How to catch bass in Florida
The entire state of Florida is known for having trophy-sized bass. Not only are the fish gigantic, but there is a large amount of cover and vegetation found on the majority of these fish. Lakes like Okeechobee and Harris Chain are known for producing giant musical instruments not usually seen in other parts of the country. A great example of this is Scott Martin’s record-breaking win in the Bassmaster Open on Lake Okeechobee last week.
Although the weights for this tournament were high, fishing in this part of the country can be somewhat difficult. Understanding how to locate and catch these fish is key to a successful day on the water. The style of fishing in Florida is very different from other parts of the country, but once mastered it can lead to some big limits for largemouth bass. This feature will serve as a guide How to catch bass in Florida.
The fish is slow
Slow fishing is arguably the most important factor to success in Florida. If you keep up with tournament fishing, almost every angler who finds success in this state preaches the importance of slow fishing. Lakes across Florida are home to an abundance of giant bass. Although these fish are fairly common in this area, they are often very intelligent and reluctant to bite. Slow fishing in high percentage areas is one of the most productive ways to ensure success in this part of the country.
At the recent Bassmaster Open on Lake Okeechobee, Scott Martin talked about the importance of fishing slow and taking your time. Scott found an area full of giant bass, but there was too much fishing pressure resulting in a slower bite. With his extensive knowledge of Florida, he knew the importance of slowing down and keeping the bait in front of the fish. Scott was able to catch up to 30 pounds a day by slowly fishing through a crowd of boats with a Texas-rigged Googan Baits Bandito Bug. While slow fishing is important, finding a productive area is crucial to success on the water.
Find an area
Finding an area with a large bass population is crucial in Florida. Lakes like Okeechobee are home to miles of dense vegetation and cover. While it may seem like fish live all over the lake, this is usually not the case. There are often miles of dead water, no matter how slow you fish you will never get a bite. However, once you find a productive area, there seems to be an unlimited number of fish. One of the easiest mistakes to make in Florida is covering too much water.
I have fallen victim to the trap of trying to draw a pattern on these bodies of water. Just because you’re biting in one area on a certain bait doesn’t mean they’re biting all over the lake. Instead, it means there are fish in that area and you should slow down and learn how to catch them. This is one of the most common mistakes made by Florida anglers, myself included. Although there are exceptions to this rule, idling in the productive zone is almost always more productive based on tournament results and personal experience.
Fishing pressure is good
One of the most intimidating factors that Florida anglers deal with is fishing pressure. At a recent Bassmaster Open tournament on Lake Okeechobee, there were more than 100 boats in a spawning area the size of a football field. Even though this area was very compact over the course of three days, it still pumped out giant bags for many anglers. There seems to be an unlimited amount of fish in this area, resulting in a top ten ranking for many competitors.
In many lakes across the country, fishing pressure is thought to be something you want to avoid. There have been many times when I wanted to fish an area but didn’t due to the sheer number of boats. However, Florida’s large pool of boats often means it’s a very productive area. Due to the size of these fisheries and the huge amounts of dead water, once a productive area is found, it can usually withstand fishing pressure. It often seems that all the fish in the lake congregate in a few specific areas. Joining the crowd and slowing down seems to be one of the most productive ways to catch big bass in Florida.
When to throw the worm
Bait selection is another important factor when trying to find success in Florida. Throwing a stickbait is one of the most productive and versatile lures in this area. This lure can be rigged in a number of ways to handle any scenario you may encounter. I like to throw this bait as soon as I identify a productive area. Fishing the area slowly with stick baits is a great way to find the sweet spot in the area.
Some of my favorite spots to target using this area are bait, holes in the grass and bed fish. Rigging this bait on a Texas rig, Carolina rig and a wacky rig are some of the most productive ways to fish this bait. I tend to choose a Carolina rig when dragging this lure to offshore structure. On the other hand, the Texas rig is great for flipping heavy cover like grass or reeds, while the exotic rig is great for bedding fish and other great fishing scenarios.
When to throw moving bait
Throwing a variety of moving baits is an equally productive way to find and catch giant bass in Florida. Lures such as lipless crankbaits, vibrating jigs, and swimworms are proven fishing tackle in this area. Some of my favorite times to use these baits are when I’m covering the water looking for a productive area. Covering a lot of water with moving bait is a great way to quickly locate a school of fish on these bodies of water. Targeting areas with diverse vegetation and plenty of cover is a great way to quickly find fish in Florida fisheries.
A lipless crankbait, vibrating jig and a swimworm are three of the most productive moving baits in Florida. These baits can be fished in a variety of locations and can handle any type of cover Florida has to offer. I choose a lipless crankbait when fishing marine plants such as hydrilla or coontail. Ripping this bait out of the grass is a great way to generate fierce reaction strikes. I choose a swim worm or vibrating jig when fishing shallow vegetation less than 4 feet deep. These lures don’t get stuck in the grass like lipless crankbaits, making them a great choice for shallow water and heavy vegetation. Moving baits are a great bait to hunt in Florida, and I always make sure to keep a variety of these baits in my boat at all times.
Bass fishing in Florida can be an absolute blast and I recommend it to anyone who wants to catch a large trophy sized fish. Although the style of fishing in Florida is very different from other parts of the country, it is still a very fun way to catch giant bass. Although Florida fishing can sometimes be difficult, it becomes fairly simple once you understand how to fish these bodies of water. This feature serves as an essential guide on how to catch bass in Florida.
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