As I near the end of my third year of dental school, my mind should be fixated with oral pathology, complex treatment planning, and completing graduation requirements. Instead I am as giddy as a 5 year-old girl at a Disney princess convention because my mind is set on one thing: BASS.
Georgia is home to 10 black bass species, each of whom reside in unique habitats and different drainages across the state (except, of course, the welcomed but seemingly omnipresent largemouth bass, which seems to have found a home in every watering hole deep enough to stay wet year-round). The debut of the new Georgia Bass Slam, in which you must catch 5 of 10 eligible species, gives a perfect opportunity to explore the state’s diverse wild waters to see what each of these species has to offer.
In dental school, we get two weeks of summer break. When I found out about the Georgia Bass Slam, I knew exactly how I would spend one week of that break. Wanderlust, not partial dentures and ceramic crowns, consumed my thoughts.
Lucky for me, I currently live in Augusta, GA, home to what I would argue as one of the most beautiful and thriving rivers in the state—the Savannah River. This river is home to an incredible array of fishes, including the Bartram’s, largemouth, and the recently introduced smallmouth bass. Unfortunately, smallies are making a sore impact on the native Bartram’s bass, but I have made the most of an ecologically poor situation and caught several smallies on the river with my fly rod. As soon as I committed to the Georgia Bass Slam, I hit up the Augusta shoals area, catching a smallie and a Bartram’s, knocking two species off the list. While I have eight more to go to catch all ten bass species, I only have three more to complete the Slam.
As I leave the familiar Savannah River, I can hardly contain my excitement about the opportunity to explore several new rivers. The next part of my journey will begin with the Withlacoochee River, located just outside of Valdosta. It is on this river that I plan to pursue Suwannee bass, and probably a largemouth.
Further plans for the week include traveling to my native Carroll County, where I hope to catch a Chattahoochee bass in Snake Creek. Next, I plan to visit the Flint River (Upper Flint , Lower Flint) to try and land a shoalie. Then, I will head to the Tallapoosa for a Tallapoosa bass. I aim to target coosa and spotted bass on the Conasauga, but haven’t yet decided on the upper or lower portion of the river. I will pursue my final fish, the redeye bass, in waters near Athens, GA.
As you can see, I have planned this trip so that I have the potential to catch all 10 species of black bass occurring in Georgia. With a lot of luck, and a little bit of persistence, I hope to land all species by sundown at the end of the week, and by catching all of them on the fly.
I am glad you are along for this virtual trip as I pursue the Georgia Bass Slam. My next journal entry will be after a long day on the Withlacoochee. Until then…