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Where's the dark vertical lines? I've seen pictures on some Georgia rivers of "shoal bass". "River Bassin", I think his name is "Drew Gregory" catches strange looking bass.
Those shoal bass are almost exclusively river run species and have very small distributions. Much more likely that is a smallie. The vertical bars are not always present, just like every largemouth you catch doesn't have the dark horizontal bar on it.
 

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Caught this today on lake wylie.. fish took a pumpkin seed finesse worm Carolina rigged
Was this fish released?

Where's the dark vertical lines? I've seen pictures on some Georgia rivers of "shoal bass". "River Bassin", I think his name is "Drew Gregory" catches strange looking bass.
Smallmouth come in a variation of appearances. Some have the vertical barring that you referred to and some are completely bronze from "head to toe"......
 

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Red X Angler
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The numerous bars on the cheek moving horizontally toward the gill plate tell me its a smallie. Whitewater's fine fish shows the same. Largemouth rarely have that feature (plus the jaw and mouth on the fish in question are way small). And it sure isn't a spotted bass. I've caught smallies that were almost black. Wide variety of coloration in bass species. Hard to believe it came out of Wylie, but no reason not to believe it.

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Above lincolnton but others have caught smalls and even trout around the old mill and hydro dams on the south fork as there are several. I used to catch large face and cats around the mill dams in Laboratory just south of Lincolnton and have caught many smalls in the Henry and Jacobs Fork. There is a put in off of Hwy 10 out side hickory ...really half way to Lincolnton.

I'd like to fish that area. North of town. btw thats a smallmouth bass. period.
 

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Glasses Smile Sky Cloud Goggles
Smile Fisherman Flounder Fish Cap


Smallmouth from Smith Mountain Lake a couple of weeks ago. They all had red around the outside of the iris, too; I don't know if that is typical. These were somewhat different in their coloring, caught from the same spot 3 days apart. The first one looks pretty much the same coloring as the original poster's fish.
 
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