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).
Bream fishing (Redear, Bluegill, Redbreast, and Spotted Sunfish) should be fair to good throughout the winter and early spring. Try fishing deep water “holes” in midwinter and the shallows around snags and stumps in early March. Recommended baits for bream are beetle-spins, worms, and crickets. Largemouth Bass and Shoal Bass fishing will slow through January and should pick up between mid-February and early March. In the winter, try fishing deep areas of the river and backwaters with diving crankbaits worked slowly. Recommended baits for largemouth bass fishing include artificial lizards, dark worms, spinner baits, and lures and artificial that mimic crayfish. State record Shoal Bass have been caught in the Chipola River. Hurricane Michael severely reduced the number of Shoal Bass in the Chipola River. For those anglers still interested in targeting Shoal Bass try fishing the deep holes 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 and plastic creature baits. All shoal bass in the Chipola River and its tributaries must be released immediately. 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. A few Black Crappie (i.e., speckled perch) can be caught in deep holes around snags during the winter and spring with crappie minnows. Fly-fishing for Bluegill and Largemouth Bass should pick up in March in the early morning or late afternoon.
Fish graphics by Duane Raver, Jr.
More species information is available for:
Largemouth bass, Shoal bass, Spotted bass, Bluegill, Redear sunfish, Redbreast sunfish, Sunshine bass, Striped bass, Black crappie, Channel catfish
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!