Northern Rock Bass

Northern rock bass, or goggle-eye, side view photo with black background
Scientific Name
Ambloplites rupestris
Centrarchidae (sunfishes) in the order Perciformes (perch-like fishes)

The northern rock bass, or goggle-eye, is thicker-bodied than most other sunfish, with a large mouth and very large eyes. The spiny dorsal fin has 12 spines broadly connected to the soft dorsal fin. The anal fin has 6 spines. The color is variable, but it is generally dark brown to bronze above, often blotched on the sides. There is a distinct pattern of dark spots arranged in parallel lines along the sides; this differentiates the northern rock bass from its closest relatives, the Ozark bass and shadow bass.

Other Common Names

Total length: to 11 inches; weight: to 1 pound; maximum about 17 inches and 2 pounds, 12 ounces.

Where To Find
Northern Rock Bass Goggle-Eye distribution map

Occurs in the northern and southwestern Ozarks.

Streams of the northern Ozarks, tributaries of the middle Mississippi, and a portion of the southwestern Ozarks. Rarely in Ozark reservoirs. Larger individuals are found around boulders, logs, and vegetation beds in deep pools. Most active twilight hours of dawn and dusk, and at night.

Crayfish and aquatic insects; occasionally terrestrial insects and small fish.

This game fish was previously recognized as a single species known as “rock bass,” but two very close relatives of the northern rock bass have been recognized in Missouri. Although nearly identical in behavior, habitat, and life histories, the shadow bass (Ambloplites ariommus) and Ozark bass (Ambloplites constellatus) differ from northern rock bass and from each other primarily by where they are found.

Life Cycle

Rock bass spawn from the first week in April to as late as early June. Males of this solitary-nesting species build saucer-shaped nests. In Ozark streams, the timing coincides with that of the smallmouth bass. Individuals can live 7 to 9 years.

Media Gallery
Similar Species

Where to See Species

MO DNR owns and maintains all facilities and grounds on this area. For more information or to report problems, please contact park staff at 636-586-2995.
This area provides access to Indian Creek through a partnership with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the city of Lanagan, Missouri. The area is maintained by the city of Lanagan.
Long Ford Access was purchased in 2003. It lies adjacent to the Route B Bridge on the Osage Fork of the Gasconade River.
About Fishes in Missouri
Missouri has more than 200 kinds of fish, more than are found in most neighboring states. Fishes live in water, breathe with gills, and have fins instead of legs. Most are covered with scales. Most fish in Missouri “look” like fish and could never be confused with anything else. True, lampreys and eels have snakelike bodies — but they also have fins and smooth, slimy skin, which snakes do not.