Spring is the best time of year to catch bass, when fish move into shallow water to spawn. Spawning may occur as early as January in extreme south Florida and as late as May in the panhandle, but March and April are peak months.
A medium to medium-heavy rod with 14- to 20-pound test line is preferred, particularly when fishing in areas with thick vegetation or cover. Purple “metal flake” or “red shad” worms with twirly-tails are popular, and plastic lizards can be effective as well.
With active bass and dense underwater vegetation, “jerk worms” are an excellent bait. The design of the plastic lip determines how deep the lure dives, and anglers can adjust their choice of baits based on water depth.
Popular colors are white, shad, fire tiger (green striped with orange underside) and crayfish. Others are designed to make noise, and a faster, erratic retrieve may antagonize a bass into striking.
Favoring rock outcrops and moving water, Suwanee bass prefer crayfish to many prey items of large mouth. Bluegill, the most common pan fish, thrives in lakes and ponds, but good populations are found in rivers, particularly below dams.
Bluegill eat mostly insects and their larvae, but worms are the best bait, either fished on the bottom or suspended below a float. Crickets, grubs, sand maggots or grass shrimp will all catch bedding bluegill.
Use a small hook, #6 or #8, with a split shot sinker about six inches up the line, and concentrate on water less than six feet deep. “Beetle spin” with a white or chartreuse body on ultralight tackle is an excellent choice.
Although they prefer snails and clams, repair sunfish are caught most often on earthworms around the full moons of March and April when their spawning activity peaks. Redbreast sunfish, also known as river bream and red bellies, are the flowing water cousins of bluegill.
Although spotted sunfish rarely exceed eight inches, this feisty species provides great sport on light tackle. Beetle spins pitched close to the shoreline can be deadly, particularly tipped with freshwater clam meat.
Black crappie, known locally as speckled perch or specks, are a cool weather favorite in Florida. Unlike most other pan fish, crappie spend much of their time offshore, feeding on small fish.
Successful anglers often drift through deeper water, fishing with small minnows or freshwater grass shrimp until they find a school. Specks move inshore to spawn during the early spring, sometimes gathering in large numbers around heavy cover.
Striped bass need long stretches of flowing water to reproduce successfully, and these conditions are rarely found in Florida. Because of this, striped bass populations are maintained only through annual stockings from Commission and federal hatcheries.
Live menhaden, golden shiners, craters or eels are good choices as bait. In the same family as stripes, white bass seldom exceed four pounds, with one- to two-pound fish more common.
Small crayfish or grass shrimp on #4 hooks fished in deep river bends or at the edge of sandbars are effective baits. Live bait, including shad, grass shrimp and crayfish are especially effective, but jigs, spoons and imitation-minnow plugs also produce.
In urban lakes, shrimp, squid and even cut-up pieces of hot dogs will attract sunshine bass. Sunshine bass readily concentrate around mechanical feeders that periodically dispense food pellets.
Channel catfish are abundant throughout Florida, spawning in holes and crevices in flowing water. Most catfish prefer many of the same food items as bream, although they are opportunistic and will rarely pass up any meal.
The “whiskers” are loaded with sensory cells that enable catfish to locate their food by smell. Take advantage of this by using baits with strong odors: chicken liver or gizzards, shrimp, cut mullet and commercial stink baits.
Catfish spines may cause a painful injury, and anglers should take care when handling these fish. The Commissions Rich loam Hatchery produces 200,000 – 300,000 channel catfish annually for stocking in urban lakes.
More than 300 miles of urban canals in Made and Broward counties have fishable populations of butterfly peacock bass, an introduced species that reaches nine pounds. Butterfly peacocks prefer live fish or fish-imitating lures, rather than plastic worms commonly used for large mouth bass.
The best bait for butterfly peacocks is live shiners, but artificial lures also work well, including top water plugs, jigs and crank baits. Moreover, fisheries conservation laws require some fish to be released based on bag (creel) limits or size restrictions.
Strike quickly when a fish takes your bait or lure to reduce the chance of it swallowing the hook. Placing the fish back in the water between photos or measurements can be a good idea, especially if you have a live well×.
