J.Stockard Pro Tyer: Brandon Bailes, Athens AL

When most people hear the words “ redeye bass” they instantly think of the Rock bass species, which carry the nickname Redeye or Goggle eye here in the south, and while they can be fun from time to time ( or an annoyance if you are after smallmouth bass) there’s actually true Redeye bass species that inhabit Alabama. They are colorful, full of fight, and live in some beautiful places!

The two Redeye bass species that I pursue are the Warrior and the Coosa Redeye species. Both are beautiful fish and to me, they fight just as well as a smallmouth bass of the same stature. They typically live in secluded, clean watersheds with some current and elevation, along with plenty of rock structure to hide around…very much like a brook trout in the southern Appalachian mountains. You can fish for them in any number of ways…topwater, nymphing, and streamers. These fish don’t grow to be big but they have a hefty appetite and will chase down a terrestrial or craw in no time, putting up a great battle on any light weight rod! These fish will also key in on insect hatches that occur throughout the year and when that happens I have found them to be pretty select on what they will eat. Typically though, my go-to is either my Hatchling craw or Hopper as there’s always terrestrial insects out in the warmer months and small crayfish are on the menu year around.

These fish can be found in fast current at times or near ambush points like ledges and shaded rock outcroppings. I have had good success tight line nymphing the current seams along faster water with micro streamers but I have to say that nothing beats seeing a shadowy figure dart from under a boulder and attack a slow drifting hopper.

The Redeye bass, to me, is one of the best fish to pursue on the fly here because of the environment they live in, the way they behave, and of course the beautiful colors and patterns they are covered in! Either way, I just think they are such an amazing native fish that deserve being protected and admired…..after all they are great survivalist in the tiny streams they live.


  1. Your “Redeye” are our Smallmouth up here in our neck of the woods. Only are Smallmouth grow much bigger. I like to refer to our Smallmouth as the Greenback Trout. They can inhabit the same habitat, at the same time, in certain instances as trout. Either way, the bass family that inhabit our rivers north or south are wonderful fighters and a blast to catch! In my opinion pound for pound they fight twice as hard as their lake or pond relatives!

    1. yes we have some smallmouth like that here…..the moving water they inhabit looks just like trout water ( only warmer) and they are full of fight!!

  2. Wow. Pristine habitat, small streams, colorful, selective, spirited, taking small flies…Brandon in my mind you’re singing all the right lyrics here, as these are exactly the reasons I home in on trout. We have little streams near where I live that contain tiny native rainbows, some no more than an inch or two long, that just keep on thriving decade after decade in mere inches of water…and your redeyes sound like habit-wise they’re very much the same. (Unfortunately those little streams near me are off limits to fishing.)

    Anyway I’m glad you have this kind of fishing in the deep south where most of us probably assume the typical stream is clouded and warm. And you now have me wondering whether I could find redeye bass in my neck of the woods. There are smallmouths, but that water is not the pure ecosystem your redeye inhabit.

    Great article, great photos, a really nice tiny little crawdad tie there that I’m going to try and copy…I enjoyed your article very much.

    – Mike

    1. Thanks Mike! Yeah I’m extremely lucky to have clear cool spring-fed streams surrounding me. Definitely not what many would think when thinking of Alabama waters. I even have a creek about 2 miles from my house where many days you can almost count down when caddis or Mayflies will begin hatching in the evenings and bass and panfish key in!

  3. Brandon, Good stuff. Loved chasing down a few Coosa bass when I lived on Lake Jordan. Although they were an occasional catch on the Tallapoosa below Tallassee, my favorite stream was Socapatoy Creek. This was “Deliverance” country on a stream that no road crossed and had no public access unless you ventured up from its entrance to another remote stream. They were the dominant catch in this isolated stream and great top water targets.

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