Fish Identification

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Bass, Largemouth

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Largemouth bass have a dark green upper body fading into a whitish belly, with a series of dark marks forming a dark horizontal band along the sides. As water clarity decreases, colors fade and fish tend to be more silver in appearance. They can be distinguished from other bass species by their large mouth.  When the mouth is closed, the upper jaw extends well beyond the eye. In addition, there is a deep notch between their dorsal fins, making the two fins appear separate.

Scientific Name: Micropterus salmoides

Adult Size: 12-38 inches

Distribution: Found in warm waters throughout the state.

Current State Record Information 

 

Bass, Altamaha

 

Altamaha bass are olive green to bronze with pale bellies that sometimes have a bluish tint, have a series of dark vertical blotches along their sides that may fade with age, and have numerous small dark spots below the lateral line that form horizontal rows. The upper jaw does not extend beyond the eyes, the dorsal fin is continuous and not deeply notched, and lateral blotches do not form a horizontal band. Altamaha Bass differ from all other bass species in that the caudal fin is dark spotted with narrow orange upper and lower margins; the second dorsal and anal fins also have some orange coloration on their outer portions. 

Scientific Name: Micropterus sp. cf. cataractae

Adult Size: 5-16 inches

Distribution: Altamaha bass are found above the fall line in the Ocmulgee, Oconee, and Ogeechee river basins.

Current State Record Information: none currently on file 

 

Bass, Bartram's

Bartram’s bass are olive green to bronze with pale bellies that sometimes have a bluish tint, have a series of dark vertical blotches along their sides that may fade with age, and have numerous small dark spots below the lateral line that form horizontal rows. The upper jaw does not extend beyond the eyes, the dorsal fin is continuous and not deeply notched, and lateral blotches do not form a horizontal band. Bartram’s Bass differ from all other bass species in that the caudal fin lacks notable spotting and has a narrow pale lower margin; the second dorsal, caudal, and anal fins usually have some orange to yellow coloration on their outer portions. 

Scientific Name: Micropterus sp. cf. cataractae

Adult Size: 5-16 inches

Distribution: Bartram's bass are found above the fall line in the Savannah river basins.

Current State Record Information: none currently on file 

 

Bass, Chattahoochee

Chattahoochee bass are olive green to bronze with pale bellies that sometimes have a bluish tint, have a series of dark vertical blotches along their sides that may fade with age, and have numerous small dark spots below the lateral line that form horizontal rows. The upper jaw does not extend beyond the eyes, the dorsal fin is continuous and not deeply notched, and lateral blotches do not form a horizontal band. Chattahoochee Bass differ from all other bass species in that the second dorsal, caudal, and anal fins have bright orange coloration on their outer portions and numerous dark spots.

Scientific Name: Micropterus chattahoochee

Adult Size: 5-16 inches

Distribution: Chattahoochee bass are found above the fall line in the Chattahoochee River basin.

Current State Record Information: none currently on file 

 

Bass, Redeye

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Redeye bass are olive green to bronze with pale bellies, have a series of dark vertical blotches along their sides that usually disappear with age, and have numerous small dark spots below the lateral line that form horizontal rows. The upper jaw does not extend beyond the eyes, the dorsal fin is continuous and not deeply notched, and lateral blotches do not form a horizontal band. Redeye bass differ from all other bass species in that the second dorsal, caudal, and anal fins have brick red coloration on the outer portions with white edges.

Scientific Name: Micropterus coosae

Adult Size: 5-16 inches

Distribution: Redeye bass are found in the Coosa river basin; and have been introduced into the Tennessee River basin.

Current State Record Information 

 

Bass, Shoal

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Shoal bass are olive to bronze with pale bellies, have a series of dark vertical blotches along their sides that may fade with age, and have numerous small dark spots below the lateral line that may form horizontal rows. Unlike largemouth bass, the upper jaw does not extend beyond the eyes and the dorsal fin is continuous and not deeply notched. They are most similar to the the redeye basses, but do not have any red coloration in the fins or pale margins on the tail. Unlike smallmouth bass they usually have a large dark spot at the base of the tail.

