the hatching period, the female red eye bass will leave the male to protect the eggs. The female redeye continues her time as normal but will stick around the area of the nest until all the fry has dispersed. The female will wander into the deeper parts of the river while the male stays in the shallow areas defending the eggs.

Where are Redeye Bass found?

Redeye Bass Coosa River Map

If you are a northern or international angler, you may have never heard of redeyes at all. If you fall into this category and ever have the chance at fishing down south, put this subspecies at the top of your bucket list.

You can find red eye bass in the Mobile and Coosa basins river. Based on these two main waterways are many creeks and small rivers that spread out into the area. Some examples include the Etowah River, Conasauga River, Ruff Creek, and many more. Bass with red eyes like the cooler temperatures of moving water, so it is unlikely that you will find them in huge lakes of water where the water is warmer. Foothills of Mountains is a popular spot due to the fast-paced water and the cool temperatures.

When you fish for redeye, target areas like you would for smallmouth bass. They love moving rivers, deep holes, and rocky structures. Targeting these areas can also produce some good redeye results.

Where Can I Fish for Redeye Bass?

Redeye bass mostly reside in the Mobile River and Coosa basins in southern states of America. With a length of 450km (280 miles) the Coosa river basin crosses through states Georgia and Alabama and is the tributary of the Alabama River. Many anglers have said that there is also redeye bass in states Kentucky, Florida, and North Carolina.

Although Alabama is known for its redeye population, Georgia is the epicenter of most of the action. Known as the “Black Bass Capital,” there are some great systems with redeyes as well.

Popular locations to fish among locals in Georgia are:


  • Chattahoochee National Forest Streams
  • Cohutta Wilderness area
  • John’s Creek  WMA
  • Otting Tract WMA
  • Coosawattee River
  • Rich Mountain WMA
  • Chattooga River

Just keep in mind that many areas will not have redeyes. To find a specific spot in your area, use Google and your local fishing shops to source more information and locations. Be sure that you don't trespass on private land if you do find an area of the river to fish. Check with local residents and tackleshops to see if you are allowed to the stretch of river you would like to fish.

How do you Catch Redeye Bass?

Redeye is similar to smallmouth bass in how you catch them. Because redeye are attracted to the same areas as smallmouth, they are also attracted to the same types of presentations. They are small, but they can still supply a fun, lively fight at the end of the line. There is a whole lot of spunk in those small bodies, which is why they are so fun for you to target.

One of the more unique ways to catch redeye is on the fly. Fly fishing for redeye is a niche of the sport that is super fun but can be a bit challenging. If you can master that artform, use it to catch some redeye at the local stream or river. There are several great flies on the market that can target the redeye.
Using your normal bass fishing instincts will not change too much when fishing for this type. Just keep the downsizing in mind, and you should be golden!

The Best Lures and Baits for Redeye Bass

Because of their size, you need to present a lure or bait that is a bit smaller. It would help if you were not using the same lures to target a double-digit largemouth. Downsizing the presentation allows you to take advantage of what redeyes naturally eat. The best lures to use could include jigs or many variations, small swimbaits, crankbaits and spoons, among others.

You can also go all natural with the presentation. Redeye bass love to munch on live bait such as nightcrawlers, minnows, and some other options. This is totally up to personal preference, but it shows that you have a wide range of options when fishing for this subspecies.

One of the more unique ways to catch redeye is on the fly. Fly fishing for bass is a niche of the sport that is super fun but can be a bit challenging. If you can master that artform, use it to catch some redeye at the local stream or river. There are several great flies on the market that can target the redeye.

Using your normal bass fishing instincts will not change too much when fishing for this type. Just keep the downsizing in mind, and you should be golden!

Also remember to grab yourself a decent bass rod and reel if you have not yet got one we have have you covered below:

The 7 Best Bass Fishing Rods 2021

The 12 Best Bass Fishing Reels 2021

Can You Eat Redeye Bass?

Redeye Bass Eat Fishing Meal

Catching fish for food is an activity that is nearly as old as our time on Earth as humans. So, it is only natural that we would want to harvest our catch to this day! However, today’s world requires just a bit more knowledge and understanding of the rules than in years past.

Similar to the idea of fishing licenses, harvesting fish for food has rules and regulations that vary state by state. To see if you can catch redeye for food, look online or visit your local fishing shop to see the laws in place.

In terms of harvesting redeye specifically, it is a great fish to eat in some situations! The bass fishing community is very particular about eating its species. For largemouth specifically, it can be quite taboo to keep your catch, especially if it is over 4-5 pounds.

For redeye, the fish is delicious, and the taboo is not quite as strong. The meat is white and flakey, so it delivers a fantastic flavor. In many situations, the purity and cleanliness of the water is the determining factor of if you want to eat the fish. There are certain waterways that redeye occupy that are known to be tainted with pollution. Knowing where suitable areas are will require a bit of research, but it is well worth it.

Questions and Answers

Here are a few questions many bass anglers have about Red eye bass.

What type of bass has orange eyes?

Rock bass possess an intense and compressed lateral. They often have red to orange eyes, large terminal chin with brown to orange body color.

Do shoal bass have red eyes?

The Red Eye colour resembles the Redeye / Suwannee Bass from the first glance. ... The shoe-basket is generally green to black on its side. A dusky dark streak that is around 50 – 65% the size of the eye appears behind the lid of the eye.

Where can I find a red eye bass?

Redeye bass Redeye or Coosa bass are freshwater fish of the Cyntricidae family and are found within the coosa River system of Georgia. Usually found in cold streams in foothill mountain areas.

Why do some largemouth bass have red eyes?

Pigment discoloration causes red eyes in largemouth bass, a extremely rare occurrence.

Can smallmouth bass have red eyes?

Yes, smallmouth bass with red eyes is usually due to pigment discoloration and can be quite common. Smallmouth's red eyes are very distinguishable from redeye bass due to them being very bright and exaggerated.

Closing thoughts

Redeye bass are incredible subspecies to fish for if you know how to find them. At the end of the day, that is part of the fun. The hunt for a somewhat rare fish is always a great way to spend some time.

Popular rigs like the Texas or Carolina rig give me the best success when catching redeyes.

From the information above, you should be able to recognize redeyes and pick them apart from other bass. This allows you to add another checkmark to the fishing bucket list.

So, if you ever find yourself in an area that has bass with red eyes, take advantage of the opportunity and get to fishing!

Knowning how how and when bass spawn will help you in planing your next trip. Check out my article on when do bass spawn for more information

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