Daylight savings time has rolled clocks forward and we can think of only one way to use the extra light –go fishing. This spring, we are releasing a series of blogs exploring all of Georgia’s black basses. This week, we’ll take a look at how you can land a Chattahoochee bass with some help of Dr. Steve Sammons, Fisheries Research Professor at Auburn University.
Chattahoochee bass were originally found throughout the upper Chattahoochee River basin from Columbus, Georgia, upstream to the headwaters. Land-use changes, damming, and hybridization with non-native basses has largely impacted where you can find them now.
How big do they get?
Between 5-12 inches long.
Where you can find them:
The best place to catch one is the mainstem of the Chattahoochee upstream of Lake Lanier. The area downstream of Helen comes highly recommended. You can also find them in smaller numbers in a few tributaries of the Chattahoochee River upstream of West Point Lake. If you want to fish outside of the Hooch, the Chestatee River upstream of Lake Lanier is another good place to try. Dog River, Snake Creek, Centralhatchee Creek, and Hillabahatchee Creek, also have Chattahoochee bass but many of those fish are hybrids with non-native bass. Where ever you go, head to flowing water since these fish are not fans of lakes or reservoirs.
Public access points:
The best public access for these fish is probably in the upper Chattahoochee River above Lake Lanier. Float trips using small kayaks or canoes can be made between bridge crossings and all of these floats will pass through prime Chattahoochee bass habitat. For anglers that prefer to wade, Buck Shoals WMA and Mossy Creek likely the best places to target these fish. Most land along the streams they prefer is privately owned. You should always gain landowner permission before wading these streams!
Click here for an interactive map of where to find Chattahoochee bass and public access points.
How to fish them:
Chattahoochee bass like rocky habitat with flowing water, so concentrate on these areas. They can also be caught around wood and undercut banks.
Lures you should use:
Since they’re small fish, light tackle or fly gear will make this fish fun to catch. They’ll strike at a variety of lures so give small jigs, grubs, crankbaits, minnow plugs, and 4” plastic worms a try. They will aggressively strike topwater lures, especially in the summer. Great topwater lures to use are tiny torpedos or small chuggers. Good flies for these fish include wooly buggers, small crayfish imitators, and cork poppers. Natural colors such as green pumpkin, watermelon seed, or other shades of green, brown, and black are safe bets.
Recommendations from Steve:
“I floated the Chattahoochee River below Helen, Georgia, last year and caught a selection of Chattahoochee bass and shoal bass, all on a 4” dropshot worm in watermelonseed. I also caught one on a small crayfish-colored crankbait. I was successful using similar lures in wading in small streams closer to West Point Lake. The challenge is trying to finding streams that hold good populations of these fish, but once you find them, they are not hard to catch.”
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