Friday, October 14, 2011

Flint River Shoal Bass Trip

Last week I cashed in a standing invitation from Henry Jackson of Flint River Kayak Fishing to drive over to lower Georgia and go fly fishing for shoal bass.  This regional bass species had been on my radar for the past couple years and I was looking forward to putting the Diablo Chupacabra in the river for a wade and paddle trip.

I drove over to the Flint River the night before and crashed in the Element at a nearby wildlife management area.  In a pinch the Element's front and back seats fold together to make for quite a comfortable bed.  I was asleep after midnight and then up a few hours later.  Henry wanted to get an early start and we met up at the river just as it was starting to get light.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

After dropping the kayaks in the river we paddled a bit and fished a side channel where we both picked up a few shoal and spotted bass to start the day.  I caught a larger than average shoal bass that rose to a popper that I cast upriver into the slack water off the edge of a riffle.  The take was definite and after a several minute fight I lifted the fish from the river to find the popper deep in the roof of it's mouth.  The beauty and spirited fight of the shoal bass is real.

The day continued and was a mix of paddling short stretches of the river and then wet wading likely riffles and runs.  We caught a mix of shoal and spotted bass along with a few eager bluegills as well.  What was making everything so pleasant, a warm sun filled and nearly cloudless day, was also putting the big fish down as far as we could tell.  We picked up a few fish here and there but things certainly weren't as productive as when we first started the day.  Where is cloud cover when you need it most?

By late afternoon the sun had finally dropped enough that there were shadows across the river.  We entered a long stretch of water that Henry knew to hold some very large shoal bass and on the second pass through the run I cast a chartreuse green bugger with a rubber tail into the river and instantly I felt a strong tug that began a several minute fight.  When it was all done a green on green striped shoal bass was in my hands that was well over three pounds.  Quite an exhilarating battle and after a few photos the shoal bass was released.  My day was complete.

We fished an hour or so longer with a few more tugs but no fish hooked.  No worries since it was a great day and I was able to mark shoal bass off the list with a couple definitive fish.  l still had a four hour drive ahead of me and we paddled the last thirty minutes to the take out, packed up the kayaks and gear, and returned to where we put in to transfer Henry's kayak to the roof of his truck.  In and all we were on the water for over twelve hours.  I was left a little sore from the rock hopping and with a bit to much sun on my skin as well but no less excited to have caught yet another bass species.

The Chupacabra did excellent on the river and ended up a few new beauty marks on the trip from banging around the rocky shoals.  I stood up for a large portion of the day and it's such a great vantage when fishing moving water to see where fish may be and to cast standing up as well.

Henry paddles a Jackson Kayaks Coosa and it looked to be a well designed river kayak with a raised and comfortable metal frame seat (that doubled as a camp chair at lunch), stability to easily stand up, and a mix of other features that really impressed me.  I'd like to paddle on of these at some point and compare to the other kayaks in the T.F.M. fleet.

There is no doubt is Henry Jackson knows the Flint River.  I was impressed throughout the day with his knowledge of the river system and it's fish.  Henry grew up five minutes away from the river and as a child tagged along with his father on shoal bass trips in their family's canoe.  Years later Henry started fly fishing the Flint River from a kayak and began guiding anglers at age fifteen.  Now at age twenty-two Henry is a college student, successful stock market investor, shop rat at The Outside World, Jackson Kayak fishing team member, and part time guide with his business Flint River Kayak Fishing.  He's squared away in many aspects of his life and not what you'd expect when you think "fish bum".

Want to knock shoal bass off your list as well?  Check out the Flint River Kayak Fishing website and contact Henry through email or by telephone at 706-604-5485


OneBugIsFake said...

First(?), and still supremely jealous! I can't wait for my shot!

Zach.yurchuck said...


I'm excited you got to see how special those little fish are in person! Congrats on the fine specimens landed, you couldn't have picked a better guide!

Anonymous said...

I want to fish with Henry soon! My cousin Chris Funk and son Ethan fish with him pretty often and I'm getting tired of seeing pics of.those shoalies...want to see one on the end of my line. More than a little envious!

HighPlainsFlyFisher said...

Nice post , those shoal bass are some really cool fish. First time on your site and I found it very interesting and informative. The wife won't be happy've got me looking into a new glass flyrod now!!

Fontinalis Rising said...

Incredibly cool fish there Cameron, two regional species I've always wanted to try for. It's also great to see a personal outing in the T.F.M. mix. Great photos too, thanks for sharing.

Cameron Mortenson said... very jealous. HA... It was a neat trip for sure.

Zach...I agree. Get over and get your fix.

shesamaniyak...Henry will get you fixed up for sure.

HPFF...please tell her that there are worse vices than glass fly rods.

FR...thanks. I really like mixing a trip into the content as well. Feel like I can shake poser status from time to time. HA...