Scientific Name: Micropterus cataractae

Adult Size: 12-24 inches

Distribution: Native to the Chattahoochee and Flint River basins; introduced in the Ocmulgee River

Current State Record Information 

 

Bass, Smallmouth

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Smallmouth bass are usually bronze to brownish green, with dark vertical bars on their sides. Unlike largemouth bass, the upper jaw extends only to the middle of the eyes, and the dorsal fin is continuous and not deeply notched. It is most similar in appearance to shoal bass, which usually have a dark spot at the base of the tail.

Scientific Name:  Micropterus dolomieui

Adult size: 7-27 inches

Distribution: Native to the Tennessee River basin; introduced in the Chattahoochee and Savannah River basins.

Current State Record Information 

 

Bass, Spotted

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Common Names: Spotted bass; Alabama bass; Kentucky bass

Spotted Bass are greenish in color with pale bellies and have a series of dark lateral blotches that merge to form an irregular band, numerous small dark spots below the lateral line that form horizontal rows, and a prominent dark spot at the base of the tail. Unlike largemouth bass, the upper jaw does not extend beyond the eyes and the dorsal fin is continuous and not deeply notched. Spotted bass and Alabama bass are very similar, but spotted bass have blotches above the lateral band that touch the first dorsal fin, while on an Alabama bass the blotches do not touch the first dorsal fin.

Scientific Name:  Micropterus punctulatus, Micropterus henshalli

Adult size: 11-25 inches

Distribution: Spotted bass are native to the Tennessee River basin and introduced in the Chattahoochee River basin and perhaps others; Alabama Bass are native to the Coosa River Basin and introduced in the Chattahoochee, Ocmulgee, Oconee, and Savannah River basins.

Current State Record Information

Alabama Bass

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Bass, Suwannee

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Suwannee bass have a series of dark, vertical, diamond shaped blotches along the lateral line, which may form a band. Mature Suwannee bass may have bright bluish coloring on the cheeks, breast, and ventral parts. Unlike largemouth bass, the upper jaw does not extend beyond the eyes and the dorsal fin is continuous and not deeply notched.

Scientific Name:  Micropterus notius

Adult size: Up to 16 inches

Distribution: Found only in the Alapaha, Ochlockonee, and Withlacoochee Rivers

Current State Record Information 

 

 

Bass, Tallapoosa

Tallapoosa bass are olive green to bronze with pale bellies that sometimes have a bluish tint, have a series of dark vertical blotches along their sides that may fade with age, and have numerous small dark spots below the lateral line that form horizontal rows. The upper jaw does not extend beyond the eyes, the dorsal fin is continuous and not deeply notched, and lateral blotches do not form a horizontal band. Tallapoosa Bass differ from all other bass species in that the second dorsal, caudal, and anal fins have yellow-green coloration with white edges.

Scientific Name: Micropterus tallapoosae

Adult Size: 5-16 inches

Distribution: Tallapoosa bass are found in the Tallapoosa River basin.

Current State Record Information: none currently on file 

 

Bass, White

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White bass are silvery-gray to blue on the upper body with pale sides, and usually marked with horizontal stripes. They can be distinguished from striped bass by the somewhat football shaped body and single patch of teeth on the tongue. Hybrid bass have more distinct stripes that are often broken or offset. Yellow bass are yellow in color, with distinct broken stripes, while white perch lack stripes or a tooth patch in the middle of the tongue.

Scientific Name:  Morone chrysops

Adult size: 10-18 inches

Distribution: Native to the Tennessee River basin; introduced to rivers and lakes throughout the state, but scarce on the coastal plain

Current State Record Information 

 

Bass, Striped

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Striped bass have silver, copper or greenish backs and pale sides marked by six to nine dark, unbroken stripes running from head to tail. They have an elongated and slightly compressed body, and two narrow tooth patches on the tongue, which readily distinguishes them from white bass. Hybrid bass have shorter, stockier bodies and broken stripes, yellow bass are distinctly yellow, and white perch lack stripes.

