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Suwannee Bass: Identification and Fisherman’s Guide

Suwannee bass swims through the waterways of Florida and Georgia. It grows to be just under one foot long.

fisherman fighting a suwannee bass on a rod and reel

At times, people can mistake this Suwannee bass for other common bass varieties. These include smallmouth bass and spotted bass.

Species Description

Suwannee bass has two parts to its dorsal fin. One is spiny and the other is soft. These fins have a clear connection.

They also feature a prominent notch. The base of these scales is covered in scales.

A dark line runs the length of the Suwannee bass’ body. This mark has a series of vertical blotches.

The jaw of Suwannee bass is not very pronounced. It reaches just below the eye but does not continue past the eye.

How to Identify

The most notable identification feature of Suwannee bass is its patches of turquoise. This color appears on the cheeks, breast, and belly of a mature Suwannee bass.

History

This species is native only to a small area of Florida and Georgia. This original range includes the eponymous Suwannee river, the Ochlockonee River, and their tributaries.

In more recent times, people have introduced Suwannee bass to a few more regional river systems.

World Record

The world record for Suwannee bass is three pounds and 14.25 ounces. This catch occurred in 1985 in the Suwannee River.

Life Cycle

Male Suwannee bass lives to be nine years old. Females live a bit longer at 12 years. Females also tend to grow faster and larger than males.

This growth and lifespan begin in the ideal spawning period. This can occur at any time between February to June.

However, the optimal setting is where the water temperature is between 64 and 66 degrees. This happens most often between April and May.

Habitat

Most often, you’ll find Suwannee bass living in shallow areas where the water moves quickly.

They also typically prefer slightly alkaline water. This kind of water is most common where springs bubble out of limestone.

Diet

A mature Suwannee bass will eat a variety of shellfish including crayfish. At times, they also eat some other smaller fishes.

Young Suwannee basses are more likely to feed on insects.

Threats

Perhaps the most pressing threat to the Suwannee bass is its limited native habitat. As mentioned above this fish is native only to Florida and Georgia.

The loss of habitat in that region leads to a diminished population of Suwannee bass.

Poor water quality is also a threat to Suwannee bass populations. Recently, invasive species have entered the Suwannee bass’ range.

Among these is the flathead catfish which threatens many native fish species. This detrimental species is most often found in the Ochlickonee river.

How to Catch 

The Suwannee bass’ diet should give you a good idea of the king of lures you should use.

A dark plastic imitation crayfish works well. So do plastic worms. Suwannee bass will go for both live and artificial bait.

Suwannee bass is rather small. This means it is not the most popular fish for anglers. But despite this small size, Suwannee bass is a lively species.

If you hook one, be prepared for it to put up a fight as you reel it in. Since this bass is a sport fish, you can register some catches with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 

Where to Catch

The best place to begin fishing for Suwannee bass is in shallow parts of river systems in Florida and southern Georgia. In this setting, Suwannee bass often spends time in broad river bends.

Suwannee bass tends to look for covered areas. This can include woody debris in the water like fallen trees. They may also gather behind boulders.

Look for these features as you search a river for Suwannee bass. Larger mature Suwannee basses are more likely to be hiding here.

Younger Suwannee bass may swim in the middle of the river as well. This is most common in shallow areas.

How to Eat 

Cook and eat your Suwannee bass the same way you would for any other freshwater bass.

As you cut open your catch you’ll find the meat to be flakey and white. As you eat later on, you also discover it has a great flavor.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to freshwater fishing, Suwannee Bass are some highly desirable catches and they taste just as good as any other fish you’ll find in a lake or river!

Rocco Smith

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