A Maryland man caught a whopper of a rock bass earlier this month while targeting yellow perch on the lower Susquehanna River. According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), Thomas Over Jr.’s 1-pound catch tied a state record set in the late 1990s.
Over Jr. was fishing with a light spinning rod when the rock bass hit, MDNR said in a press release issued on January 16. It measured 10.5-inches long and was weighed on a certified scale at Angler’s Sport Center in Annapolis. MDNR’s Recreational Fishing Outreach Coordinator Erik Zlokovitz was on hand to confirm the species and the new joint record.
“I was throwing a tandem perch rig with BPS jig heads and Southern Pro lil Hustler 1.5-inch white/red tube in deep water,” Over told the MDNR. “When I felt the ‘thump’ and started cranking, I thought I had a doubleheader of jumbo yellow perch, but to my surprise, it was a new species of fish that I did not recognize. I sent a picture to a few friends, and Paul Badders replied, ‘rock bass, and a pretty big one from the looks of it.’ ”
Sometimes called “red eyes” or “goggle eyes”, rock bass aren’t really bass at all but members of the sunfish family. Like the name suggests, they inhabit rocky substartes in lakes, streams, and rivers. And their short, robust bodies make them stubborn fighters when hooked on light tackle. According to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, it takes six years for a rock bass to reach eight inches in length. The typically rock bass is only seven inches long.
Over Jr. will be sharing his record with angler Timothy A. Adams, who caught his state-record one-pounder on the Susquehanna way back in May of 1997. Like the Maryland DNR, the International Game Fish Association has joint record holders for its all-tackle rock bass world record. Both of those fish weighed 3 pounds even. One was caught in Lake Erie, Pennsylvania in 1998 while the other came out of Ontario’s York River in 1974.