Scientific Name:  Morone saxatilis

Adult size: 15-79 inches

Distribution: Found in large rivers and lakes throughout the state

Current State Record Information 

 

Bass, Hybrid Striped x White (Hybrid Bass)

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Hybrid bass have a gray to blue back with pale sides marked by distinct dark stripes that are broken and often offset. Striped bass differ in having a more elongated body shape, white bass differ in having fainter continuous stripes, yellow bass have distinctly yellow coloration, and white perch lack stripes.

Scientific Name:  Morone saxatilis X chrysops

Adult size: 15-27 inches

Distribution: Stocked in many rivers and lakes throughout the state 

Current State Record Information

 

Bowfin

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Bowfin have a long cylindrical body, an olive to brown back, pale belly, plain or mottled sides, a rounded tail with a ring shaped spot, a large head and mouth, and a long dorsal fin running down much of the back.

Scientific Name:  Amia calva

Adult size: 8-43 inches

Distribution: Found mostly in the southern half of the state.

Current State Record Information

 

Bullhead, Brown

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Brown bullhead are dark brown or gray above and have white to yellowish bellies. The sides are usually mottled with irregular dark markings, all whiskers are dark, the anal fin has a rounded margin, and the tail is not forked. They are most similar to yellow bullhead, which have pale chin whiskers, and black bullhead, which have a pale bar at the base of the tail.

Scientific Name:  Ameiurus nebulosus

Adult size: 5-22 inches

Distribution: Found in warm waters throughout the state.

Current State Record Information 

 

Bullhead, Yellow

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Yellow bullhead are olive to dark brown above and have white to yellowish bellies; the sides are usually plain without distinct markings, chin whiskers are pale, the anal fin has a relatively straight margin, and the tail is not forked. They are most similar to brown bullhead and black bullhead, which both have dark chin whiskers.

Scientific Name:  Ameiurus natalis

Adult size: 6-19 inches

Distribution: Found in warm waters throughout the state

Current State Record Information 

 

Catfish, Channel

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Channel catfish have dark blue to olive backs with pale to yellowish sides and bellies, and scattered dark spots that often disappear in large fish. They have a deeply forked tail, an overhanging upper jaw, dark chin whiskers, and an anal fin with a curved margin. They are most similar to blue catfish, which do not have spots, have pale chin whiskers, and a long straight margin on the anal fin. White Catfish have pale chin whiskers, a shallowly forked tail, and lack spots.

Scientific Name:  Ictalurus punctatus

Adult size: 10-50 inches

Distribution: Found in warm waters throughout the state

Current State Record Information 

 

Catfish, Flathead

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Flathead catfish have a broad, flat head, with a lower jaw protruding beyond the upper jaw. The back and sides are brown to yellow, with black-to olive-brown mottling, fading to a dirty white or yellow belly. The tail is not forked and the tip of the upper lobe is lighter than the rest of the tail.

Scientific Name:  Pylodictis olivaris

Adult size: 15-61 inches

Distribution: Native to the Coosa and Tennessee River basins; introduced in the Chattahoochee, Flint, Ocmulgee, Oconee, Altamaha, Satilla, and Savannah River basins

Current State Record Information 

 

Catfish, Blue

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Blue catfish typically are bluish-gray above, fading to white on the sides and belly, and do not have spots. They have a deeply forked tail, an overhanging upper jaw, pale chin whiskers, and an anal fin with a long straight margin. They are most similar to channel catfish, which often have spots, have dark chin whiskers, and a curved margin on the anal fin. White Catfish have a shallowly forked tail, and a rounded anal fin.

Scientific Name:  Ictalurus furcatus

Adult size: 20-65 inches

Distribution: Native to the Coosa River basin; introduced in the Chattahoochee, Flint, Ocmulgee, Oconee, Altamaha, Satilla, and Savannah River basins

Current State Record Information 

 

Catfish, White

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White catfish are gray to dark blue above and have white to yellowish bellies; the sides are usually plain without distinct markings, chin whiskers are pale, the anal fin has a rounded margin, and the tail is moderately forked. They are most similar to channel catfish, which have dark chin whiskers, and blue catfish, which have an anal fin with a long straight edge.

