Other names: Goggle-eye, warmouth bass
Status: Texas nongame fish
The warmouth is somewhat larger than either rock bass or green sunfish (with which it is often confused) but very similar otherwise in that it is large-mouthed and heavy-bodied. Adult warmouth are dark, with mottled brown coloration. Ventral areas are generally golden, and males have a bright orange spot at the base of the dorsal fin.
Warmouth have three spines in the anal fin, 10 spines in the dorsal fin, and small teeth are present on the tongue. Lepomis, the generic name, is Greek and means “scaled gill cover.” The species epithet gulosus is Latin, meaning “large-mouthed.”
Warmouth are most abundant in the eastern regions of the state, hence that is where “goggle-eye” fishing is concentrated. Spring is the prefered time period for warmouth fishing, and minnows or crayfish are the prefered bait. Fish up to 1.3 pound have been landed in Texas.
Warmouth may spawn from spring through the summer, with a peak in May or June. As with other sunfish, they are nest builders. However, they do not nest in large groups or “beds” as some other species do. Males guard their nests vigorously until fry swim away. In general, warmouth prefer complex habitat with aquatic vegetation, sunken logs, stumps, and other structure. Young fish feed on insect larvae and switch to small fish, snails, and crayfish as they grow.
The warmouth ranges from Wisconsin to south Texas, and from the east coast of the US to west Texas. The species is found throughout Texas with the exception of plains streams in the Panhandle.