If you need to hold the fish horizontally grasp it firmly by the lower jaw and gently under the stomach with a wet hand. Cut line, gently pull shank to reverse hook and remove with pliers.
If necessary, move the fish in a gentle figure eight to pass water over the gills (do not pull it backwards). * Note: taking photos and measurements allows you to submit your fish to Florida's Angler Recognition programs, including TrophyCatch and Big Catch, for certificates and much more. Register now to learn more and for a chance to win great rewards.
** Note: most non-native fish should be harvested and not released, the exceptions are peacock bass and triploid grass carp. If within 30 days of your purchase you're not completely satisfied, simply return it for a full refund or an exchange.
All gear must be returned to the same condition you received it: new & unused, in the original package, with all the tags still attached. Preston Innovations-backed legend TOM PICKERING took us to Hall croft Fishery to show us how to get the best from the little brown fellas.
When it’s cold every fish counts. Your plummet is a very essential item of tackle and making sure you search out the swim will allow you to create a mental picture of the bottom. Here on Moat Lake at Hall croft, there’s a steep slope that flattens off at around four meters, then it’s identical within inches, no matter how far out you go.
It’s important to keep your pole low when you ship back because this will allow you to watch your elastic so you’re able to judge what the fish is doing. A roller positioned in the correct place is a great help as it allows the shipping to be smooth and also prevents you spilling the contents of the pole pot when you feed. Here at Hall croft the fishery owner takes a reading of the lake’s temperature every day, so it’s a little easier to judge how each will fish.
For example, if the lake’s temperature is around 2 °C, then it’s likely to fish hard, but if the water’s 6 °C or more, it’s possible that you’ll need a bigger weight to frame. Talking to the venue expert is usually the most accurate way to find out about this, but fishery owners and other regulars usually know the score, so do a bit of homework before you get out on the bank.
Hall croft is similar to many other venues in that you face anglers on the far bank, so halfway between you and the peg opposite is the maximum distance you can cast. This means you usually chuck into the middle of the lake and that’s often the deepest part of your swim. I’ve noticed that the bomb catches far more fish on windy days than it does on calm ones and I think this is for the following reason.
So, although it’s definitely a line you need to fish, don’t end up spending too long on it if you’re not catching or getting indications regularly. I think it’s very important to feed when you’re fishing the bomb although I know most simply cast the rig into the lake and wait for the tip to go round, but I don’t have enough confidence this way. To make it a winning method for me, I will always introduce two mouthfuls of corn around the area I’m fishing and cast my single grain hook bait on top of that.
Tom prefers to fish with a plummet rather than a standard bomb because it makes a very loud ‘plop’. My only hook choice for this style of fishing is a size 16 Preston PR24 which I’ve found perfect for all sorts of different applications.
Because my first shot is situated 10” away from the hook, the hook bait rises straight off the bottom into the fish’s mouth with very little resistance, whereas if there was a shot in between, that would prevent the bait rising naturally. The main line I use is 0.17 mm Preston Power line and the hook length is 0.13 mm diameter of the same material, which many of you frown upon because it’s so heavy. All you then have to do is add the required amount of water to make them as soft as you like. I find that for this time of year you rarely need any more than a pint of bait for feeding and the feed pellets I use are already sinking ones, but I like to make them soft by soaking them in water once I get to the bank.
I simply soak the pellets for 10 minutes then drain all the water off and leave them to absorb the remaining moisture. Corn can play a large part as the water starts to warm up, especially on the bomb, but pellet is the only other feed I use.
However, if this isn’t the case, I will give it 10 minutes and have a look back on the bomb line if no fish materialize. If you’re getting indications, and they suddenly stop, this can mean a carp has moved into the peg, so just concentrate and you’re usually rewarded with a fish.
By alternating his lines and letting his feed settle Tom put together this tasty bag of Hall croft fish. As the session has progressed I’ve caught a succession of skimmers, all on small expander pellets, but it has been hard work and has taken a lot of concentration to keep the fish coming regularly.
There have been quite a few skimmers in the peg at times and I’ve had a couple pushing the 3lb mark, which are cracking fish to catch, particularly in a match. As I predicted, the swim has gone quiet several times, but because the lake has been flat calm for most of the day, the fish didn’t want to know on the bomb line.
