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The Complete Angler’s Guide on Shoal Bass

Species Description

A unique one of the Bass family, the Shoal Bass, usually an oversight due to the usual favorite trout, is mostly found in warmer waters typically known as bass waters if you know what you’re fishing for.

fisherman angling for shoal bass

Indigenous to the Apalachicola, Chattahoochee, Flint River drainages of Georgia, Alabama and the Florida panhandle; the Shoal Bass is considered the bolder version of a Spotted Bass.

The Shoal Bass has lines that are shorter but appear much thicker and broken up.

How to Identify

Other than the similarity with the spotted Bass, it’s historically confused with the Redeye bass and holds similarities with the Largemouth.

It is much larger than the former, does not have red coloration in the fins or pale margins on the tail. The patterns are much busier than the latter.

Another differentiator is the upper jaw that does not extend beyond the eyes and the dorsal fin that is continuous and not deeply notched. 

History

Belonging to the black Bass family, Shoal is known to have evolved into the lineage about 17 million years ago.

Formally recognized in 1999, they’ve sparked the interest for research and restoration since.

However, that has not resulted in any significant long-term plans for their conservation. 

World Record

The earliest world record for a Shoal Bass was an eight-pound, 12-ounces catch, mistaken for a Redeye Bass before it was classified as a Shoal Bass thanks to the size helping in the identification.

Life Cycle

Environment and habitat greatly influence the age of a Shoal Bass. The fading of their patterns is a sign of an older Shoal; the size is also an identifier.

Colder waters seem to decrease their life expectancy, whereas they thrive in warmer water with gushing current.

The life expectancy of Shoal Bass is ongoing research with results varying with environmental circumstances of the habitat, whether the studies are in the farms made for them or in their natural habitat.

Habitat and Diet

Rocking alongside the gushing freshwater facing upstream, where the food comes from, they’re not picky eaters and will feast on whatever draws their interest drifting toward them in the current.

Anglers have even witnessed Shoal chasing water snakes up the bank. Likely to prefer slow moving over fast-moving waters, they’re smart with their hiding spots under the rocks and know their way around every twig and log in the vicinity to find their way to the approaching meal. 

Threats

The rapidly increasing Kayak fishing has significantly increased traffic and accessibility. There is a need to educate the angling masses about this species now more than ever.

The creation of dams is another reason for their rapid decrease as the water flow changes and takes a more pond-like behavior, which does not work for the Shoal. It helps that they’re one of the most restricted fish in North America.

They have to be, considering the failed attempts of changing their habitat to increase the population.

They thrive best in their natural habitat; farming them has not proven very beneficial so far.

Studies show that only the slightly older ones have shown promise in prepared habitat, but if they’re not moved back to the fresh waters once they’re ready, it could be consequential to their lives.

How to Catch

Out of all the nine identified black bass species, Shoal Bass are the most muscle-bound due to their time spent in the gushing water.

Using the current to their benefit, they are ready for a big fight if you manage to get one on the line.

If you think there’s a nook where the line could break, that is where the Shoal will take you. Make sure to prepare and gussy up the weight because it will be worth it. 

Where to Catch

The Shoal is mostly present in the Apalachicola River watershed of Alabama. Look for the turbulent shoals if you’re fishing for the Shoal Bass.

After all, that is what led to their name.

How to Eat

Grill, bake, fry or stuff. It is a great, more economical alternative, but the white and flaky Shoal Bass meat can be drier than the Largemouth.

It needs a lot of seasoning with herbs and creamy sauces to compliment the taste. Shoal Bass is preferred for camping but there are definitely better fish to eat out there.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to all the different bass species out there, shoal bass are highly sought after and fun to catch. You should definitely grab some gear and give it a try!

Rocco Smith

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