The Making of a Lifelist Angler

Perhaps one of the most fulfilling things in life besides “The Lifelist Hunt” is introducing my son to the same passion that exists in me, and watching that same passion get transferred.  My son Caleb and I took a Lifelist trip to the Southeast together.  This is not our first one but definitely the highlight of my year. 


This trip was a milk run of previously researched species’ targets, that took a winding road through four states, from Myrtle Beach to Pensacola.  This was going to be a freshwater only trip.  As many of you already know, the journey the unknown is half the fun.  This is a salute to all Lifelist Anglers out there and to pass along your passion.    


Our journey began in South Carolina where we knocked out some Bullheads under a sketchy looking bridge stop.  The Snails like the nighttime bite better I was told so we pressed into the nocturnal hours.

Flat Bullheads


Snail Bullhead


We then hit a couple of Redhorse spots in NC, but there are always those species that don’t cooperate and get left behind.  That’s ok because it just gives me another reason to return again.  I find the endemic micros to be a bonus along the way.

Back on the road towards Georgia to hit up some bass species.  The Chattahoochie drainage for bass and whatever else.  Maybe somebody can confirm with me if this is actually a Chattahoochie or not.  This was caught in Chattahoochie country south of Helen, but I’m just not 100% on this one.

Is the pic above a Chatahoochie???



Flint River Shoal Bass


Then on to one of my favorite places on earth: Okefenokee Swamp (My 2nd trip to Okee).  I later found out that this is the largest swamp in North America at 700 square miles.  This place holds all the swamp creatures you would want to see.  Here was our mix:

Lined Topminnow

As the locals like to call, "Mudfish."

Lots of nice Fliers here

As well as nice Warmouth

And the perhaps the highlight of the trip for me was the unexpected Lake Chubsucker.  I have grown to hate this fish due to its difficulty and uncooperative nature in angling.  Well, this beautiful specimen came completely by accident.  While fishing for Micro-Sunfish species in darkly stained swamp water, this big Chubsucker took a fleck of worm on my smallest of micro hooks.  I was overjoyed when I hauled this from the dank water.  I thought these things were impossible to catch in the mouth by hook and line.  Every lifelist trip has its surprise and this was mine.  I guess if you want one of these, just go fishing for micros and you might get surprised like I was.

We caught a bunch of Bluespots too.

Watch out for the Velvet Ants crawling through the grass.

Banded Sunfish

Then a pair of Redfins

And the one that was on my bucketlist my son got.  I didn't know that the Mud Sunfish would take a Mepps "00"

Then we moved on to Florida’s Santa Fe.  I could see Memorial weekend was going to be the time that we were slated to arrive.  We did our best to avoid the graduation party scene on the river and get to some new lifers.  Overall, it wasn’t too bad.  Hotels were tough to book but we managed.

A couple of nice Redbreast

We rented a couple kayaks to float the river.  Only one incident where the river pushed me too close to a wasp nest that had me swatting a few angry wasps.  I survived with only 3 stings.   

Only Suwanee of the trip

We had to work for the Golden Silverside but we each got one.


A little night fishing produced some nice White Catfish and Spotted Bullheads.

I still think that the Spotted Bullhead is the sexiest of Bullheads.

After a mastering the bullhead species, it was onward to the Chipola.

The Chipola was agreeable to me but not the Perdido. 

I just love the slate gray fins of that Appalachicola/Grayfin RH.  The only one we caught too.

This bass was caught out of the Perdido.  I'm not 100% on what it might be.  Is this a Choctaw or just a Largemouth???


Overall, what a great trip and watching my son with increased enthusiasm in angling was worth it all.  He was excited with his 30 new species.  We will have to get his lifelist up online now.  I ended up with only 13, but I have learned to slow down and just enjoy this journey.   










Species List:


Eli's picture

Awesome trip, Mike. Can't wait for my son to be old enough




andy's picture

Thanks for passing down to the next generation the excitement and adventure of a good fishing trip!

Dr Flathead's picture

Dang nice smackdown man!  I'd definitely agree with you that those spotted bullheads are the sexiest.  And your boys mystery bass is a Choctaw. Congrats to you guys on a bunch of sweet lifers!

dlk243's picture

So cool!

vanner's picture

Great story, it isn't always easy to get your kids to take up your hobbies. Good job.