As I said, a lot of the time you’ll catch a fish on your first put-in after reseeding the swim and on most occasions this has been the case. The heavier gear certainly proved its worth today when I hooked a nine-pounder halfway through the session that tore off across the lake.
14.5 meter pole limit. How to find it: From Redford, follow signs for Hall croft Trading Estate (north of the town). Tilapia is far from being the most difficult to catch fish species in the world.
There’s also the Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) with a dull greenish to yellow coloration, sometimes with weak banding. To maximize your catch, you should be looking for tilapia amidst their spawning season.
However, the study that discovered these time frames has been carried out from in 1987-1988 in Lake Alaska, Ethiopia. How exactly the spawning season peaks are in the United States is difficult to say.
Under ideal farming conditions, female tilapia spawn every 17 days. This time span probably won’t be able to be used for practical purposes since if you can fish in ideal conditions, then you probably are a farmer and don’t need any guides.
One piece of info that may help you with catching tilapia is that they are very sensitive to temperatures. Even though tilapia can adapt to a wide variety of conditions, water temperature is a serious limit for them.
Overall, what this means is that as long as you are angling in warm seasons, you should be able to find plenty of fish. This actually makes attracting tilapia towards the bait pretty easy, given that you are fishing at the right time.
Tilapia mainly live in shallow freshwater streams, ponds, rivers, lakes, or other water bodies. Tilapia can sometimes be found in brackish water, but your best bet is to look for this fish in freshwater bodies.
Although Tilapia are native to Africa and the Middle East, they have been introduced to a wide range of locations throughout the world in part due to their unique mild taste. According to the Non indigenous Aquatic Species information resource, there are 17 areas in Florida where Nile tilapia have been observed.
For other states, the number of areas of observation doesn’t exceed 4. For the Nile tilapia, the best place for fishing is thus the waters of Florida.
Wild Mozambique tilapia populations also appear to be in Arizona and California with 14 observation areas each, though the Non indigenous Aquatic Species resource says that there have been no recent observations of the Mozambique tilapia in these areas. Tilapia is small fish, and you don’t really need exceptional equipment to have a good catch.
The most important piece of advice to follow is to use lighter fishing tackle since there is no need to go overkill on your equipment. And if using live bait, go for plant foods such as corn and peas or for bread balls.
And since tilapia are small and light, a monofilament test line with a weight of 4-8 pounds should be more than enough. Do additional research to find out which reel is going to work with your equipment.
You may find umbrella rigs at local fishing tackle stores, online, or make one yourself if you are up to it. Fishing licenses can be purchased annually for a small fee (usually below $50 for state residents) or for life.
In Texas, for example, you have to buy either a freshwater or saltwater endorsement (or both) in addition to a fishing license. Again, make sure to check local regulations to see whether you need to buy any additional endorsements or tags.
Tilapia's are known to cause rapid population declines in other fish species, which ultimately brings imbalance to the ecosystems they are in. Tilapia is also considered to have had a major impact on the decline of the desert pup fish populations in the Salton Sea area.
Fishing tilapia requires prolonged periods of standing and sitting, so you should maintain a posture that’s comfortable for you. Besides, you may want to practice catching easier fish to build endurance.
You may check the links provided above for additional information on the behavior, spawning seasons, or characteristics of tilapia. Keep in mind that the guide below implies some basic knowledge of fishing techniques, equipment, and terminology.
You may add some cheese to the bread, as well as leave it in the fridge overnight to make the balls more durable. Instead, use a small amount of hot water and shake the bag to make sure that all the pellets get wet.
In freshwater bodies like ponds, rivers, or streams, though tilapia can also live in brackish water. At not too great depths since tilapia live in shallow water.
As mentioned above, tilapia are very territorial and thus easier to aggravate and attract to a lure during the spawning season. You could scare the fish away into cover, missing your chance of having any catch at all.
If you picked properly sized lures/bait, then you should have no problems with ensuring that the hook is exposed. If no fish show up within a few minutes, throw fishing pellets into the water again.
Gently control the fishing rod and reel but expect to apply some force since bigger tilapia may give a good fight. We suggest that you give a good read to all the sources we’ve cited throughout the material.