When I was first started looking for a location to catch a Chattahoochee bass, my mind focused in on tributaries of the upper Chattahoochee. My pre-conceived notions pictured this fish dwelling in a north Georgia stream, sharing crystal-clear water with the likes of stocked trout. Luckily, I had the knowledge of black bass biologist, Andrew Taylor, at my disposal. Given that I was driving back from the Florida state line, I was hopeful of finding the southernmost location possible. To my surprise, Andrew informed me that a decent population of Chattahoochee bass were in a location close to where I grew up – Snake Creek in Carroll County. This creek flows into the Chattahoochee River and is different from most Piedmont streams today because it hasn’t been decimated by sedimentation. The water runs clear and is prime habitat for this redeye bass variant.
I let out a yelp of excitement when I first walked down to the water and saw how “fishy” it looked. I approached the water with my slack already out and ready to cast. Almost immediately, I spied a spotted bass and placed my woolybugger ever so carefully a few feet from his face. WHAM! He dashed for the fly as soon as it hit the water and inhaled it. Another species on my Georgia Bass Slam list. It was going to be a good day. I continued to walk as far downstream as I could, hitting every hole that looked to contain bass. I was catching spots and redbreast sunfish at every stop, but I began to get nervous about hooking up with a red-tail.
As I approached the last accessible stretch of the creek, I knew, this was it. If the Chattahoochee bass was anywhere, it was going to be tucked against this boulder in a riffle, which filled the pool where I stood. While my first cast was a dud, the second one was right on the money. I felt a tug and set the hook. The fish put a nice bend in my 5 weight. When he leapt out of the water and gave a classic bass head shake, I saw the flashes of red on his dorsal and caudal fin and instantly recognized this species. The pressure turned on to get this fish in the net. I landed him smoothly, and after verifying the species, I did a little dance for no one, except the deer that had blown at me ten minutes earlier and this 9 ½-inch beauty. I took the pictures necessary to qualify me for the Slam, and gently released my new friend back into his home to continue gobbling up minnows and unfortunate insects.
This bass brings me up to five caught species, and I am absolutely ecstatic that it was the rare Chattahoochee bass. Georgia waters are home to some remarkable fish and I am very thankful to call this state home. And, even though today’s catch marks my “completion” of the Georgia Bass Slam, I just don’t quite feel at ease with leaving another 5 species uncaught.
Follow along on my next entry as I visit the Flint River in search of a 15+ inch Shoal Bass.
For those keeping tabs: Georgia Bass Slam Summary- so far:
- Caught: 5 (Bartram’s, Smallmouth, Largemouth, Spotted, Chattahoochee)
- Failed: 1 (Suwannee) – but I will keep trying!
- Remaining: 4 (Tallapoosa, Shoal, Coosa, Altamaha)
Tyler Lipham, 4th year student at the Dental College of Georgia, previously graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife from the Warnell School of Forestry. In his free time, he enjoys any and all things dealing with wild waters and woods.