Warrior Bass

One of Alabama’s rarest redeye bass, the Warrior bass have experienced significant distributional declines across their native Black Warrior River system. Recent surveys showed that only a few populations of genetically pure Warrior bass populations persist with the majority of the other populations experiencing very high levels of hybridization with Alabama bass (M. henshalli). This native-on-native hybridization is likely facilitated by habitat disturbance that increases the range of the habitat generalist, Alabama bass, into the formerly specialized habitat of redeye bass. As the cool, flowing waters of redeye bass become inundated with sediment and other pollutants, they are already stressed as they require pristine habitat.

These fish have a beautiful bronze coloration with vertical blotches along the lateral line that do not coalesce into a solid line. The anal, soft dorsal, and caudal fins have a bright orange coloration that is not present in any other species of redeye bass in Alabama. A tooth patch is absent in most Warrior bass, or if present can be smaller than that in other redeye bass species.

Due to the high incidence of hybridization with Alabama bass, many “Warrior bass” are actually hybrids between Warrior bass and Alabama bass. This hybridization can produce phenotypes that range from intermediate features of both parents to those that resemble one parent species more than the other, the latter being more common in backcrossed individuals.