Did you know Georgia has more native black bass species than any other state in the country? It’s no wonder Georgia has held the largemouth bass world record since 1932 and is dubbed the Black Bass Capital of the World. The black bass includes species like largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, Suwannee, redeye and shoal bass. Recently, however, fish biologists have been looking more closely at the black bass family and identified new species, like the Chattahoochee bass and the Tallapoosa bass.
In the spring of 2018 we are releasing a series of blogs exploring all of Georgia’s black basses. In this first blog of the series we dive into how you can hook a Bartram’s bass with the help of former fisheries chief, John Biagi.
How big do they get?
Between 5-16 inches long.
Where you can find them:
Bartram’s bass are found throughout the Savannah River basin from Augusta and above. Historically, they could be caught in Lake Hartwell on rip rap at the dam, but the introduction of spotted bass has reduced their numbers. This fish can be found throughout northeast Georgia and can be caught in the Chattooga, Broad, South Fork of Broad River, and Savannah River in Augusta.
Public access points:
There’s good public access to the Chattooga and Savannah rivers on either the Georgia or South Carolina sides of the river. You can fish the South Carolina side with a Georgia fishing license so make sure to give both spots a try. This is big water, so be careful if you plan to fish for Bartram’s in this river. There is wading access to the Augusta shoals complex from either the Savannah Rapids Pavilion in Columbia County or by parking at the Augusta Water Works Station and walking north along the Augusta Canal towpath for one mile.
Click here for an interactive map of where to find Bartram’s bass and public access points.
How to fish them:
They like rocky habitat with flowing water, so concentrate on these areas.
Lures you should use:
Natural color Zoom finesse worms such as green pumpkin or watermelon seed work well. Watermelon/chartreuse tail are also safe bets. Fish them or any other small worms on a 1/8 ounce shakeyhead rigged weedless. Small spinners such as Roostertails or Satilla spins and floating Rapalas work well on light spinning gear. Fly rod anglers should use streamers and poppers.
Recommendations from John:
“I targeted Bartram’s bass at Watson Mill State Park outside of Comer, GA. The park surrounds the South Fork of the Broad River. It provides safe public access for just the cost of their parking pass. There is an historic mill on the Park and below the mill dam is a large rocky shoal complex. They don’t let you access the water right below the dam, but there is a trail on the south side of the river that gives you access to the fish. No need for a canoe or kayak for this site as wading will get you plenty of shots at a Bartram’s here. You won’t be fishing all day at this site as the river is pretty small, but it will help you punch your ticket for another bass in the slam. I was successful using a 4″ trick worm on an 1/8th oz shaky head.”
Find out more about the Bartram’s Bass here: http://georgiawildlife.com/fishing/identification#bartrams
So you want to catch a bass slam in Georgia. The rules for the slam can be found here: http://georgiawildlife.com/fishing/angler-resources/GeorgiaBassSlam. Largemouth and spotted bass are easy to find in just about any reservoir in the state, but where do you find the others? The key is to fish rivers and streams. The other Georgia bass species aren’t found in ponds and reservoirs. The smallmouth can be caught in both streams and reservoirs, but your best bet for a Georgia bronzeback is flowing water. Stream fish are in reach of anyone willing to get a little wet or who have a canoe or kayak.