Effective June 2019, harvest and possession of Shoal Bass in the Chipola River and tributaries of the Chipola River is prohibited. Anglers may fish for Shoal Bass, but all caught Shoal Bass must be immediately released. The Shoal Bass population in the Chipola River and its tributaries have been negatively affected due to the impacts of Hurricane Michael. Recent sampling efforts have produced significantly lower catches of Shoal Bass. Anglers may still possess Largemouth Bass.
This river is home to the unique shoal bass. 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.
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).
NOTE: You can check online for daily river levels and flow information.
Anglers should be mindful of the rocky shoals and snags (logs and other woody material) in this river. 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. FWC issued an executive order on June 5, 2019, suspending the harvest and possession of shoal bass from the Chipola River and its tributaries effective immediately until the order is repealed. Anglers are still permitted to catch and immediately release shoal bass. View the news release for additional information. 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.
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!