Scientific Name:  Ameiurus catus

Adult size: 8-37 inches

Distribution: Found throughout the state, except the Coosa and Tennessee River basins

Current State Record Information 

 

Common Carp

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Common carp have a deep stout body, brassy in coloration, yellow to orange lower fins, large scales, forked tail, and prominent barbels around the mouth. They could be confused with buffalo, suckers, and grass carp, but none of these have barbels.

Scientific Name:  Cyprinus carpio

Adult size: 20-48 inches

Distribution: Native to Europe and Asia; introduced throughout the state, but scarce on the coastal plain

Current State Record Information 

 

Crappie, Black

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Black crappie have a compressed body, arched back, dorsal and anal fins of similar size and shape, seven or eight dorsal spines, and a large mouth with an upper jaw extending under the eye. The sides and fins are mottled with irregular dark spots that do not form a distinct pattern. They are most similar to white crappie, which usually have vertical bands on their sides and have five or six dorsal spines.

Scientific Name:  Pomoxis nigromaculatus

Adult size: 5-19 inches

Distribution: Found in warm waters throughout the state

Current State Record Information 

 

Crappie, White

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White crappie have a compressed body, arched back, dorsal and anal fins of similar size and shape, five or six dorsal spines, and a large mouth with an upper jaw extending under the eye. The sides are marked with irregular vertical bands, and the fins are marked with spots or bands. They are most similar to black crappie, which do not have vertical bands on their sides and have seven or eight dorsal spines.

Scientific Name:  Pomoxis annularis

Adult size: 6-21 inches

Distribution: Native to the Coosa and Tennessee River basins; scattered introductions in other parts of the state

Current State Record Information 

 

Freshwater Drum

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Freshwater drum have a deep oval-shaped body with a high arched back. The back is gray, sides are silvery, and the belly is pale; the tail is rounded. It has a shape similar to buffalo and carp, but it has a rounded tail fin, smaller scales, and a larger mouth.

Scientific Name:  Aplodinotus grunniens

Adult size: 11-25 inches

Distribution: Found in the Coosa and Tennessee River basins

Current State Record Information: No current state record 

 

Gar, Longnose

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Longnose gar have a very elongate and thin body, brownish or greenish above, pale below, scattered dark spots present on body and fins, rounded tail, and very long narrow jaws lined with teeth. They are most similar to spotted and Florida gar, which both have a shorter and broader snout.

Scientific Name:  Lepisosteus osseus

Adult size: 19-79 inches

Distribution: Found in warm waters throughout the state.

Current State Record Information 

 

Pickerel, Chain (Jackfish)

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Chain pickerel have an elongated torpedo-shaped body with a long, pointed snout. They have dark greenish backs, pale bellies, and a bright green chain-like pattern on their sides, with yellowish-green spots within the chains. There is a conspicuous vertical dark streak through the eye. The similar redfin pickerel has wavy bars rather than a chain-like pattern, and the bar through the eye slants toward the rear.

Scientific Name:  Esox niger

Adult size: 8-39 inches

Distribution: Found in warm waters throughout the state

Current State Record Information 

 

Pickerel, Redfin

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Redfin pickerel have an elongated torpedo-shaped body with a long, pointed snout. They have dark backs and pale bellies with olive green to brownish wavy bars on their sides that may be indistinct; they may or may not have reddish fins. They have a dark bar beneath the eye that slants backward. The similar chain pickerel has a distinct chain-like pattern on the sides and a vertical bar through the eye.

Scientific Name:  Esox americanus

Adult size: 6-16 inches

Distribution: Found throughout most of the state, except for the mountains, but most abundant in the southern half.

Current State Record Information 

 

Shad, American

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American shad are bluish or green above with a silvery side, large prominent scales, a dark spot just behind the gill cover, which may have additional spots behind it, and a deeply forked tail. They are most similar to the hickory shad, which have a strongly projecting lower jaw, and blueback herring, which have a larger eye. Gizzard and threadfin shad both have an elongated ray in the dorsal fin.

Scientific Name:  Alosa sapidissima

Adult size: 12-30 inches

Distribution: Runs up Atlantic coast rivers to spawn in the spring.

