We’re already 107 days into 2018 which means there’s only 258 days remaining to knock out your Georgia bass slam.
Georgia DNR has started to get in a few submissions for individual bass but no one has hit a slam yet. Will you be the first of 2018? This week, we’ll take a look at how you can nail down a Shoal bass with some help of former fisheries chief, John Biagi.
How Big Do They Get?
- Between 12–24 inches long
Where You Can Find Them
Of the stream bass, the shoal bass probably has the broadest distribution. This fish can be found in the Chattahoochee, Flint and Ocmulgee rivers. View an interactive map of where to find Shoal bass.
Public Access Points
Upper Chattahoochee River
There is plenty of public access in the upper Chattahoochee. The DNR has public access points at Highway 115, Buck Shoals, Duncan Bridge Road (Wildwood Outfitters), and Mossy Creek. The Corps of Engineers also provides access at Lula and Belton bridge crossings. These two locations have boat ramps, but check the lake level as you can’t use them when Lake Lanier is low.
Shoal bass can also be caught in the Chattahoochee below Morgan Falls dam in the summer when the water is warmer and wade fishing is a good option. In this area, the trout regulations dictate what type of lures you can use to fish for anything in the river. You also need a trout license to fish in this stretch even for shoal bass. The National Park Service has numerous access points along this section of river, so check for access in rocky shoals. There are some shoal bass found below West Point, but getting to them becomes difficult. Best bet from here is to try the Flint or Ocmulgee.
The Flint has a lot of public access points along the river where anglers can wade, kayak, canoe or even use a motor boat. Boat ramps can be found on the Go Outdoors Georgia App available for Apple or Android. This is a handy site to get anyone started looking for public access to Georgia river fishing. Outboard or jetdrive boats are often used in the Flint below Lake Blackshear all the way down to the upper end of Lake Seminole. Some of the biggest shoal bass come from this lower section of the river with fish in the 4 to 6 pounds common.
Shoal bass are plentiful in the Ocmulgee north of Macon. Most of the shoal bass fishing effort in this river occurs immediately below Lake Jackson. All of the public access points are on the east side of the river. Georgia Power has a boat ramp right below the dam and Georgia DNR has a public access site on Smith Mill Road called Margery Kahn Popper Access. The Hwy 16 bridge (there’s no public access at the Highway 16 bridge) and above the Forest Service's Wise Creek access site are for canoes or kayaks only. The Popper Access site has a "slide" that allows people to place their craft on an elevated rail system and push or pull the boat from the parking lot to the river bank. Groups of two or more with two vehicles can drop a vehicle at a lower access site and drive up river to put in to float a 3–4 mile section of the river. The Georgia Power to Wise Creek float is an all day trip if you plan to fish.
How to Fish Them
Shoal bass are found around current breaks near flowing water. This can be in the middle of a big shoal, in a deepwater bend of the river with large boulders or on the bank behind a tree in the water. The key is almost always that there is some flow.
Lures You Should Use
Shoal bass can be caught on a variety of lures. Anything that will catch a largemouth bass in your favorite pond will also work on shoal bass; see John’s recommendations below Fly fishermen also have a lot of success targeting shoal bass with a wide array flies; including wooly buggers, Clouser minnows, crayfish patterns and top water poppers.
Recommendations from John Biagi
“I've always had a soft spot for soft plastics, so that is what I typically throw. Spinner baits, buzz baits, topwater baits, jerkbaits, crankbaits, and jigs have all produced shoal bass for me at one time or another but I never go shoal bass fishing without some plastic worms.”
So you want to catch a bass slam in Georgia. Learn about the Georgia Bass Slam.