The Shoal Bass is a species of freshwater fish in the sunfish family (Centrarchidae) of order Perciformes. This species was formerly considered either a Redeye Bass or subspecies of the Redeye Bass. In 1999 it was described as a new species. Shoal Bass feed mainly on aquatic insects on the surface. They also feed on larval insects, crayfish and fish. Shoal Bass grow much faster than Redeye Bass.
The red color of eyes associates this species with the Redeye and Suwannee Bass at first glance. However, it is more closely related morphologically to the Spotted Bass. Shoal Bass are generally olive green to nearly black along the back. A dusky dark blotch about 50 to 67 percent of the size of the eye occurs on the back edge of the gill cover. Three diagonal black lines radiate along the side of the head looking like war paint. Ten to fifteen vertical blotches appear along the sides with tiger-stripes often appearing in between. The belly is creamy or white and wavy lines may appear slightly above the white belly on the sides. The dorsal, caudal and anal fins are dark olive green to grayish black. Pelvic fins may have a cream colored leading edge with dark spots. The Shoal Bass has scales on the base portion of the soft-rayed dorsal fins, clearly connected first and second dorsal fins, and an upper jaw bone that does not extend beyond the eyes. There are no known subspecies of the Shoal Bass.
To catch Shoal Bass, you need to fish near the shoal areas using medium action tackle with 8 to 12 pound(4-6kg) test line. Soft plastic crawfish imitation lures and grubs are good choices. Spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and small crankbaits also work well. Spring and Fall are the best times to fish for Shoal Bass, but fishing can also be good throughout the summer months. They can be caught using worms, minnows, or crayfish as well as small spinners and a wide variety of small surface lures. Some have been known to reach more than eight pounds(4kg). As a sport fish, specific bag and size limit regulations apply, and you can register a qualifying catch as part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's "Big Catch" program. Shoal Bass are also popular targets for fly fishers, who find them easy to access in their preferred river environments. The practice of fly fishing for Shoal Bass is becoming more widespread.
The Shoal Bass is becoming increasingly uncommon in the Apalachicola and Chipola Rivers because so few shoals exist and competition with non-native Spotted Bass has increased. It is also known in the Chattahoochee river drainage; and is most plentiful in the relatively undammed Flint River of Georgia, as well as lakes such as Blackshear and West Point. Shoal Bass are closely associated with rock shoals and are uncommon in other habitat due to its unique spawning requirements.