Coleman Spotted Bass is a Record-Breaker - sort of...

Friday, July 22, 2011 - by Richard Simms
<i>Chris Coleman caught this "record" spotted bass on Chickamauga Lake in February.</i>
Chris Coleman caught this "record" spotted bass on Chickamauga Lake in February.

Chickamauga bass angler & fishing guide Chris Coleman caught a record fish... sort of.

Back in February (2011) Coleman captured a huge spotted bass (also called Kentucky bass) on Chickamauga Lake. The fish weighed in officially at 6 lbs. 1 oz. A spotted bass more than five pounds is virtually unheard of in these parts.

Unfortunately Coleman's fish did not eclipse the current Tennessee State Record Spot caught by Wesley Strader that weighed 6 lbs. 7 ozs. (see below) However Coleman's fish captured the attention of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Biologist Mike Jolley.

There is a conundrum among fisheries biologists in that there are actually two different sub-species of spotted bass which now exist in Tennessee.

One sub-species is known as the Northern Spotted Bass and is a true native to Tennessee waters.

There is another sub-species known as an Alabama (or Coosa) Spotted Bass. They are not however, true natives to Tennessee waters. Biologists believe they have been introduced by anglers who caught the fish in lakes to the South such as Lake Lanier, Allatoona or Carters Lake... then carried them to Tennessee and released them in areas where they have proliferated.

One of those areas is Parksville Lake (also known as Ocoee #1) in Polk County. The Ocoee area is where both of the last two record spots have been taken... and DNA analysis revealed that both were the Alabama strain, not the true native Northern Spotted Bass.

But Coleman caught his fish in the mid-lake area of Chickamauga... far, far away from the Ocoee River drainage. That's what caught Jolley's attention and he decided to send samples off for DNA analysis.

Jolley just got those results back and lo & behold, it turns out that Coleman's fish is indeed, a true native Northern Spotted Bass.

However in its record books TWRA follows the same guidelines outlined by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA). That organization does not recognize the two sub-species of spotted bass as separate records. Therefore, for record-keeping purposes, TWRA does not distinguish between the two sub-species.

That means while Coleman indeed caught the largest "Northern" Spotted Bass on record in Tennessee, it won't be formally recognized as a record.

"It is kind of weird," said Coleman. "But I do sort of understand why they do it that way. It is virtually impossible to tell the two apart by just looking at them."

Jolley agrees. He says there are a few potential clues that might distinguish the two sub-species to a trained eye... clues such as scale counts or dorsal ray counts. But he says even those are not foolproof and only expensive DNA analysis can confirm the distinction between the two sub-species.

So for now Coleman's name won't be in the record books... all he can do is bask in the glory of knowing he has caught the largest "Northern" Spotted Bass in Tennessee history.

<i>Wesley Strader holds the current state record for spotted bass with this 6 lb. 7 oz. fish taken from the Ocoee River.</i>
Wesley Strader holds the current state record for spotted bass with this 6 lb. 7 oz. fish taken from the Ocoee River.

Public Invitation Issued To Hear Results Of South Holston Smallmouth Bass Tagging Study

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency invites the public to attend a meeting to learn about the results of a recent smallmouth bass tagging study performed on South Holston Lake. According to Fisheries Biologist John Hammonds, the study was conducted in January and February 2017.  In order to mimic a real world scenario, volunteer anglers caught the fish out of water ... (click for more)

Nashville District Encourages Public To View Total Eclipse At Corps Of Engineers Lakes

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District is encouraging the public to view the total eclipse at Corps of Engineers lakes when the sun sweeps over Kentucky and Tennessee from approximately noon to 3 p.m. Central Time Aug. 21. Free viewing areas in the path of totality have been designated at Lake Barkley in Kentucky, and Cheatham Lake, Old Hickory Lake, J. Percy ... (click for more)

Person Shot And Killed In Hixson

A person was shot and killed in Hixson early Friday morning. At 3:25 a.m., Chattanooga Police responded to a person who had been shot at 4849 Hixson Pike. Officers were on regular patrol in the area and located the victim suffering from a gunshot wound. The victim was pronounced dead on the scene by Hamilton County EMS. Members of the Violent Crime Bureau are following ... (click for more)

County School Board Members, Rep. Favors Rap State Take-Over Plans For Low Performing Schools; New Superintendent To Come Up With Community Plan

County School Board members at a Thursday work session took turns rapping a state take-over plan for low performing schools. New Supt. Bryan Johnson said he will work over the next 30-45 days to come up with a community proposal for strengthening the iZone schools. He said, "I'm not sold myself" on some of the aspects of a proposed state partnership with the school district. ... (click for more)

Do Something To Protect Our Children

It is unconscionable in this day and age that these children had to exist in such deplorable conditions and that an innocent baby suffered and died alone in a locked car.  Yes, there is blame and accountability considering this family had child neglect charges filed a few years ago (that were apparently dropped and expunged) and a large part of the responsibility should ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: School Board Shoves Back

The Hamilton County School Board, told that ‘no’ was not an option three months ago when state Education Commissioner Candice McQueen arrived to take over five floundering public schools, may have to ask the Governor to call out the Tennessee Guard. A very vocal School Board shoved a bitter ultimatum right back into McQueen’s lap during a work session Thursday night and showed it ... (click for more)