Bass Fishing in Florida

by : Daniel Eggertsen

I consider Florida to be the Mecca of Largemouth Bass fishing in the United States. There are many places to fish in Florida. In this article I will describe one place that is well known and one little known place that offers great fishing opportunities as well. I want to stress that there are many different lakes to fish in Florida. When I talk about Lake Okeechobee for instance understand that there are hundreds of lakes that fit the same description throughout South Florida.

Lake Okeechobee is perhaps the most famous Largemouth Bass lake in the United States; It has earned that reputation by continuously producing large numbers of very large bass. It is a very large lake, over 50,000 square miles! It is also a very shallow Lake. A large portion of this lake is less than 6 feet deep. These in fact are the areas that often hold the largest bass. I would venture to guess than over half of the ten pound or larger bass I have caught have come from water that was 306 foot deep.
Fishing Lake Okeechobee can be a challenge but very rewarding. You will of course want to find the shallow weedy areas of the lake. If your only concern is boating a huge Largemouth Bass then you might want to consider fishing with livebait. The specific livebait of choice in this lake is the wild Florida Shiner. They are available at most marinas/bait shops in the area. If you are going to target huge Largemouth Bass you will need to use large bait. An eight to ten inch long shiner allowed to swim freely under a float, or free lined, is an awesome presentation. Understand that with large bait you need to use a very large hook. Make sure your hook is well sharpened as it must penetrate the tough mouth of a very large fish. You need to use a stout heavy action rod that has enough backbone to set that hook deep inside the mouth of your quarry.

If you prefer the more sporting method of using artificial baits then you need to gear your arsenal to fishing in heavy weeds. Spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and other topwater offering are much more important to have in your box than crankbaits and spoons. You need to be able to retrieve your lure through the heavy cover where the bass lie. Again make sure your hooks are sharp. Vary your retrieve until you find the proper presentations. You will find some days where a fast retrieve is required to catch very active fish. On other days you need a much slower presentation.

The key thing you need to do is be able to read the water. In a large lake like Okeechobee much of the water does not hold many fish. You need to first take notice of your surrounding and look for areas likely to hold fish. You can often do this by simply looking at the surface of the water for action. If you see schools of shiners and other smaller fish constantly breaking the surface of the water you can be sure Largemouth Bass are around as well.

Look for ambush points and other areas likely to hold fish. As with any kind of fishing you need to think like a bass. Look for areas that make sense for the bass to inhabit. The key is not to spend too much time in any one area that is not producing.

Once you find areas you should use lures like spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and other topwater baits. Sound is very important in these conditions, I prefer the spinnerbaits with round blades that emit vibration and attract the Largemouth Bass through sound as well as sight. A jig and pig combo is also very effective in this lake. You can bounce this artificial along the bottom of the lake with great success.

I would recommend using a guide the first time you visit this lake. Pay attention to where he takes you to fish and ask questions. You do not solely hire a guide to help you catch fish. You should strive to learn and become a better fisherman by learning and understanding the principles the guide uses in making your trip productive.

Southern Florida has many lakes that are smaller versions of Lake Okeechobee. They all can be fished in a similar manner.

For a different place to fish for Largemouth Bass I am going to throw out the canal/lake system of Cape Coral, Florida. Cape Coral, Florida is known for its extensive system of both fresh and saltwater canals and lakes. You can literally jump right out of your car and hook into a several hundred pound Bull Shark on one canal and less than a mile away hook into a huge Largemouth Bass in a freshwater canal.