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Perseverance and a New Species


Buzzbaiter

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When it comes to bass fishing, winter has not been kind to me. The new year marked the start of a skunkfest that I wasn’t able to shake until today. When I woke up, I didn’t feel like going out. The forecast in Blountstown (which is in the same general area as the spot I fished) was 28/46, which is a sharp drop from the last few days. Still, I dragged myself out of bed and made the three hour drive to the Chipola River.

 

I started by hopping a Jackall TN50. It took getting hung up three times for me to realize that there were a lot of snags in the river, and that it wasn’t worth tossing a $15 treble hook bait. Since I’m bank fishing, whatever gets stuck down there stays there. I switched to a tube (Dry Creek Tournament Tube, Old Ugly) and fished it about the same way, only slower. I was focusing on areas that had current and seams, but weren’t too fast. After walking the riverbank for a while, I dropped my tube into a seam and let it drift. When I went to pick it up, I thought I got it hung up—at least until I felt a head shake.

 

I cranked down and the fight started. Despite being in cold water, this fish was strong. It went on a few short runs (more like short bursts of speed), and made wide shakes. When I pulled the fish close, I saw it had its characteristic vertical markings and a distinctive tail spot. It was a shoal bass!

 

IMG_7220.jpeg.19a9880c5aa11f6300134994cabfa8b8.jpeg
 

It was a solid one, too. It felt every bit of 2lbs, maybe 3. Unfortunately, the hook set in the gills, which left the fish bleeding. I took the above picture and released it quickly. It swam off strong enough, but I don’t know if it survived. It sucks, but it can’t be helped.

 

After catching my first shoal bass, I kept working the river downstream. I switched presentations to see if they wanted anything else, but the fish had no interest jerkbaits, grubs, or worms. I switched back to a tube (this time in a bluegill flash pattern) and continued drifting the river bottom around current. This produced another bass, a largemouth.IMG_7221.jpeg.592be945d2c00252d0a304696bc95bbf.jpeg

 

The largemouth wasn’t big, but it was a confidence boost to see that the shoal bass wasn’t a fluke, and that I was on some sort of pattern. Unfortunately, the fishing was slow, and the snags abundant. I continued fishing for some more time until I had broken off all my jigheads. I switched to a Texas rigged worm, but didn’t find any more fish.
 

Regardless, I enjoyed today and look forward to coming back to the Chipola. I can’t wait for the water to warm up enough to start wading. This would give me access to more of the river, and put me within casting distance of a lot more fish. Additionally, I’d like to see how shoal bass fight in warmer water. That fish put up a lot of resistance for cold water. I imagine a shoal bass caught in 70* water would go ballistic. I’m sure I’ll find out this spring 😁.

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  • Super User

Awesome shoal! Don’t see that version of micropterus show up very often. 

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Sounds like a great day- other than a 3 hour drive. 😉

 

I've fished a tube twice in my life (excluding the few times I used crappie tubes). The first time was in the dead of winter a few years ago and I caught 2 or 3 large bass on it while my family wasn't catching a thing. The second time was in the heat of summer and nothing bit so I shoved them to the back of the tackle closet. I had forgotten all about them until this thread. I may need to try one again this winter and see what happens. 

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That's a gorgeous shoal bass and that's a species that's on my bucket list for sure!  Congratulations on that beautiful fish!

 

If it gives you any consolation, I've caught a lot of fish that you can tell survived gill related trauma.  I feel like gut hooking is more likely to up and kill a fish.

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  • Super User

I think the shoal survived. As I understand it, the coagulants in the blood of bass need water to work. So, it will bleed out of water, but stop once released. Beautiful bass!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I too am beginning to fall in love with tubes on slow, cool days.
Not caught anything big yet, but that’s just because of the pond I’m fishing.

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