Best Bass Fishing In Florida
With its miles of coastline, thousands of miles of rivers and thousands of lakes, Florida is known as the ‘fishing capital of the world’. As well as being a great place for saltwater fishing, the Sunshine State is also known for its big bass. So where are the best spots and when should you go?
To point you in the direction of some of the best places to go bass fishing in Florida we’ve put together a short guide that will hopefully tell you everything you need to know before you go.
Why Fish For Bass In Florida?
Year Round Fishin'
Florida’s subtropical climate means that the opportunities for fishing are just about non-stop. You can fish all year round in Florida with much of the Sunshine State often seeing little change in the weather between the seasons, except for an increase in temperature, humidity and rain during the summer months.
A lot of Florida has mild to warm winters, with Central Florida and South Florida averaging temperatures in the low to mid 70s (Fahrenheit) from December through February.
Land Of Lakes
Florida is filled with water, including more than 30,000 lakes, a lot of which were created during the drainage of the state to create land for commercial and agricultural purposes, as much of the state was swampland.
With there being around 7,800 natural lakes, there are countless fishing opportunities across the state. And no matter where in Florida you are, you’re probably not too far from a great bass fishing spot.
The Florida largemouth bass is a larger species than the northern largemouth bass. Some fisheries in many states around the country have introduced Florida bass to specific bodies of water in order to boost bass sizes by introducing the larger Florida strain to the gene pool.
However, with these fish being native to Florida, you could have a higher chance of catching one since they can be found in waters all across the Florida peninsula, with northern largemouth and hybrid species being prohibited from being stocked in Florida waters.
When Is The Best Time Of Year To Go?
Like many other states and locations, spring can be one of the best times for bass fishing as this is often when the pre-spawn happens, which means bass are heading closer to the shallows and should be actively feeding.
But in Florida, particularly South Florida, spring can often come early, with the pre-spawn often beginning as early as January. However, because of the differences in the lakes and the geographic location of Florida, the pre-spawning season can stretch right through to the beginning of summer, if you’re in the northern areas of the state.
February, March and April tend to be some of the best months for bass fishing in Florida.
Just about everybody knows that Florida’s summers are hot, which can make being outside pretty uncomfortable. However, if you can brave the conditions, summer can actually be a pretty good time to catch bass in Florida.
While many bass will be hiding out in the deeper areas of lakes during this hot season, which can often stretch on for six months, a lot of Florida’s lakes are pretty shallow, which could make finding them a little easier.
Temperatures will usually start to cool down during the fall, which can mean bass start actively feeding again in preparation for winter. This may not happen quite the same in Florida as it does in other parts of the country, and you may still find bass in deeper water at this time of the year.
However, for the most part, you can usually find bass in the shallower areas of lakes and rivers.
For most of Florida, it rarely gets cold. However, there can be cold fronts that push down cold air from the north. Because of the varying temperatures, it can be difficult to know where to look for bass, as they could be in deeper water during cold fronts or feeding in shallow zones as they prepare for the spawn.
You may also find that bass are moving towards their spawning areas during the winter, and, depending on how far south you are, you may find that the spawn actually begins in winter, with the pre-spawn having happened in the fall.
What About Licenses, Permits And Regulations?
Do You Need A Florida Fishing License For Bass Fishing?
Yes, everyone over the age of 16 will need a Florida fishing license in order to fish for bass, whether you’re carrying the gear, casting a line or catching and releasing a fish.
Children under 16 and Florida residents over the age of 65 do not require a fishing license.
Florida statewide regulations allow you to take no more than five black bass, which includes largemouth, spotted and Suwannee bass. Of your five bass, only one can be longer than 16 inches. While there is no minimum length for largemouth bass, other black bass species need to be longer than 12 inches in order to be kept.
For striped bass, white bass and sunshine bass, the bag limit is 20, with no more than six being longer than 24 inches. However, if you’re fishing in the Suwannee River areas, the bag limit for striped bass is only three but with a minimum size of 18 inches in length.
Currently, due to a temporary suspension, you are not allowed to catch and keep shoal bass from the Chipola River, including its tributaries, but you can catch them if they are immediately released.
The Best Lakes For Bass
1: Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in Florida and one of the largest in the United States, covering around 730 square miles with an average depth of around 10 to 12 feet.
This famous lake, which is known for its excellent year round bass fishing, sits around 100 miles south of Orlando and around 100 miles north of Miami. It also features a canal that links the lake to both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
There are plenty of boat ramps and access points all around the lake, with bass fishing charters and boat rentals in several locations, including in both Okeechobee City at the northern end of the lake and Clewiston at the southern end.
2: Lake Kissimmee
Located in Central Florida, Lake Kissimmee covers almost 35,000 acres and is known for its great bass fishing. It is also home to various bass fishing tournaments throughout the year.
It’s around an hour’s drive south of Kissimmee and the theme parks and there is boating access at Lake Kissimmee State Park (you can download a park map here) on the western edge of the lake. There’s also a public boat ramp at Joe Overstreet’s Landing on the eastern side.
Video: Bass Tournament Lake Kissimmee Florida
3: Lake Toho (Tohopekaliga)
Part of the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, Lake Tohopekaliga, known locally as Lake Toho, has plenty of access for fishing and boating, with one being in downtown Kissimmee, where there’s a public boat ramp and fishing pier.
Lake Toho is known for its trophy bass and covers 23,000 acres, giving you plenty of space to fish. You can rent a boat or fishing guide at Big Toho Marina to let you get closer to the big bass. And with all the nature and wildlife around, you could almost forget you’re just a few minutes from the theme parks.
4: Lake George
About 65 miles north of Orlando and about 30 minutes east of Ocala, Lake George is on the eastern edge of the Ocala National Forest. The lake is around 46,000 acres and is Florida’s second largest freshwater lake.
Lake George is part of the St. Johns River System and is only an average of 8 feet deep. It can be a good place for bass fishing because there is plenty of vegetation and cover, including submerged structures used as bombing targets by the US Navy in World War II.
What About The Everglades?
The Everglades National Park covers 1.5 million acres of wilderness in Southern Florida and is probably best known for its swamps and alligators. But it can also be a great place for bass fishing too, with a third of the park being water with plenty of waterways to explore.
The Everglades Water Conservation Area 3, just off of Alligator Alley and not far from Fort Lauderdale, can be a good place to fish. You will need a freshwater fishing license for these waters but if you’re in saltwater areas closer to the Gulf Coast, you will also require a saltwater license.
It’s also worth noting that using live or dead bait is forbidden within the park. There are also areas where fishing is prohibited. These include the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center, Chekika Lake, Royal Palm Visitor Center area, Shark Valley Tram Road and the first 3 miles of Main Park Road.
The water in the Everglades is only around 4 to 5 feet deep on average, which can mean kayaks, canoes and airboats can often be good options for getting around. Largemouth and peacock bass can be found in the Everglades but watch out for alligators and American crocodiles!
Florida can offer some great bass fishing and the warm climate means you can potentially fish all year round, with little in the way of seasonal changes.
There are thousands of lakes in Florida where you can cast your line for bass, with many of them within easy reach of cities and metro areas.
Remember to get your fishing license before you head out and make sure you know the local regulations for the specific body of water where you plan to fish.
So have fun and let us know how your Florida bass fishing trip goes. And don’t forget to share this guide with your bass fishing buddies.
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