Common Names – warmouth bass, warmouth perch, goggle-eye, redeye and goggle-eyed perch.
Description – The warmouth closely resembles a bass or a bream. It has a stout, deep body similar to that of a bluegill or redear sunfish, yet has a large bass-like mouth. The red eye and large mouth are the first conspicuous field marks of mature warmouth. They vary from brassy to dark-olive green and often have a purple tint overall. Broad, irregular dark bars give it a mottled appearance. The soft-rayed portions of the dorsal and anal fins are marked with rows of dark spots. Three or four conspicuous dark stripes radiate back from the eye across to the cheek and gill cover.
Subspecies – There are no recognized subspecies. However, warmouths readily hybridize with other members of the sunfish family.
Range – Found throughout Florida.
Habitat – Warmouths inhabit swamps, marshes, shallow lakes, slow-moving streams and canals with soft, muddy bottoms. They prefer to stay around aquatic vegetation, stumps, and snags and under the banks of streams and ponds. They have more tolerance for muddy water than most species.
Spawning Habits – Warmouths are solitary nesters that prefer to build their nest adjacent to some submerged object. Nests are found over a wide range of water depths. They often spawn more than once a year usually between April and August. Females may produce 3,000 to 23,000 eggs.
Feeding Habits – Warmouths are carnivorous. Crayfish, shrimp, insects and small fishes make up the bulk of its diet. Most of its feeding is done in the morning, as it seems to sleep at night.
Age and Growth – Warmouths are capable of living up to eight years and may reach a length of 12 inches and a weight of approximately one pound.
Sporting Qualities – The warmouth is one of the more easily caught sunfish by anglers using cane poles and natural baits, spinning tackle with small topwater lures and shallow-running spinners. They strike hard, frequently breaking the surface of the water. The best place to catch warmouths is shallow water around trees, stumps, or vegetation. As a sport fish, specific bag and size limit regulations apply, and you can register a qualifying catch as part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s “Big Catch” program.
Eating Quality – The warmouth are good to eat when caught from clean water. Like other panfish they are relatively small and bony. The flesh is usually prepared by deep-frying after rolling it in seasoned cornmeal.
State and World Records – 2 pounds, 7 ounces, caught in Guess Lake (Yellow River), Florida, in 1985.
Information Courtesy of MyFWC