Current State Record Information 

 

Shad, Hickory

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Hickory shad are gray or green above with a silvery side, large prominent scales, a horizontal row of dark spots behind the gill cover, and a deeply forked tail. They are most similar to American shad and blueback herring, which have a lower jaw that is equal or only slightly projecting beyond the upper jaw. Gizzard and threadfin shad both have an elongated ray in the dorsal fin.

Scientific Name:  Alosa mediocris

Adult size: 13-24 inches

Distribution: Runs up Atlantic coast rivers to spawn in the spring; an introduced population exists in Lake Hartwell

Current State Record Information 

 

Smallmouth Buffalo

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Smallmouth buffalo have a deep stout body, gray or dark blue above, gray to olive sides, pale belly, dusky fins, large scales, forked tail, and a small mouth without barbels. They can be distinguished from common carp in lacking barbels around the mouth, and differ from grass carp and suckers in having a deep stout body rather than an elongate or cylindrical body.

Scientific Name:  Ictiobus bubalus

Adult size: 15-44 inches

Distribution: Found in the Coosa and Tennessee River basins

Current State Record Information: No current state record 

 

Sunfish, Bluegill

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Bluegill have a compressed body with a rounded profile. Their back and upper sides are dark olive-green, often with dark vertical bars on the sides, and the belly is pale yellow to light orange. Spawning males have blue on the lower parts of the head and a red breast. They have an entirely dark ear flap and a dark spot in the rear of the dorsal fin, which distinguishes them from all other sunfish.

Scientific Name:  Lepomis macrochirus

Adult size: 7-16 inches

Distribution: Found in warm waters throughout the state.

Current State Record Information 

 

Sunfish, Flier

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Flier have a compressed body with a rounded profile, and large dorsal and anal fins that are nearly equal in size. They have a dark greenish back with olive green to pale yellow sides that are marked with several rows of brown spots. There is a distinct dark streak running through the eye onto the cheek, and many light spots on the dorsal and anal fins. Small fliers have a prominent black spot surrounded by orange in the rear dorsal fin.

Scientific Name:  Centrarchus macropterus

Adult size: 2-11 inches

Distribution: Found mostly in the southern half of the state

Current State Record Information 

 

Sunfish, Green

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Green sunfish have a compressed body with an oval profile, greenish back and sides, white to yellowish belly, scattered blue-green markings on the side, and wavy blue-green lines on the snout and cheek. The ear flap is dark with a pale margin, and there is a prominent dark spot in the rear dorsal and anal fins.

Scientific Name:  Lepomis cyanellus

Adult size: 5-12 inches

Distribution: Native to the Coosa and Tennessee River basins; introduced through most of the state.

Current State Record Information 

 

Sunfish, Redear (Shellcracker)

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Redear sunfish have a compressed body with a rounded profile, and long pointed pectoral fins. They have an olive back with a yellow breast, and the pale to yellowish sides are marked with brownish spots or bars. They can be distinguished from most other sunfish by the dark ear flap with a distinct red or orange margin and from the similar pumpkinseed by not having blue lines on the head.

Scientific Name:  Lepomis microlophus

Adult size: 5-17 inches

Distribution: Found in warm waters throughout the state.

Current State Record Information 

 

Sunfish, Redbreast

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Redbreast sunfish have a compressed body with a rounded profile, greenish back with yellow-olive sides and a reddish-orange belly. They have wavy blue-green lines on the snout and cheeks, and a long narrow ear flap that is no wider than the eye, which can exceed an inch in length and is entirely dark at the tip. The similar longear sunfish has an ear flap with a pale margin throughout its length.

Scientific Name:  Lepomis auritus

Adult size: 2-12 inches

Distribution: Native to most of the state; Introduced in the Coosa and Tennessee River basins

Current State Record Information 

 

Sunfish, Rock Bass

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Rock bass have a compressed body with an oval profile, backs marked with indistinct dark saddles, and pale sides marked with small dark spots that form horizontal lines; the anal fin may have a dark edge. They may appear similar to warmouth, but have lines on the side and six anal spines rather than three.

Scientific Name:  Ambloplites rupestris

Adult size: 5-17 inches

Distribution: Native to the Tennessee River basin; introduced in the upper Chattahoochee and Savannah River basins.

