Shoal Bass Fishing

The shoal bass freshwater fish belongs to the sunfish family and it is native to the subtropical waters of Georgia and Florida. There are some small populations located in Alabama as well but not that significant in comparison to the other two states. It has a typical black bass size and can reach a maximum length of 24 inches (61 centimeters) and a record weight of 8 pounds and 12 ounces.

Due to the fact that it was first described just 11 years ago in 1999, the shoal bass is not very understood by ichthyologists. This type of fish is frequently confused with the redeye bass because of the red-tinted eyes. Up until October 1999, the shoal bass was considered to be the redeye bass or the Suwannee bass but it is in fact similar to the spotted bass as far as the morphology is concerned.  This type of fish has in most of the cases an olive green pattern to nearly black along its back.

On the edge of the gill cover a rather dusky dark blotch approximately 60% of its size may appear in some cases. The anal fins as well as the caudal and the dorsal have also a dark olive green to a grayish black pattern. The pelvic fins might have a cream colored leading edge along with dark spots. This species of fish has scales on the base portion of the soft-rayed dorsal fins which connect the first and second dorsal fins as well as an upper jaw bone which does not extend beyond the shoal’s eyes. Several rows of darkened scales of the fish form distinct parallel lines along the lower sides of the body. The small shoal individuals have along their sides a few vertical, dark blotches which tend to fade somewhat while they increase in age.

Right until October 1999 it was considered to be a distinct subspecies of the redeye bass but today is considered a species of special concern. The fish is popular in the Chipola River and Apalachiola where the shoals exist. Some populations live in Flint and Chattahoochee river drainages. The shoal bass is closely associated with the rock shoals and are unpopular in other areas.

As far as their spawning habits are concerned, they spawn in coarse gravel at the heads of creek pools in April and May – early June. The preferred spawning temperature is between 64 and 73 degrees and very similar to the largemouth bass, the shoal bass male prepares the nest and guards the eggs and fry.

They usually eat aquatic insects on the surface but sometimes they enjoy eating fish, crayfish and larval insects. In comparison to the redeye bass, the shoal bass grows significantly faster. It is considered to be a good game fish as well as a scrappy fighter to the delight of fishermen’s.  They are usually caught by using crayfish, minnows and in most of the cases, worms. Some prefer to catch the shoal bass using small spinners or a large variety of small surface lures.

Being a sport fish, the specific bag and size limit regulations apply. Regarding their eating quality, the meat of the shoal bass is white and flaky with a significant tendency to become much drier in comparison to the largemouth. The shoal bass is also popular targets for fly fishers who find them easy to access in their preferred habitat. This practice of fly fishing the shoal bass is becoming more and more popular among fishing enthusiasts.