Jimmy Tice wasn’t expecting a shoal bass when he cast his Bandit Flatmaxx to a rocky spot in the Apalachicola River. Tice does do a quite a bit of shoal bass fishing in the nearby Flint and Chipola rivers. However, in five decades of fishing the Apalachicola, he’d never seen or heard of a shoal bass having come from this river.

When he landed the bass, though, Tice told his cousin who was fishing with him that it sure looked like a shoal bass and that if it was one, it might break the Florida state record. He knew it wasn’t a largemouth because of configuration of the jaw, but thought it could have been an unusually marked spotted bass or maybe a spot/shoal bass hybrid. Because the scale they had in the boat suggested that it would easily break the existing state record of 4.85 pounds, they went ahead and put the fish in the livewell.

Through circumstances that included the fish spitting up several crawfish, dying because of an unknown livewell failure and a 13-hour difference between the time the fish was caught and when it was officially weighed and the species certified, the final reading was more than a pound less than when Tice originally weighed it. Nevertheless, the fished officially weighed 5.20 pounds, breaking the old record by more than 1/3 pound.

Tice noted that Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission workers were exceptionally helpful in the process. They instructed him by phone about the best way to keep the fish until it was weighed to minimize weight loss, and the certifying biologist, who was off that day, left a personal outing and drove three hours to meet him. He immediately identified it as a shoal bass.

“That’s a shoal bass, and it’s a monster,” he told Tice.

Interestingly, when Tice told the biologist the fish had come from the Apalachicola River, the biologist responded that he knew where it must have been caught and indeed described the exact area. Apparently, fisheries crews had found shoal bass in that area and nowhere else on the river while doing electroshocking surveys on the river.

Also of note, Tice’s cousin had made virtually the same cast about 10 minutes prior to him catching the record fish and had hooked and lost a big bass on a Smithwick Rattlin’ Rogue. Thinking back on the colors it flashed, they really think it too might have been a big shoal bass. Also, they caught a second shoal bass from the same area that day.

Tice chose a Bandit Flatmaxx for the area they were fishing because of its shallow running depth for working over the rocks and for its wiggle, along with its dependability. “I’ve never had a Bandit crankbait that didn’t run true,” he said.