Located in the eastern middle of the state, Lake Okeechobee is truly a huge body of water. Miles of shoreline, bays, airboat trails, grass edges, floating hyacinth islands and a host of other bass habitat await anglers. It seems that every foot of it is prime bass water. The lake also holds stable populations of black crappie, shellcrackers, bluegill, channel catfish, gar and a host of other freshwater fishes.
Now, every boat has sonar, and a lot of flats and bass rigs have sonar at both ends. In fact, for those who fish with a trolling motor, a sonar system up front has become pretty much standard equipment—and some of the bass guys even have a couple of big-screens mounted on the front deck.
Many of Florida’s rivers and lakes are fed by springs, and the water tends to be very clear year-round. But even on waterbodies fed primarily by surface runoff, late winter and spring can see exceptionally clear conditions, due to the cool water and limited growth of algae. This puts us anglers at a disadvantage.
During a recent fishing tournament, John Stewart, 54, of Alva caught, documented and released an 8-pound, 2-ounce Florida largemouth bass on Lake Trafford.
We (FWC biologists) are offering Florida bass fishermen a revised version of an age-old adage. “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it could be 13…pounds that is.” What we are referring to are largemouth bass, and in particular, one monster that had nearly grown to the 13 pound mark.
Rigging and fishing little plastics for dug-in fish. Knowing the bass are there is one thing; getting to them is another. Given the opportunity, the largest bass in any body of water will conceal themselves beneath a canopy of grass, hydrilla, hyacinth or other cover.
In this FS Seminar, Rick Ryals tells us what the most important things are to consider when selecting the right hook for the job. Ryals explains which hooks are best for live bait and dead baits, and the key differences and advantages of using j-hooks and circle hooks.
The next morning in Jeff’s truck, he explained what lay ahead of us. Years ago, he discovered a trail into a hidden lake, a long way back through a swamp. He’d even hauled an aluminum boat out there. I asked him how many buddies used his boat. He told me he’d never seen another soul out there. I knew right then that this was going to be very special.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) TrophyCatch program awarded the Season 2 Hall of Fame winner, Joseph “Brooks” Morrell from Hampton, with the TrophyCatch championship ring from the American Outdoors Fund. Morrell caught, documented and released a 14-pound, 9-ounce bass to earn the top prize for Season 2 (Oct. 1, 2013, to Sep. 30, 2014).
Not too long ago if you wanted to fish for largemouth bass in one of Florida’s reclaimed phosphate pits, you had to be a V.I.P., trespass, or visit Tenoroc. Some new waters have been made available recently, though (see sidebar). If you want to fish in a pit you now have more options than ever. It’s still not a bad thing to be a V.I.P., though.
Any way you slice it, golf course ponds can be prime sites for hooking largemouths. I learned to enjoy the best of both worlds long ago as a caddy at the Doral Open in Miami. After lugging around the bag for Julius Boros during a practice round, we small-talked a bit until the conversation swung to our mutual fondness for fishing.
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