Help with a Bass Research Project in the Hooch

Thread starter #1

AsRed

New Member
Hey everyone, new guy here. I am a high school student currently enrolled in an AP Research class. This class is intended for HS students like me to research (actually collecting data, not just analyzing literature) any topic for the school year. I have chosen to do a winter occupancy model for Chattahoochee Bass, M. chattahoochae, (a close relative to Redeye Bass and the Shoal Bass) in pool, run, riffle, and shoal river habitats of the Upper Chattahoochee River. The goal of this study is to identify which habitats the bass occupy the most, which could help biologists and local wildlife management help conserve the species. I plan on collecting the fish with hook-and-line. I have the methodology for the project outline, but I need help from you guys.

First off, I am having some trouble identifying possible sections of the Chattahoochee River that I can sample. does anyone know sections of the Chattahoochee River above Hwy 115 that has 1) a decent population of bass, 2) variable habitat, and 3) is publically accessible? I am thinking from around Helen (here) to Hwy 255 (here). If anyone has property that has access to the river, it would be very helpful if you could give me an entry point to the river.

Secondly, I need a sampling team. Whether you are a amatear or a professional, use conventional or fly-fishing gear, does not matter. Anyone can come help. Think of it as an opportunity to fish with likeminded people while also helping save a species for future fishermen to enjoy. After I get the actual fishing locations nailed down, I will provide dates. Additionally, I will provide the exact methodology if you want to read into it.

PM me here or email me at
if you are interested. Thanks for reading.

Edit: We will NOT be using seine nets.
 
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Sounds like a fantastic project. Why the focus north of 115? I don't know much about the Chattahoochee Bass - -but there is fantastic water south of 115 that is easily accessible by kayak or canoe -- or on foot. When are you doing your sampling?
 
Thread starter #3

AsRed

New Member
Sounds like a fantastic project. Why the focus north of 115? I don't know much about the Chattahoochee Bass - -but there is fantastic water south of 115 that is easily accessible by kayak or canoe -- or on foot. When are you doing your sampling?
At first, I wanted to sample around Buck Shoals WMA. However, my advisor from the GADNR has told me that there isn't a good population of Chattahoochee Bass below HWY 115. I am assuming the bass's will be similar to redeye and shoal bass. As for a date, I do not know yet, but it will definitely be around the next few weeks to March 1st.
 
Cool. I am always up for some fishing! I will keep an eye on this thread or you can PM me. If available when you get out, I would love to join. When I was in college , I was a finance major. Around my junior year, I discovered fisheries management and really wanted to switch my field of study. It was too late for me but I did get a chance to do some work like you are doing on the Southern Appalachian Brook Trout. Very neat stuff and your project sounds excellent.
 
I haven't fished from Helen to the 255 bridge yet but I have fished all the sections south of there pretty hard. The only ones I've caught have been on section 2, which is from the 255 bridge to the 115 bridge. There seem to be certain areas I always catch them in, and other sections are full of LM, spots and of course shoal bass.

As for winter fishing, I am not sure how many you will catch. Finesse worms would be my bait of choice. Maybe the seine will be of good use, but I'd make sure that's legal.

Lastly, BE CAREFUL and wear a PFD. That water is extremely cold already. The gauge at Helen is showing 46 degrees. On section 2, Smith Island is the only set of rapids you'll have to worry about.
 

almoore

Senior Member
Contact Unicoi Outfitters in Helen. Jake Darling there floats the upper Chattahoochee spring through fall. The owner, Jimmy Harris, posts on this forum periodically.
 
I'm a scientist who has mentored numerous successful student research projects in fisheries science: lots of first place finishes in science fairs, published papers, etc. The biggest challenge of these projects is adequate sample collection in a compressed time frame, especially if attempting to collect samples during the colder months.

This challenge is so dominant, that I recommend that most students limit their research goals and hypothesis to situations where they already have a bullet proof plan for adequate sample collection in the required time frame. For example, one family in SW Louisiana got really good at catching several inshore species of saltwater fish. The plan to use magnetic hooks and shams to test for magnetoreception was rock solid, and ended up with the discovery of magnetoreception in three new species of fish. I've talked with several students about similar projects testing for magnetoreception in different species in the Lanier/Hooch area, but the sticking point is usually the ability to catch at least 50 samples a given species in the available time.

Another approach projects I've mentored have used successfully is the creel survey where students wait at the boat ramp for anglers to return and then sample their fish - noting species, weight and length. With a good study design, the right time of year, and some insight on which boat ramps to wait at, sample sizes of 200-300 fish have often been achieved in a short time. But winter is not usually the right time of year.

But on the whole, your best bet for a successful field study in fisheries is most likely to have the design ready to go and collect your samples in the warmer months. Contact me privately for additional assistance or for alternate ideas that may be achievable over the winter on your compressed schedule. We can brainstorm ideas for fisheries projects analyzing data that already resides either in public repositories or is available privately from various sources. This may allow you to have an excellent project in your current academic year and extend sample collection for the Shoal Bass project to the warmer months when getting decent numbers will be much easier.

Another point of interest is that if you collect samples yourself, odds are against the project being approved for competitive venues such as GSEF and the GSHS. Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees don't like catching fish with hooks for these research projects. The creel survey is an effective work-around. If the fish are already dead and in an angler's ice chest when you measure them, your project can skip the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and it will be approved.
 
Definitely get with the Upper Chattahoochee Bass project. The biggest issue with Chattahoochee Bass is that they aren't super active during cold winter time water. Not saying you can't catch some but it's definitely optimal. You can also float from the bridge on Sautee Creek on 17 to 255. Good luck.
 
Thread starter #11
I haven't fished from Helen to the 255 bridge yet but I have fished all the sections south of there pretty hard. The only ones I've caught have been on section 2, which is from the 255 bridge to the 115 bridge. There seem to be certain areas I always catch them in, and other sections are full of LM, spots and of course shoal bass.

As for winter fishing, I am not sure how many you will catch. Finesse worms would be my bait of choice. Maybe the seine will be of good use, but I'd make sure that's legal.

Lastly, BE CAREFUL and wear a PFD. That water is extremely cold already. The gauge at Helen is showing 46 degrees. On section 2, Smith Island is the only set of rapids you'll have to worry about.
Alright, I'll keep that in mind. Thanks!
 
Thread starter #12
I have fished a section of the upper hooch that had a great population of Chattahoochee, Spotted and Shoal bass, easily could have spent all day fishing it and catching them. But that float is remote and I would highly suggest allowing yourself at least 8-10hrs
 
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