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Chipola River

Calhoun County


This river is home to the unique shoal bass. Note that shoal bass regulations changed this past year and are detailed below. The Chipola River is accessible in Marianna off CR 280 (Magnolia Rd), Peacock Bridge Rd (located north of Sink Creek), SR 274 west of Altha on Hamilton Spring Rd, and SR 20 at Clarksville. This very scenic, spring-fed coldwater river stretches about 95 miles starting just north of Marianna and running south through the Dead Lake and into the Apalachicola River. The Chipola River has fast water shoals and provides excellent sunfish (redbreast, redear and bluegill) fishing in the spring depending on the water level. Boat operators should be cautious of these shallow limestone shoals while running your boat in this river during low water.

Local information on these rivers and their fishes may be obtained from the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management, Northwest Regional Office (850-265-3676). Information regarding canoe, kayak, and tube float trips on the Chipola River can be obtained from Chipola River Outfitters (850-762-2800 or 850-381-6062) or Bear Paw Adventures (850-482-4948). Bear Paw Adventures is closed during the winter but will reopen March 1st.

Statewide bag and length limits for black bass are: 5 Black bass (including largemouth, Suwannee, spotted, Choctaw, and shoal bass, individually or in total), only one of which may be 16 inches or longer in total length. There is no statewide minimum length limit for largemouth bass. There is a 12 inch minimum length limit for shoal bass, Choctaw bass, and spotted bass. Anglers should also note that there is a catch and release only conservation zone for shoal bass between Peacock Bridge and Johnny Boy Landing. Anglers may possess largemouth bass in this section.

Anglers should always be mindful of the rocky limestone shoals and snags in the river. During low river levels travel upstream through shallow, swift shoals may be impossible so anglers should plan accordingly. View daily river levels and flow.

Local information on these rivers and their fishes may be obtained from the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management, Northwest Regional Office (850-265-3676).

Anglers should be mindful of the rocky shoals and snags (logs and other woody material) in this river. Current water levels throughout Florida may be found at USGS daily river levels and flow. Bream fishing (redear, bluegill, redbreast, and spotted sunfish) should be good throughout the spring as fish begin to spawn. Try fishing shallow backwater areas for bluegill and redear and around snags and stumps in the river for spotted and redbreast sunfish. Recommended baits for bream are beetle-spins, worms and crickets. A few crappie (speckled perch) can be caught in deep holes around snags during the spring with crappie minnows. Try to plan your fishing trips for early morning or late afternoon.

Largemouth bass and shoal bass fishing will pick up as bass spawn March through April. Try fishing shallow areas in the river with spinner baits, artificial lizards, dark worms, and artificial crayfish. Shoal bass can be caught above Highway 20 in shoal areas as well as pools just above and below the shoals using crankbaits that mimic crayfish. Shoal bass in the Chipola River are mostly found between Spring Creek and Johnny Boy Landing. A catch and release (conservation zone) for shoal bass exists between Peacock Bridge and Johnny Boy Landing. This section of the river contains the highest ratios of shoal bass to largemouth bass and contains the greatest percentage of shoal bass spawning habitat. Anglers will be allowed to possess largemouth bass in the conservation zone. Catch and release is recommended for all shoal bass regardless of where they are caught as it is a unique species of black bass. Anglers must release shoal bass less than 12 inches in sections of the river other than the conservation zone. There is no minimum length limit for largemouth bass, but only 1 of the 5 legally kept black bass (shoal bass or largemouth bass) may be 16 inches or longer in total length. Shoal bass can be distinguished from largemouth bass by the vertical stripes. Furthermore, the jaw in largemouth bass extends past the eye. See the shoal bass species profile for a description of this fish.

Popular Species

Popular Sport Fish Species

Fish graphics by Duane Raver, Jr.

More species information is available for:

Largemouth bass, Shoal bassSpotted bassBluegill, Redear sunfish, Redbreast sunfishSunshine bassStriped bassBlack crappie, Channel catfish

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TrophyCatch Tracker

TrophyCatch is FWC's citizen-science program that rewards anglers for documenting and releasing trophy bass 8 pounds or larger.

Be the first to submit a trophy bass from the Chipola River!