Georgia is a Top Black Bass Destination
Georgia is the only state in the nation where anglers can target six of the seven species of black bass. The most sought after, the largemouth bass, is just one among the state’s black bass population, including smallmouth, spotted, shoal, redeye (or Coosa) and Suwannee.
“Fishing for bass is an all-time favorite passion of many anglers in Georgia and is the most popular type of freshwater fishing in the nation,” says John Biagi, Fisheries Management chief for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. “Bass are appealing because they are relatively abundant in most water bodies throughout Georgia, they grow to a quality size, are aggressive fighters and provide a fun challenge to catch.”
Species breakdown by locale, technique
The most widely distributed and popular member of the black bass species, largemouth bass are easily distinguished from other black bass species by their elongated lower jaw that extends past the eye and a wide stripe running down their sides.
They commonly are found in the sluggish waters of rivers, lakes and ponds and are more tolerant of turbidity and salinity than other black bass. Consequently, they are found in most areas of the state.
Largemouth bass anglers can choose from a variety of methods, including plastic worms and jigs, topwater plugs, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Fishing with live shiners is popular for those seeking trophy-sized bass. Success typically increases when fishing near some type of cover, such as submerged trees, plants or rocks.
Check www.gofishgeorgia.com (“Fishing” and “Fishing Opportunities”) for most up-to-date information on largemouth bass fishing across the state.
Spotted bass, commonly known as Kentucky bass, are a smaller species that live in streams and rivers and often are found in lakes and reservoirs. They closely resemble largemouth bass, but differ in that they have parallel rows of spots below the lateral line and a tooth patch on the tongue.
Spotted bass are a popular target and are known as willing biters and aggressive fighters. Angling techniques vary depending on habitat, but stream fish can be caught using plastic worms, small crankbaits and spinners in flowing water. In reservoirs they commonly are caught in deep water using small plastic worms or jigs, or by crawling a large spinnerbait or crankbait over deep river channel ledges.
Check www.gofishgeorgia.com (“Fishing” and “Fishing Opportunities”) for most up-to-date information on spotted bass fishing across the state.
The quintessential Georgia black bass, shoal bass are native only to the Apalachicola River basin, including the Flint and Chattahoochee River systems in Georgia. They also were introduced into the Ocmulgee River below Lake Jackson, and therefore can be found all the way to Macon.
Shoal bass are dark olive green on the back, fading to a light green on the sides, with 10-15 vertical dark blotches on the sides. Shoal bass are similar to spotted bass with noticeable rows of spots on their lower
sides below the lateral line, and usually a dark blotch on their tails. They are distinguishable from redeye bass in that the tail of shoal bass lacks the white margins characteristic of redeye, and they also lack the redeye and spotted characteristic of teeth on the tongue.
Solely found in rivers and streams, shoal bass are a fly angler favorite and are easily caught on a variety of wet and dry flies and popping bugs. Other lures, such as plastic worms, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and flukes, can be very effective. Most shoal bass are caught in shallow rapids and rocky shoals, with a few taken each year below dams or in deep pools.
The following locations are recommended: the Chattahoochee River (above Lake Lanier), lower Flint River (between Blackshear Dam and the Big Slough near Bainbridge), the upper Flint River and the Ocmulgee River
The smallest member of Georgia’s black bass group, the redeye or “Coosa bass” look similar to spotted bass in that they have a tooth patch on their tongue and rows of spots along their lower sides, but they lack the lateral stripe of the spotted bass. They easily can be distinguished from other black bass species by the iridescent white or frosted orange color along the outer margins of their tail.
They inhabit upland warm streams in northern Georgia, and are native to small streams above the Fall Line in the Coosa, Tallapoosa, Savannah, Oconee, Ocmulgee, Ogeechee and Chattahoochee River systems.
A secretive fish, they usually remaining close to heavy cover such as undercut banks, logs and aquatic vegetation, and like shoal bass, are generally intolerant of reservoir conditions. Anglers can catch redeye bass by wading in small streams and casting crankbaits, jigs and spinners. Due to the small size of redeye bass, lure size should be very small (two inches or less).
The following locations are recommended: the Chattooga River (between Hwy. 28 down to Lake Tugaloo) and the Cartercay River (a tributary to the Coosawattee River).
The rarest of all, Suwannee bass only are found in the Ochlockonee and Suwannee River systems and generally only in the Ochlockonee, Withlacoochee and lower Alapaha rivers.
Though sometimes mistaken for smallmouth, redeye or spotted bass, the Suwannee has some very distinctive features, like a shallow dorsal fin notch, a jawbone that does not extend past the back of the eye and several diamond-shaped vertical bars along its sides. The most distinguishing attribute is the turquoise tone on the cheeks and breast.
Anglers can use similar methods as described for shoal and redeye to catch Suwannee bass, but lures and baits fished near the bottom usually out-produce other offerings.
The following locations are recommended: the Ochlochonee River (Thomasville to the state line), Withlacoochee River and the Alapaha River (below Statenville).
Smallmouth bass are usually bronze-colored, often with dark bars on their sides and their eyes are commonly red. As their name suggests, the mouth is smaller than the largemouth bass and the lower jaw does not extend past the eye.
They typically inhabit clear rocky creeks, rivers and lakes, and usually prefer areas with current in moving water. Anglers should target mountain rivers, creeks and reservoirs in the northern part of the state.
Aggressive and scrappy fighters, smallmouth can be caught using a variety of methods, including plastic worms, jigs, spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Downsizing the lures to accommodate their smaller mouths will usually lead to greater success.
The following locations are recommended: Lake Blue Ridge.
For more information on fishing in Georgia, visit www.gofishgeorgia.com .
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