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).
Thanks to large amounts of rain from multiple tropical storms, water levels in the Chipola River are high and waters will likely remain high for some time. You can check online for daily river levels and flow information. Once water levels normalize, fish should be active on the Chipola River this fall. The Chipola River is the best river in Florida to target Shoal Bass. For those anglers targeting shoal bass try fishing in, above, and below shoal areas between Magnolia Bridge and Johnny Boy landing. The best baits for shoal bass are artificial baits that mimic crayfish, like small crankbaits. 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 of the Shoal Bass. Shoal bass are typically found in rocky areas with fast moving water while Largemouth Bass are often found in slower moving water and near woody structures. Anglers should always be mindful of the rocky limestone shoals and snags in the river. Anglers should be cautious as log jams and other navigational hazards may have changed.
Largemouth Bass can also be found in these areas but are more concentrated below Highway 20 or in deeper sandy pools around snags. Largemouth can be caught using the same baits as Shoal Bass. Redbreast Sunfish, Bluegill and stumpknockers (Spotted Sunfish) can also be found in these areas and can be caught using 1/16oz beetle spins and/ or worms; they will also be caught on small crayfish lures. Anglers fly fishing should fish early morning or late afternoon for bass and bream (Bluegill, Spotted Sunfish, and Redear Sunfish). Try a “popper-dropper” combination around areas of slow-moving current.
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!