BASS FISHING


WINTER TIPS IN FLORIDA - BRING YOUR RODS

The Ultimate Guide to Largemouth Bass Fishing in Florida




By Terry Tomalin   Florida’s largemouth bass put the Sunshine State on the international sport fishing map.

Looking out over the flooded farmland in Fellsmere in southeast Florida that anglers call Stick Marsh, I wondered how we would ever find our way through the hundreds of submerged tree stumps.  "You have to proceed slowly," my guide, Lenny Crispino, explains. "But trust me, it will be worth it."

Lenny Crispino lives near Tampa, but doesn't mind getting up in the dark and driving across the state to fish this 16,500-acre man-made impoundment. Though the nearest big city is Vero Beach, most Florida fishing guides are familiar with its waters. "When it comes to big bass, this is as good as it gets," says Crispino. "It is not uncommon to catch 50 fish in a day here. And there are plenty over 10 pounds.”

Florida has more than 7,700 named lakes greater than 10 acres, but only a select few make the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Top Ten Bass Lakes list. Stick Marsh previously earned that honor year after year, but other lakes are finding their place on the big, pass map.

Florida has an estimated 2 million resident anglers, and another million visitors fish state waters every year. With more than 700 world records to its credit - more than any other state or country - Florida can honestly claim the title of “ Fishing Capital of the World."

But while saltwater fishing has played an important role in the state's economy, it is Florida's largemouth bass and its varieties like the butterfly peacock bass that put the Sunshine State on the international sportfishing map.

Anglers know the odds of catching trophy fish - 10 pounds or larger - are as good as it gets in Florida. The term "trophy," however, is a misnomer when it comes to Florida bass, because the vast majority of anglers would rather take a picture than take a fish. Crispino, who makes his living on the water, is no exception. Many lakes are strictly catch and release, which is another reason why the fishing is so good.

Top Spots for Black Bass: Lake George, West Lake Tohopekaliga (Lake Toho), Lake Kissimmee, Rodman Reservoir, Lake Tarpon, Evers Reservoir, Lake Istokpoga, Winter Haven South Chain of Lakes, Lake Talquin, Suwannee River, Lake Okeechobee, Everglades Water Conservation Areas 2 and 3, Lake Monroe, Tenoroc Fish Management Area Lakes and Mosaic Fish Management Area.

LARGEMOUTH BASS

Depending on whom you ask, Florida largemouth bass could be a distinct species, different from its northern cousin, or merely a subspecies. But the debate is academic. No one disputes the fact that the Florida "bucketmouth" grow bigger and fatter than any other species of bass.

"You can credit that to our year-round growing season," says Wes Porak, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "We have warm water and plenty of vegetation. Put those together and you have big bass."

Black bass, Micropterus salmoides floridanus, were once found only on the Florida peninsula but have since been introduced in Texas and California.

A fish 10 pounds or larger is considered a "trophy." Females live longer than males and are more likely to reach "trophy" size. Most conservation-minded anglers release large fish because of their future spawning potential.

The largest (certified) largemouth bass in Florida was caught in 1986 in Polk County (in Central Florida) and weighed 17 pounds, 4 ounces.

TIPS AND TACKLE

The Florida largemouth bass has a reputation as a "tackle buster." Florida’s fabled “ Bucketmouth” will attack just about anything- minnows, frogs, even baby ducks.    Bait Casting and Spinning tackle are more suited for this kind of chaos, screaming and yelling common with Bass Fishermen. 

If you are planning a trip, spring is the best time to hunt a trophy bass. The season starts earlier in South Florida. February through April are peak months in Central Florida. As summer approaches, the fishing improves in North Florida.

While professional bass anglers use artificial lures on the tournament trail, the bait of choice for most anglers is either the golden shiner or the wild shiner, a thick-bodied baitfish found in most Florida lakes. When it comes to artificial lures, the plastic worm is probably the most widely used bait. 

The color is a matter of choice, but a general rule is the darker the better. Crank baits and spinner baits are other popular choices, but when it comes to heart-pounding action, nothing beats the sight of a big bass banging a topwater plug.

Fly-fishing for these Bass is slightly different and we will go into it, but they are more take-able with bait and spinning rigs.  t is all technique….  


🐟  More Salt, Less Bass Essentials  Well that means if you are over the top kind of bass tournament person, now you are adding a boat.  An expensive boat…Also you have determined to sponsor one type of fish species, to me, just too limiting.  I like surprise fishing… you never know what can occur…

  • Financially a Boat, Motor, Electronics, Trailer 4WD pickup, sometimes a Guide for Bass Fishing moving into your home, And a big 4WD pickup, Ford or Ram, Four wheeler, for wet ramps when everyone else had the same idea, Black Paint of course, and jacked up with a lift kit for an additional forty thousand dollars 
  • Adding a 28,000 dollar BASS boat Rig with 250 horses screaming across the two miles of water.  If the NAVY added torpedo tubes to some of these Bass boats, we could sink the entire Iranian Fleet
  • Besides to look good you will need an outfit befitting a Nascar racer with all kinds of emblems, decals, insignia and pins plus manufacturers baseball caps covering your ears to claim one decent fish. You gotta look good for the press when you land that ten pounder, and the other guys… did not and thats bragging rights…  plus the usual question “ What kind of a lure did you use?” Like Bass aggregate after you leave and compare notes…
  • And after 26--40 thousand dollar extras price tag … plus trailer, gasoline and maintenance, parking,  etc.   At my age, thats out… I liked my airplane… wife liked it too… under two hours we were in Key West. 
  • And I have been there too… I would think different if I were younger.   Florida is Florida and 98 degrees with enough humidity during the summer to cook your brain, I don’t need.  It gets hot on those lakes.  o I go early spring or calm winter fishing deep.   Think of yourself as the Shrimp frying in the pan on the stove.  The ocean usually has onshore or offshore breeze and you can drift fish.  Dawn till ten was enough for me

March 4, 2021

Suggested Tweet: The @MyFWC celebrates 12 years of out-of-season largemouth #bass spawning at Richloam Hatchery: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLFFWCC/bulletins/2c51cf9 #Florida #Fishing 

FWC celebrates 12 years of out-of-season largemouth bass spawning

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management has successfully spawned Florida largemouth bass out of season for the twelfth year in a row at Richloam Fish Hatchery in Webster. This practice allows biologists to produce twice as many largemouth bass per year than other state’s hatchery systems whose hatcheries produce spawn only once a year. The benefit to the FWC is the efficiency of producing more fish without the added expense of collecting additional broodstock.

Freshwater fisheries biologists collected a total of 41 individual spawns during October 2020 that yielded over 250,000 fry, which were stocked in hatchery ponds to grow. Spawning Florida largemouth bass out of season provides other advantages for fisheries managers because south Florida warms up sooner than central and north Florida. Because south Florida is warmer earlier in the year, spawning fish out of season at Richloam Hatchery provides game fish to this region at a time when the fry’s natural forage is available, thus increasing the chances the fish stocked from the hatchery will survive. The 2020 out-of-season year class will be stocked in Lake Trafford in the spring and in Orlando community fishing ponds in the summer of this year.

For more information about the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management, contact Laura Rambo Walthall at 850-488-0520 or Laura.Walthall@MyFWC.com.