What’s so Special About Shoal Bass?
First and foremost, they are fun to catch! As the name implies, they spend most of their day fighting the currents in the shoals. They strike hard, jump high and put up a great fight. Shoal bass are native to the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system and are also found in the Ocmulgee River. The Flint River is blessed with lots of long, free-flowing (undammed) segments of river with an abundance of high-quality shoals, giving this feisty fish a lot of prime habitat.
The Georgia Wildlife Federation and the Flint Riverkeeper worked several years as strong advocates to designate the ‘shoalie’ as a state symbol, Georgia’s Native Riverine Sport Fish. Representative Debbie Buckner and her colleagues first introduced legislation in 2016. The bill finally passed and was signed into law by Governor Brian Kemp in 2020. This designation brings further awareness to Georgia’s unique angling opportunities and helps support local communities by promoting thriving fishing and tourism economies.
So, are you ready to try your luck? Use the same kind of fishing tackle that you would use to catch other bass. Shoal Bass enjoy crayfish, fathead minnows, golden shiners, leeches, and artificial baits that look like those, including plastic worms, swimming plugs, chatterbaits and spinnerbaits. Your best bet is to search for the nearest shoals and wade out. Standing in the water is the best way to catch these acrobats. Floating through the shoals in a kayak or raft and casting to pockets and nearby swirls and eddies works well too.
Anglers are encouraged to catch and release since the conservation status of shoal bass is vulnerable. However, anglers are encouraged to KEEP all the non-native spotted bass because of their competition with, and potential for hybridizing with, the shoal bass. KNOW THE DIFFERENCE: Spotted bass and hybrids of the two have a dark lateral line of spots down the length of their body AND they have a rough “tooth patch” on their tongue. There are several shoal bass tournaments throughout the year and a number of skilled river guides in the area.
Shoal Bass photo courtesy of Randy Vining.
Safety & Emergency Tips
- Wear Your Life Jacket at all Times!
- Protect your feet
- Watch and Avoid Strainers (Avoid downed trees and other debris along the shore)
- Know the River
- Know Your Boat (Understand how to operate your canoe, kayak, paddleboard, or motorized vessel)
- In the event of an emergency, call 911 or the Meriwether County Sheriff’s Office at 706-672-3809. If possible, advise them of your location on the river.