Flint River Shoal Bass

Day two of our Southern Kayak Fishing Tour started at about 4 a.m. It was difficult convincing my body to leave the comfortable confines of my sleeping bag after ending a 14 hour drive yesterday and only getting a few hours of sleep. Eventually my enthusiasm and excitement for what the day could possibly hold in store overrode my body’s protests. My son, on the other hand, was ready and raring to go. Today we would be paddling and fishing a special flowing water that held a species of bass that neither of us had ever caught. I, my son and our guide Tim Perkins would be making a two hour run to the Flint River in Georgia in an attempt to catch a shoal bass.

My son and I took some time to pose for a picture at an overlook. The river is incredible! From our vantage point, I could see an endless series of ledge systems running across the river creating what local angers call “shoals”. It’s the ideal habitat for the shoal bass.

Prep time! Loading and checking gear for the start of the day! I’m not sure that we have enough rods! I found it a little difficult to stay focused as I readied the kayaks. My mind wondered with thoughts of what the day would bring. I couldn’t wait to make the first cast!

I initially thought that shoal bass would be very similar to smallmouth bass in appearance. As I pulled my first shoal bass from the Flint River, I took the opportunity to closely examine the fishes markings. It’s a beautiful fish with very distinct wide vertical bars down the side of the fish and a subtle green sheen that makes this fish much different in appearance to the smallmouth bass of the north east.

This is my very first shoal bass ever. It’s not a huge specimen but It served to cross a second fish off my “bucket list”. I now had my first spotted bass and my first shoal bass. I caught shoalies all day on a Winco’s River Darter soft jerkbait.

Juan Jr. got on the board with his first shoal bass within 100 yards of the launch. Again, not a huge specimen but it brought a big smile to his face knowing that he had just put another notch in his belt and crossed off one of his bucket list fish as well! Its a special trip when father and son can hit the water and cross of some bucket list fish together!

The shoal bass, as the name implies, favors the shoals of the river where the water speeds up and spills over the ledge systems. The shoals create a lot of pocket water and eddies for the fish to hold in while waiting for food to come to them. I like to think of these areas as food conveyor belts! LOL! My son’s strategy, being young and nimble, was to park his Ride 115 on an exposed rock at each ledge system. From that vantage point, he would work the ledges over with a series of fan casts.

Here I am with one of the bigger shoal bass of the day. I think this one measured in at 16.5″. Yes, not a trophy but definitely a hard fighting and a fun fish to catch! We both caught double digits in numbers but couldn’t get a big bite going. Honestly, it didn’t really bother us. We had a smile on our face enjoying the day, the beautiful surroundings and great fellowship on the historic Flint River.

I did a lot of stand up fishing on the shoals in my A.T.A.K fishing kayak. Here I’m just working over a big eddy while my son took a few shots of the action. Fishing in the ledges made me feel right at home. I guide on the Susquehanna River which is famous for it’s big ledge systems and trophy smallmouth bass. No disrespect to the shoal bass though… these shoalies fought just as hard as any smallmouth bass that I’ve ever caught!

My son in the foreground is rigging up again. He had great luck using a crawfish imitation and a soft jerkbait. Tim Perkins, fellow Wilderness Systems Fishing Team member is also pictured. His expertise and local knowledge was instrumental in making our day a great success.

We ended the day with each of us catching double digit numbers of shoal bass. In my book that’s a darn successful day! Tim has something really special planned for us tomorrow on a small flowing water in Alabama! Time to get some grub, make the two hour drive back to base camp and start all over again in the morning!