Current State Record Information: No Current State Record

 

Sunfish, Shadow Bass

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Shadow bass have a compressed body with an oval profile, dark mottling forming a camouflage-like pattern, and sides marked with small dark spots that form horizontal lines. They may appear similar to warmouth, but have lines on the side and six anal spines rather than three.

Scientific Name:  Ambloplites ariommus

Adult size: 5-12 inches

Distribution: Found in the Coosa, Flint and lower Chattahoochee River basins

Current State Record Information 

 

Sunfish, Spotted

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Spotted sunfish have a compressed body with an rounded profile, olive green back and sides, and a yellow to orange belly.  The ear flap is short and dark with a pale margin. They can be distinguished from all other sunfish by the numerous small dark to reddish spots on the sides that follow the scale rows, scattered dark spots on the cheek, and a distinct blue crescent mark on the lower margin of the eye.

Scientific Name:  Lepomis punctatus

Adult size: 2-8 inches

Distribution: Found in warm waters throughout the state, except for the northeast.

Current State Record Information 

 

Sunfish, Warmouth

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Warmouth have a thick, oblong body that is brassy to dark olive-green, with broad, irregular dark bars giving it a mottled appearance, often with a yellowish belly. It has reddish eyes and a large mouth, with the upper jaw extending to or beyond the middle of the eyes. There are conspicuous dark stripes that radiate back from the eyes across the cheek, and a red spot on the ear flap. They may appear similar to rock and shadow bass, but do not have horizontal lines on the side and have three anal spines rather than six.

Scientific Name:  Lepomis gulosus

Adult size: 3-12 inches

Distribution: Found in warm waters throughout the state

Current State Record Information 

 

Trout, Brook

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Brook trout have a greenish to grey back, with silver to reddish-orange sides and belly. They have red spots, and pale wavy markings and spots along the back and sides. The lower fins all have white forward margins followed by a distinct black stripe. They differ from other trout in having pale markings on a darker background.

Scientific Name:  Salvelinus fontinalis

Adult size: 5-28 inches (few will be above 10 inches in Georgia)

Distribution: Found in the Tennessee, Coosa, Chattahoochee, and Savannah River basins. Natural brook trout populations only exist where rainbow and brown trout do not exist.

Current State Record Information 

 

Trout, Brown

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Brown trout are olive to golden brown with yellowish to silvery sides. The back and upper sides have dark spots that are often encircled with a pale ring, and red spots lower on their sides. Brown trout differ from other trout in lacking pale spots on a dark background or dark spots on the lower part of the tail.

Scientific Name:  Salmo trutta

Adult size: 6-33 inches

Distribution: Native to Europe; introduced in the Tennessee, Coosa, Chattahoochee, and Savannah River basins

Current State Record Information

 

Trout, Ranbow

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Rainbow trout have an olive-green back, a whitish belly, and a broad, pink to red lateral stripe on the sides. They have heavy black speckling on the fins and body. They differ from other trout in lacking red spots or pale spots on a dark background.

Scientific Name:  Oncorhyncus mykiss

Adult size: 5-32 inches

Distribution: Native to the Pacific slope of North America; introduced in the Tennessee, Coosa, Tallapoosa, Chattahoochee, and Savannah River basins

Current State Record Information 

 

Walleye

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Walleye are somewhat torpedo-shaped, ranging in color from dark olive-brown to yellowish gold, with brassy-flecked sides, and a dark blotch at the rear of a spiny dorsal fin. It has two separate dorsal fins and the lower lobe of the tail is tipped with white. Its large, glassy eyes reflect light at night.

Scientific Name: Sander vitreus 

Adult size: 11-36 inches

Distribution: Native to the Coosa and Tennessee River basins; introduced in the upper Chattahoochee and Savannah River basins

Current State Record Information 

 

Yellow Perch

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Yellow perch have a compressed elongate body, olive to bronze above, yellowish below, with six to nine dark narrow saddles and yellow to orange lower fins. They are most similar in shape to a small walleye, but differ in their distinctive color and pattern.

Scientific Name:  Perca flavescens

Adult size: 6-16 inches

Distribution: Found throughout the state, except the far south 

Current State Record Information