Through 2009, Florida Sportsman editors are mining our extensive archives for the articles and photos we feel best reflect the spirit of 12 developing fisheries. Each month, we’ll summarize important content from the magazine’s 40 years of publication. Why begin with largemouth bass? It’s Florida’s official state freshwater fish, for one thing. It’s also the species which announced our first press run in the Summer of ’69: Our inaugural cover featured a young man up to his knees in lily pads hoisting a lunker bass for the world to see. We’ve always kept that image in our hearts, even as we’ve explored and chronicled the rise of fast boats, fancy tackle, high-tech hatchery fish and big-money competition. In the end, nothing is more important than clean water and access to great fishing. Next month, join us for a retrospective of our coverage of Florida’s state saltwater fish, the mighty sailfish.
—Jeff Weakley, Editor
^ AUG-SEP 1970:
TIME FOR SCHOOL…BASS
Among his first features in FS. Today Frank Sargeant is Editor-at-Large
of the magazine.
^ OCT-NOV 1970:
FLORIDA’S 30 BEST BASS LAKES
1. Juniper Lake, Drawdown and restoration in 2006
2. Spring Lake, Now a private impoundment
3. Deer Point, Lake Remains an FWC top pick
4. Dead Lakes, Benefits from dam removal in 1980s
5. Ocheese Pond, Rebounding after recent droughts
6. Lake Talquin, Largemouth now protected by 18-inch minimum
7. Lake Jackson, Famed disappearing lake; 8 years post-refill, may be another Mecca
8. Lake Iamonia, Dam removed in 2007, allowing natural fluctuation; restoration planned
9. Lake Miccosukee, Heavily vegetated and shallow; prime fishing when water rises
10. Sante Fe, Plenty of bass ranging from 14 inches to trophy size
11. Lochloosa, Quality bass, but not overly abundant
12. Orange, Best catch rates of 14 waters currently surveyed by FWC
13. Crescent, One of best destinations for 2008
14. Lake George, Consistently a top choice; 2004 hurricanes damaged eelgrass
15. Lake Dias, 711-acre small lake with large-fish reputation
16. Lake Woodruff, Tropical Storm Fay dropped a lot of water here
17. Lake Dexter, Consistently produces bass and bream
18. Lake Griffin, FWC Fish Management Area, stocked and habitat-enhanced; pollution and over-abundance of fertilizer nutrients need to be addressed
19. Panasoffkee, Drought helped FWC remove excess sediment
20. Tsala Apopka, High rainfalls tend to cause fish kills, due to poor quality water entering from Green Swamp
21. Puzzle Lake, Natural fluctuations good for fisheries, but may be hindered by efforts to stabilize water levels to prevent flooding
22. Lake Poinsett, Periods of low dissolved oxygen and declining vegetation
23. Lake Tohopekaliga, Outstanding, on current list of top fisheries
24. Lake Hancock, Eutrophication due to phosphate and agriculture;
Water Management District planning wetlands to treat water
25. Lake Kissimmee, 1996 extreme drawdown and habitat enhancement
26. Blue Cypress, Low-density, high-quality bass population
27. Lake Istokpoga, Still a top bass fishery; 2001 habitat restoration
28. Lake Okeechobee, High water, and back pumping of nutrient-and chemical-rich water from agriculture, adversely impacted water quality. Some recent improvements as a result of drought
29. Lake Hicpochee, Dredged and now mostly dry.
30. Lake Trafford, Beneficiary of ongoing major restoration strongly supported by local environmental group
^ NOVEMBER 1975:
Larry Larsen travels the Santa Fe River with GFC biologist Gray Bass, at the time working on a technical paper on the rare Suwannee bass. Larsen returns with fishing buddies to do his own survey.
^ JULY 1975:
NEW LIFE FOR LUNKERS
Writer Jim Sulser documents the findings of a Central Florida largemouth bass tagging study with Doug Hannon. Conclusion is, largemouth bass are hardy fish with excellent post-release survival; even gut-hooked fish are recaptured in fine condition. The two also demonstrate early method for transporting live bass—84-quart cooler with an air stone pump and ice added to lower the temperature, plus an anti-fungal chemical to inhibit infection. This system was becoming standard in bass tournaments nationwide as early as 1973.
^ SEPTEMBER 1978:
SOUTH OF THE BORDER BASS
Larry Larsen finds a silty, weed-choked lake “full of bass
and tarpon.” As to the record bass, “a lack of small baitfish has apparently caused an unhealthy stunted condition for many of them. Irrespective, rumors remain of 25-pounders caught by locals.” Larsen continues exploring remote fisheries for FS today, including the now well-developed bass fisheries in Mexico. He traveled to Cuba once, for this article.
^ JANUARY 1989:
TOURNAMENT TURMOIL/SPAWNING CONTROVERSY
A relative new-comer to the FS fold, writer Chris Christian diligently, and fairly, reports on two growing controversies in Florida bass fishing. The first, legislative efforts to limit tournaments:
At the same time, the controversy over “bed fishing” boils over. Biologists at GFC maintain that environmen-tal factors are more important than angling pressure. Nonetheless, Putnam County petitions the GFC successfully to prohibit angling in certain waters of Lake George
during February and March. The result? “‘A study of the closed area,’ said [GFC administrator Sam] McKinney,
‘indicates that the spawning refuges had no bearing on the bass population.”’ Christian concludes:
Christian remains a frequent contributor to FS. His coverage of Rodman Reservoir is a major topic of interest to readers.
^ APRIL 2001:
BASS CAPITAL OF THE WORLD/ROJAS MAKES HISTORY
On the Bass Beat reported some amazing statistics over the years, perhaps none as incredible as 45 pounds, 2 ounces. Lake Tohopekaliga stuns the bass fishing world by gifting this one-day, 5-bass catch limit to Arizona angler Dean Rojas. The figure is a Bass Anglers Sportsmans Society (B.A.S.S.) record. Boosted by the catch, Rojas wins the Bassmaster Top 150 Tournament, at the same time setting another record with a four-day total of 108 pounds, 12 ounces. Columnist Herb Allen writes.