Georgia anglers are fortunate to have so many different types of the black bass species in the state’s waters. Georgia is the only state in the nation with as many as six of the black bass species within state waters.

The six black bass species found in Georgia waters include largemouth, smallmouth, shoal, spotted, redeye and Suwannee bass. On local lakes Oconee and Sinclair the largemouth bass are the dominate black bass specie. Occasionally an angler might catch a redeye bass on Lake Oconee or in the upper reaches of Murder Creek or Little River on Lake Sinclair and spotted bass are now in both lakes in small numbers.

I recently read an article that indicated that an angler could achieve a Bass Slam by catching seven species of black bass. However, the Bass Slam that I am familiar with was patterned after the Turkey Grand Slam and it requires the angler to catch nine species of black bass rather than seven. This all gets a little confusing since fisheries biologist continue to add black bass species.

The Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (B.A.S.S.) created the BASS Slam and initially it required those entering the competition to catch each of eight different members of the black bass or Micropterus family of fish. The Bass Slam is similar to the Turkey Grand Slam that requires hunters to harvest all members of the wild turkey family within a specific period of time.

The initial eight black bass of the Micropterus family included the shoal, redeye, Florida largemouth, northern largemouth, Suwannee, spotted, smallmouth and the Guadalupe. The ninth and newest member of the Micropterus family that has been added to the BASS Slam is the Alabama spotted bass.

Georgia Public Broadcasting came up with the Georgia BASS Slam that only requires the angler to catch the six black bass that reside in Georgia waters. Whether you want to attempt the Georgia BASS Slam or the B.A.S.S. BASS Slam, anglers living in Georgia are fortunate to have so many different black bass in Georgia waters.

Further the challenge is somewhat easier in the southeast since at least eight of the nine members of the Micropterus family reside in the waters of Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. You can find all but the Guadalupe, Florida largemouth and the Alabama spotted bass in Georgia.

The only black bass that would require any travel for Georgians outside the southeast is the Guadalupe bass that can only found in Texas. Having fished for black bass in Alabama, Georgia and Florida over the last fifty years, I believe I have caught all the black bass except for the Guadalupe and possibly the Alabama spot.

Additional questions are being raised about other possible distinct or different members of the Micropterus family that are not included in the nine already named. Fish biologists have to deal with issues like illegal stockings and hybridization in determining true strains of the Micropterus family of black bass.

Many of the now accepted members of the black bass family have been found outside their normal range and many have interbred with other members of the black bass family creating an intergrade of strains. In an attempt to deal with those problems, the B.A.S.S. BASS Slam requires anglers entering their contest to catch the nine different black bass in their native range.

The redeye is becoming one of the most difficult species for contest entrants to catch due to the minimum length requirement of eight inches to qualify. I have caught several redeye bass in the local area but I do not remember any of those redeyes being eight inches in length.

The B.A.S.S. BASS Slam does not require you to catch the nine family members within any specified period of time but contest rules does require you to document your catches with photos and other information. Specific rules for the B.A.S.S. BASS Slam can be found at www.bassmaster.com/slam.

Even if you do not want to enter an official contest, you might engage on a personal quest, fish the waters of Georgia or even the local area, and see how many of the black bass family members you can catch. For more information on each of the six species of black bass in Georgia, click on Fishing and then click Fish Identification at www.gofishgeorgia.com. Good fishing and see you next week.

Bobby Peoples can be reached by e-mail at brpeoples@windstream.net.

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