Of all the continents, North America offers not only the greatest variety of freshwater fishing but also, and by far, the most opportunities to take advantage of them. Stretching from the frozen Arctic to the sweltering subtropics and rising from flatlands to snow topped mountains, North America's geographical diversity assures the presence of a rich varied aquatic fauna, all of which are important to recreational anglers, most of them because they are either challenging to catch or simply fun to catch.
Not so long ago, it seems most fishermen had to limit their angling efforts to their own general neighborhoods, rarely traveling farther from home to wet a line than an easy days round trip by car. Today, however, many modern sportsmen and their sports minded families are routinely crossing those limits and often traveling great distances to try new and different ways to approach an old passion not only do anglers now enjoy better and faster means of getting to distant fishing waters than did their grandfathers but also- wonders of wonders- they actually have many more fine fishing destinations to get to.
Many of the freshwater fish that are routinely taken in North America are familiar to anglers in all parts of the United States and over much of Canada. On the other hand, many species are confined to a somewhat limited habitat by temperature, water conditions, or other biological and environmental factors. This means, of course, that anglers who are reasonably familiar with the common sport fish in their usual fishing grounds are pretty sure to encounter an array of new species wherever they travel to another area of the continent- particularly the deep south and in the far north.
When fishing in Florida, you can expect to find a wide variety of freshwater sportfishing opportunities. Largemouth bass are probably the most notable with many remarkable catches made in Florida lakes and an official state record clocking in at a whopping 17.27 pounds taken in Polk County. Anglers can also find alligator gar, bowfin, black crappie, catfish, sunfish, bluegill and a handful of native bass species round out Florida’s freshwater gamefish category.
Occasionally, stocks are supplemented with hatchery raised fish, and, in many cases, to introduce new game species. One such fish is the grass carp. Not a particularly heart-pumping fight, but worth a spot on the list, these fish were introduced by FWC to control plant growth in approved ponds. If you decide to go for one, remember they are protected. Another stocked species resides in South Florida and is stealing some of the thunder from native largemouths, the popular butterfly peacock bass.
Although some species are being introduced intentionally, numerous non-native—and therefore truly “exotic”—fish have been finding their way into canals, ponds and coastal waters, often the result of hasty aquarium liberations. Unlike our friends to the north, our tropical climate allows a lot of these exotics to thrive in our consistently warm waters. Consequently, South Florida has become home to many non-natives not limited to colorful cichlids, vegetarian pacu and the unmistakable, acrobatic clown knifefish. Freshwater fisherman anywhere in the sunshine state may also encounter other more temperature tolerant exotics like blue tilapia, non-native catfish, and the notorious bullseye snakehead. Don’t get that last one confused with the native bowfin.
More than just a guide to identification, this resource provides essential basic information concerning where and how to go after these fish, and how each species ranges in fighting ability and table quality.
For all things Freshwater, go here: https://www.floridasportsman.com/listing/learn-how-to-freshwater/394681