This river is home to the unique shoal bass. When fishing for shoal bass, follow the same bag and minimum size regulations as those listed for other black bass such as largemouth 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).
Anglers should always be mindful of the rocky limestone shoals and snags in the river. The river is still low and travel upstream through shallow, swift shoals may be impossible so anglers should plan accordingly. View daily river levels and flow.
Anglers should also be mindful of fallen trees and other debris, especially in the reaches above the shoals. For those anglers targeting shoal bass try fishing in, above, and below shoal areas between Magnolia Bridge and Johnny Boy landing. Largemouth bass can be found in these areas but are more concentrated below Highway 20. Construction on the new bridge at Highway 20 is still underway. 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. Shoal bass often move to deep holes below or above shoals containing limestone shelves during the hotter months. Best baits for shoal bass include broken-back minnow lure or artificial baits that mimic crayfish. Catch-and-release is recommended for this unique fish species. Largemouth bass can be caught using the same baits as shoal bass including live shiners.
There are plenty of redbreast and stumpknockers (spotted sunfish) in the river around shallow water snags and stumps. Try fishing with an unweighted worm or using 1/16oz beetle spins. Redbreast sunfish may also be caught using crayfish lures. Fly fishermen should fish early morning or late afternoon for bass and bream (bluegill, spotted sunfish, and redear sunfish). Boat ramps, particularly Johnny Boy and Magnolia Bridge, are often crowded on weekend afternoons with swimmers and tubers.
There is not a certified state record shoal bass at this time. A shoal bass that is 4 pounds or greater may be considered a state record fish. To certify a state-record fish, it must be legally caught and inspected by a FWC biologist and weighed on a certified scale. If you believe you have caught a record fish, keep it alive or place it in ice water. Do not freeze the fish because it will lose weight when thawed. As soon as possible, call the nearest FWC office to arrange to have a fisheries biologist meet with you.
Anglers should also consider participating in the Big Catch Freshwater Slam
program. While fishing on the Chipola River, anglers may catch 3 species of bass (largemouth bass, shoal bass, and spotted bass) out of the 4 species of bass required to qualify for the “Bass Slam” certificate.