The ubiquitous lowly rockbass. Is there any fish that anglers catch in freshwater that gets less respect? I shall think not. My very first fish was a rockbass I caught in Irondequoit Creek in Penfield back in 5th grade under the tutelage of my friend Jeff – I think it was in the spring of 1976. We caught a bunch and fried them up. They smelled bad and tasted awful, but that was more due to the 23 or 24 sewage treatment plants spread out along the length of the creek, than it was due to the eating qualities of “rockies.” (I wasn’t aware of how polluted our local “crick” was when I was 11 years old.) A few years later the plants were all shut down and the creek cleaned up. The rockbass we ate were delicious! Just great eating.
All the Finger Lakes have rockbass. Skaneateles is absolutely LOADED with beauties. Plenty of 10″ rockies inhabit this lake. And I just bought a nice electric fillet knife which will take care of rockbass in short order. Cayuga has some monster rockbass. Sodus Bay might be one of the most legendary rockbass fisheries in the State! I knew a guy, who was a very good fisherman – he actually made pilgrimages out to Sodus in May to TROLL (yes, I said troll) for rockbass. I remember Hemlock and Canadice Lakes being full of rockies too. But I think Skinny is tops. Someone told me their numbers are down on Canandaigua. I can’t quite recall. But you can’t keep the mighty rocky down for long.
If someone tells you rock bass out of clean water are bad eating, don’t trust them to make you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! It just isn’t the case when it comes to eating rock bass. Sauteed in butter with some salt, pepper and a little basil and garlic and/or onion powder and they are wonderful. Firm as can be – since they eat a lot of crawfish.
Rockies are easy to catch in the springtime, but can be surprisingly deep in the summer. We routinely catch them dropshotting down around 40′ to 50′ in Cayuga, and in Skaneateles Lake during the summer 15′ to 35′ is typical. Nearly any dropshot lure or live baits works well. And in the spring they’ll attack stuff that’s way too big for them to eat. I admire that and will consider that next time I go out to eat or order a pizza.
The photo is of my longtime fishing buddy Terry with one around 11″ if I remember right – it was caught on Cayuga while we were bass fishing a couple years ago.