Species image (Illustration Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

What it looks like

  • small and very deep-bodied
  • back and upper sides are brown to olive, with golden tints, often with dark saddles
  • adults have regular rows of spots along the side
  • dorsal fin has 10 to 13 spines
  • 6 anal fin spines
  • large, red eye
  • mouth is large and extends backwards to below the middle of the eye


  • length: 15-20 centimetres (6-8 inches)
  • weight: 0.2 kilograms (0.4 pounds)
  • Ontario record: 1.4 kilograms (3.0 pounds)

Similar fish

Where it’s found

Range of the Rock Bass in Ontario

Species distribution map (modified from Mandrak and Crossman, 1992)


  • throughout southern and central Ontario and the Great Lakes, portions of northwestern Ontario
  • use Fish ON-Line, an interactive mapping tool, to find specific lakes and rivers


  • cool lakes and slow-moving streams
  • rocky bottoms
  • swimming with other sunfish and bass

Angling tips

  • most active in the summer – will bite all day
  • feed very little in late fall
  • take cover in strong sunlight under docks, sunken wood
  • spend most of their time in a relatively small area
  • good target for young anglers
  • light line is best, but use larger baits than other sunfish species
  • techniques include dangling live bait from a small bobber, fly-fishing, casting small lures, slow-trolling, drifting

Common baits

  • small plugs, spinners, jigs
  • live worms or insects