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.
When bass are tight to cover or buried beneath it, getting a lure in front of them can be difficult. Plugs with treble hooks are suited for nibbling around edges of cover. If fish are active such an approach may work well. However, when bass hunker in places inaccessible to most lures, as they often do, a weedless offering is a must.
Why bother with largemouth bass in the land of giant tarpon, exotic snook and big sharks? If you’re one of the droves of anglers visiting or relocating to Southwest Florida, it’s a question worth asking. That’s assuming, of course, that you’re even aware of the excellent bass fishing in the region. Sure, you’ve heard of Lake Okeechobee. But in between the big lake and the saltwater flats, there are countless small lakes, canal systems and even some substantial rivers which hold good populations of bass, not to mention other freshwater species.
You can do a lot more with this lure than just cast and reel it. There are a lot of ways to use a spinnerbait, and a number of different retrieves that can make it more effective. Here are three retrieve methods that can increase your catch.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) randomly selected Ed Prather as the winner of a $40,000 Phoenix Bass Boat. A young lady from the audience at Bartow Ford’s Winter Wonderland event pulled his name from a bucket containing the names of five TrophyCatch finalists.
Spider rigging employs the use of multiple rod holders mounted to the bow of the boat, enabling up to eight lines (per tournament regulation) to be presented simultaneously. Anglers may fish these rigs while drifting, or by “pushing” with a trolling motor, in order to increase or decrease speed dependent on conditions. The object is to present lures vertically at various depths above suspended fish.
Before Kyle Busch raced his way to the 2015 Sprint Cup Championship fin-ish at the Homestead-Miami Speedway last week, NASCAR Drivers were racing up and down the infield lake for a different championship at the annual Hot Rods and Reels Tournament on November 21st.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) just concluded Season 3 of the TrophyCatch citizen-science, conservation rewards program for anglers who catch, document and release largemouth bass greater than 8 pounds. One angler caught the biggest bass in three seasons and, for the first time, a woman joins the ranks of Hall of Fame winners in a big way.
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.
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.
A basic knowledge of bass habits, combined with keen observation, can make for a very productive day. A spot gives an angler a general area to fish. A pattern tells the angler the specific depth and cover situations within that area where his casts need to go—and those areas that can be ignored.
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.
Bent-wire spinnerbaits have been around since the 1950s, and today are available in countless sizes, colors and patterns. And, with the online availability (www.mudhole.com and other sites) of components like skirts, trailers and blades, you have the ability to come up with baits bass have never seen: flashy blades of all sizes, shapes and color. Unlimited skirt colors and patterns. Trailers. Unusual heads and eyes.
Besides their willingness to bite when other fish won’t, catfish are crowd favorites at fish fries. The farm-raised channel cats, in fact, are among the few seafood offerings I find consistently satisfying at restaurants. Shrimp, salmon, lobster, and saltwater catches of the day such as mahi and grouper seem to arrive at my table in varying and unpredictable degrees of freshness and doneness—usually over-doneness.
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