Kayak anglers pursuing bass in the Southeast are liable to catch several different species depending on where they are fishing. In my area on the Chattahoochee River we have largemouth, shoal bass, and spotted bass. The spotted bass is a firecracker of a fish that strikes hard, jumps a lot, and is incredibly strong.
Spots, as most of us call them, are voracious feeders, and when you catch them they will often have full bellies and be spitting up shad or crawdads as they fight. If an angler is attentive, they will usually notice a group of spots following along the hooked fish and eating this cast off. With quick action from a second rod, multiple hookups happen pretty regularly.
Spots are opportunistic feeders, and will usually be found chasing crawfish in rocky areas or balls of shad. They do not shy from moving water, and can be caught anywhere from rushing shoals to flat open water. They also tolerate deep water well, where techniques like a drop shot or a jigging spoon can come in handy. Slow-crawling crawdad imitations in moving water can be very effective, and shad imitations in the same area can lead to some powerful strikes.
In late summer, the topwater action really heats up. Schools of spots are chasing the clouds of baitfish on our area lakes. Small topwater baits are the best, and “matching the hatch” will help lead to success. If the fish go deep, drop a jigging spoon or heavy tail spinner down to pick up the stragglers.
This schooling action can also be a great time to break out the fly rods, and a white pencil-type popper can be deadly. For subsurface activity, a small Clouser-style minnow stripped slowly is very effective. For those of you that tie your own flies, a small flash of red is a real attractor for the spotted bass. Any fly outfit can be used, but a 5wt or 6wt is a perfect balance between “effective” and “just plain fun”.
The spot is a prolific breeder – to the point that they are unfortunately problematic for the largemouth in some of our lakes. Being that prolific has helped them become a great self-sustaining resource for those of us that like a fish dinner from time to time. They are great table fare, with mild white meat that is close to that of the crappie or bluegill.
The spotted bass is an excellent fighter, and any fish from two pounds and up will give you a serious struggle. Four pounds is getting on the large side of our average, and five to six pounds is a bragging size in any circle. Anglers have to love a cooperative fish that is strong, tastes good, and can repopulate quickly without restocking. If you have never chased the spotted bass, get it on your list of fish to catch – you can thank me later.