Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Alabama
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Alabama Project

Exploitation and Catch of Shoal Bass in the Lower Flint River Basin and Angler Use, Effort, and Economic Impact of This Fishery

January 2022 - June 2024


Participating Agencies

  • Georgia Department of Natural Resources

The Flint River below Lake Blackshear supports a popular Shoal Bass fishery that is currently managed by a 305-mm minimum-length limit. Hydropeaking flows from Crisp County Dam have reduced Shoal Bass recruitment in the river downstream, prompting GADNR to initiate a stocking program in the 1970s that continues today. Geomorphology of the Flint River changes beginning in this section, characterized by limestone outcroppings, deep channel, and a hydraulic connection to the Upper Floridan aquifer resulting in large groundwater inputs. Approximately 32 km downstream of Crisp County Dam, the Flint River enters the headwaters of Lake Chehaw, created by Albany Dam. Below that dam is a 150-km reach of river that ends at the headwaters of Lake Seminole around Bainbridge, Georgia. This reach is the second-longest undammed section of stream across the entire Shoal Bass range. Hydropeaking flows from Crisp County Dam are reregulated through Albany Dam, and like upstream, these flows have reduced Shoal Bass recruitment in the river downstream, prompting GADNR to stock Shoal Bass. Geomorphology of this reach of the Flint River is similar to the one above, with the addition of numerous springs that add to stream flow and provide summer thermal refugia for species such as Gulf-strain Striped Bass. In the late 1800s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened and maintained a 1-m low-water navigation channel from Albany, Georgia, to Bainbridge, Georgia, to facilitate steamboat and barge navigation . This was accomplished by dredging and blasting shoals, which resulted in man-made rock islands that are still extant today. The effects of these activities on the Shoal Bass population are unknown, but likely have resulted in deeper channels, swifter currents, and possibly exacerbating the impacts of hydropeaking flows.