Freshwater Fishing


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Fishing the Forgotten Chain: Osceola County Lakes

There’s room to explore on these largely unfished Osceola County lakes. It’s The Rodney Dangerfield Chain O’ Lakes. Right alongside the magnificently named and fun to say Tohopekaliga, it dares names like Coon, Lizzie, Center, Trout for God’s sake, and Alligator, like that’s a species you don’t often find in lakes.

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Florida Chain Pickerel Fishing

Way I see it, there’s not any kind of fishing much more exciting than pulling a buzzbait or weedless in-line spinner across a field of lily pads and having a big pickerel come blasting up to engulf the bait.

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Swamp Bass

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.

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Phosphate Lake Bass Fishing

Phosphate pits are unique in Florida for their underwater terrain. Unlike our natural lakes, which are mostly shallow bowls, the dug pits contain humps, deep holes and even hilltops projecting above the submerged landscape.

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Crankbaits in Grass

Jerk those lipless crankbaits through heavy cover. It works! Loud, flashy and long-casting, lipless crankbaits are the lure of choice when searching for bass in submerged hydrilla.

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Bass Fishing at Stick Marsh

If you can’t catch a 6-pound bass on this lake near Vero Beach, something’s wrong. What happens when you rear back into the biggest bass of your life, it dives into a hydrilla mat, and your premium grade hook snaps in half?

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Full Moon on Fisheating Creek

Paddle back in time on a storied tributary of Lake Okeechobee.

Marble-size balls are perfect for bullhead and channel catfish. Next step is a one-minute boil to firm up the baits.

Make Your Own Dough Balls

Doughballs are time-honored baits for sunfish, catfish and even some saltwater panfish.

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Bow Mount Sonar

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.

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Bass in the ‘Burbs

A streetwise fishing quest amid the sprawling city scape of Orlando. As a 12-year-old in ’62 Orlando, I mostly fished four nearby lakes. Equipped with the normal fascination with any tap transmitted from an artificial worm.

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Take Your Shiner For a Stroll

It’s not the most glamorous bass tactic, and you’re not likely to see it on the cable TV fishing shows. But there’s a reason why slow-trolling live shiners is the bread and butter technique for bass guides from Lake Okeechobee to Talquin–it works.

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Phosphate Pit Bass Fishing

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.

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Go Small For Big Results

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.

Some courses authorize, or even encourage, fishing.

Golf Course Bass Fishing

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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Un-Reel, Cane Pole Fishing

Besides that, sometimes it’s just fun to shed the gadgets and drift back to basics. Relax. Kick your shoes off. Set a spell and harken back to a simpler time.

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Reaction Strikes

Yet, if you dangle a ball of yarn in front of that cat it will take a swipe at it. Toss a ball and the dog will chase it. Bass are hard-wired with the same predatory responses. Given the right stimulus they will strike a lure, even if they are not feeding. Call this a reaction strike. The right lure presentation will trigger it.