Like birdwatchers, many anglers travel to add fish species to their angling life lists.
Our own beloved strain of “bucketmouth” bass garnishes the lion’s share of the freshwater attention. Thanks to good genes and year-round sunshine, we grow largemouth big bass faster here than anywhere else. The state record is a whopping 17.27 pounds, and even larger fish have been documented but not certified. Click here for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission’s top-rated lakes.
The newly described Choctow bass (Micropterus haiaka) was an exciting scientific discovery. After testing specimens from northwest Florida’s Chipola River in 2007, FWRI scientists encountered a DNA profile that did not belong to any known bass species. By early 2009, scientists had discovered the same genetic profile in bass populations inhabiting the Choctawhatchee, Yellow, Blackwater, Escambia, Conecuh and Perdido rivers.
Shoal bass are beautiful fish. They sport vertical stripes above the midline of the body, which resemble tiger stripes. They get pretty big, too. The state record is 7.8 pounds. According to FWC, “The best destination to catch shoal bass in Florida is the Chipola River.” It’s part of the Chipola River Paddle Trail.
Micropterus punctulatus are small but mighty and aggressive. The state record is 3.75 pounds. The spotted bass is restricted to streams of the panhandle from the Perdido River to the Apalachicola River, occurring primarily to the west of the Choctawhatchee River.
If you like fishing in moving water, especially spring-fed creeks and rivers, then come catch some of these stocky, aggressive bass. Originally restricted to the Suwannee and Ochlockonee rivers, they now are in the Santa Fe, Ichetucknee, St. Marks, Aucilla and Wacissa systems. They prefer rapidly flowing water along rocky shoals.