It was an overcast and cloudy morning, and the fog was just starting to lift above the water. I had just pulled up to one of my favorite places to fish on the Chattahoochee River in Georgia. I was after my favorite species of bass, the shoal bass. After having more than my share of bad luck and losing some very nice fish over the previous few weeks, I was reluctant to even hit the water.
But I make it a point to never give up, so I unloaded my Feelfree Moken 12.5 and began my paddle upriver to a nice set of shoals and rapids that has produced some quite large shoal bass for me. As I neared the foot of the shoals, I began fan-casting the area in an attempt to locate the fish and get an idea of where they might be holding and if they were aggressively feeding in the rapid water.
After catching a few smaller shoal bass in the 14 – 16 inch range, I decided to get out of the kayak, and I began wade-fishing my way up through the shoals. I was specifically targeting the deeper pool areas in hopes of finding a nice 20” plus “fat girl” that was waiting on a meal. As I scanned the water, I noticed a small pool with a submerged outcropping of rocks with undercut ledges.
I carefully placed my cast so that my texas-rigged Culprit 10” Original worm would drift right under the ledges as I slowly worked it back to me. Within in seconds, I felt that familiar bump and pull and watched as my line started to slowly drift away. I made my move, set the hook hard, and the fight was on. She made several hard runs and gave the drag on my Ardent Apex Elite reel one heckuva workout. But she was no match for my Manley Platinum rod, and after putting up a terrific fight, I finally netted her.
She was even bigger than I had hoped or expected, and I was extremely excited when I placed her on the measuring board to find that she was 22.5” long. What a gorgeous fish this beast of a shoal bass was! After weighing her with my digital scales and getting a few pics, I carefully returned this 6.7 lb beauty back to the river.
For those of you not familiar, the shoal bass is a very unique species of bass, and is mainly only found in 3 rivers in the world…..the Flint, Chattahoochee, and Ocmulgee……all located right here in Georgia. Their preferred habitat is swift current and shoal water, so, naturally, they are very strong and extremely aggressive fighters. To date, the world record shoal bass is 8lbs, 12oz. , so I was certainly excited to land this beauty of almost 7 lbs!