View Full Version : shoal bass below Morgan Falls dam
In the AJC on Sunday, I saw a reply by Lisa Klein to a reader asking about the population of shoalies below Morgan Falls. She responded that there were shoal bass in that stretch of the river and that the population was recently established, possibly through illegal stocking. Hold on a second...shoal bass are native to the Chattahoochee watershed and are caught throughout the entire system...even near Helen according to one of the guys at Unicoi. While it makes sense that shoal bass would be scarce or absent from the upper tailwater due to the water temperatures, I would assume that the water at Morgan Falls has warmed sufficiently to make the shoal bass happy. They seem to be more tolerant of cooler water than most bass..in my brief experience I have observed them feeding actively at water temperatures down to 55 degrees (I have caught them when it was cooler than that, but they were by no means active). I know from Jimmy Jacobs' bass book that they have been taken from Morgan Falls Lake. My questions to the more experienced guys out there are:
1. Was Mrs. Klein correct in stating that the population developed only recently?
2. Is there a fishable population or are they incidental in this stretch of the river?
3. How is it illegal to release endemic fish within their natural range?
4. Are there any Atlanta-area tributaries of the Chattahoochee that hold shoalies? I am strictly catch-and-release....email me if you like...
I appreciate any help on the above...
07-10-00, 04:00 PM
I've gotten blasted on this one and rightly so.
I personally have not shocked any shoalies up below Morgan Falls nor have I caught any. After receiving several reports of nice shoal bass and seeing some pics of these fish (all in the last 6-9 mos), I extolled their virtues in the "ask the expert column". After that column appeared, another DNR employee very familiar with the river told me that they didn't used to be in that section of the river and that they may be there now because of introductions from anglers.
I am well aware that they are found in other areas on the Hooch (mostly downstream), but since I haven't been here as long as the other person, I took their word for it. I always try to take the opportunity to inform anglers of their responsibilities towards preserving the integrity of the stream/lake etc.. they fish, including no bait bucket intros (hence the lecture on illegal intros). For the record, I did check two distribution maps, and neither showed shoal bass as being in the immediate area. However, today many people have informed me that they were found up in shoals near Buford Dam before it was built (which means they were probably in the section below MFD as well).
Thirty slaps of the wet noodle for me, I guess we can't all be perfect http://www.georgia-outdoors.com/ubbngto/smile.gif Keep me honest guys!
Thanks a lot for the info! Keep up the good work.
The Morgan Falls area used to be a fairly good largemouth area in the early 90's. In fact it was a multispecies honey hole until about 96'. Pickeral, largemouth, stripers, crappie, bream, Browns, Rainbows, and perch were all possible on any given day. However, something changed 97' and that all came to an end. I still don't understand it because the water temp problem that eliminated the trout should not have bothered the bass.
Further down river, starting at Six Flags I used to catch a brassy colored bass that was identical to a shoalie, but didn't have any markings on it's sides. It's jaw hinge stopped in front of the eye, and I never caught one over two pounds. I just assumed that it was the Hooch version of the shoalie. About 1995, the area below Six Flags begin an unfortunate dramatic change in its bass population as spots from West Point Lake begin making their way upriver displacing the largemouth. As a result the thrill of catching the "big bass" has all but disappeared in this area.
07-11-00, 08:30 PM
For what it's worth, around '72 or '73 my buddy landed a 3lb.+ bass with a dark green back, vertical black stripes and red eyes. In fifteen years of drifting from Morgan Falls to I-285, that was the only bass of its type we caught. Lots of largemouth, but no more striped fish.
Personally I have spent a lot of time this year below Morgan Falls trying to figure out if there is really anything there or not. Everytime I have fished it this year I have been pretty disappointed. Other than the occasional large trout (and I mean VERY occasional) I have seen few other species. A few medium sized panfish and some tiny largemouth. Down further from the Dam, in the whitewater creek area there seem to still be a good population of fingerling trout, but most (actually ALL in my experience) are under 10".
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