This dude (Drew Gregory) has caught some big shoalies!
I mentioned in my blog yesterday, our goal when we made it to GA on Friday was to scout a few rivers. After that, we had planned to go catch a shoalie. Unfortunatley, it took us all day to find a spot we wanted to fish. At our very last stop Bill landed a fish that looked like a shoalie, but not quite. It had a lateral line, but also a tongue patch. Was it a shoalie, a spollie, spargemouth (ok that was a reach) or something else. It turns out, a lot is still not known about the shoal bass and a lot of hybridization is taking place with other species. In all likelihood, I think it was a spot hybrid of some sort. About 10 minutes later my crankbait got creamed coming through an eddy. I knew from the way the fish was shaking it's head that it was a big gal.
She ran across the pool and jumped, exposing her back. Right away I knew she was in the 5-6 lb range and my blood was pumping. I could tell from the color of her back and markings that she was not a spot or a largemouth. She came to the surface again briefly and with another massive head shake she threw the hook. That fish is one that will haunt me for a while and is one that convinced me to buy a hook sharpener. Could it have been that my very first shoalie experience was with a giant?
Guys like Sean Brodie (of Canepole Adventures and the Jackson Kayak Fishing team) have big shoalies dialed in
The next day I was very optimistic, but also a little worried. I mean, how often do you catch (or in this case almost catch) a giant fish and then catch another giant the next day. Well, my first fish was no giant, but he was a shoal bass or at least a hybrid of some sort. The 14" fish nailed my R&S Baits Chatterbuzz. He fought like crazy and eventually came to hand. I noticed he had very sharp teeth and beautiful colors.
My next fish was only about 9" and hit a crankbait. I got him out of the water, but he flopped off the hook before I could grab him. I didn't really care at the time because I knew it wasn't big enough to help my tournament limit, but suddenly I found myself thinking - what the heck was that? Bill was thinking the same thing. It looked like a smallmouth, a rare species for central GA. Whether it was a smallie, shoalie, redeye, or some sort of hybrid I will never know, but man, those central GA rivers must be a nightmare (or maybe a thrill) for fisheries biologists!
My first "big" shoalie!
I then went on to land a lot of spotted bass, until finally pulling the 19" brute that I spoke of yesterday. The fish probably only weighed about 3 lbs, but she was gorgeous and had been eating pretty well. Again, I am not 100% sure if she was a hybrid or straight shoalie, but she was beautiful and she made my day, week, and month!
If you love bass fishing and river fishing, like I do, then I recommend taking a week and fishing the gorgeous rivers of GA. I know I wish I would have had more time to spend down there exploring, paddling, and chasing monster shoal bass. Until next time, tight lines!