We’ve already listed our favorite water systems of the state; today we’ll focus on North Florida. From the Panhandle to Jacksonville and to parts of the North Central Florida area, such as Gainesville and Ocala, there are plenty of water systems calling you to come fish.
It’s a location known for boating and fishing and you’ll find lots of activity on the lake throughout the year. Florida's anglers can start their trip from Chattahoochee, FL and either fish from a boat or from the banks.
Located to the west of Florida ’s state capital Tallahassee is Lake Alcuin, an 8,800-acre reservoir. During the spring spawn season large mouth bass are found near the grass flats in waters 4 to 7 feet deep.
Located 20 miles southeast of Gainesville is this 12,550 acre lakes that bass fishermen and women visit often. Head to the east side of Orange Lake where lily pads and vegetation create a habitat that large mouth bass love to eat and spawn.
Cane Hammock is another part of the lake on the eastern shoreline that anglers love to visit. When the water levels are high enough, anglers can pass through a small canal to Okaloosa Lake, another fantastic fishing spot for large mouth bass.
As you get closer to the coast the salinity levels are higher and you’ll start to see saltwater species such as redfish, trout, and shook. Depending on which part of the St. John’s you fish, you could end up with a very mixed bag of both freshwater and saltwater species.
It’s located on the east side of the Ocala National Forest and can be accessed by the public off Highway 40. Large mouth bass may draw the anglers to this large North Florida lake, but you’ll also find bluegill and crappie available for the taking.
The submerged structures of timber and grass beds create healthy habitats for the local fish species. No matter what lake you decide to fish, either one listed above or your own favorite, it’s a great day to be on the water.
The striped and hybrid bass fishing can be wonderful here in northwest Florida, but is often overlooked by many local anglers. The colder months are the most popular time to catch both striped and hybrid bass because they move into the tidal sections of the river closer to the bays.
Both live bait and artificial lures can be very productive for striped and hybrid bass. A lipped, hard plastic jerk bait will also be productive and allow you to cover the entire are you are fishing.
The lights attract bait fish and the striped and hybrid bass will go there to feed. A free lined live shrimp thrown into the light works well and if the fish are there they will normally bite.
An interesting and unusual bass fishery occurs in the lower reaches of the river where it meets tidewater in March and April and again in late October as shrimp move into the marshes of the delta. The river splits into a number of narrow and shallow side channels before flowing into the open waters of Apalachicola Bay, providing many miles of wooded shoreline and winding creeks.
Fat-bodied crank baits with lots of flotation are one of the best bets for this action because they allow fast coverage of water to find concentrations of fish. Jigs are also effective, and get a lot better in late March and on into early May as the fish go through the pre-dawn, spawn and post-spawn periods around shoreline brush.
There are numerous shoals, some barely ankle deep, when the water is low, so easing along slowly is a must when under outboard power. The routine is to tie to the orange-buoyed cable that keeps boaters out of the race itself and cast up into the fast water with 1/3- to 1/2-ounce jigs usually trimmed with 4- to 5-inch swimmer tails in pearl or chartreuse.
In fact, during dry conditions, much of the river cannot be navigated in a powerboat, though it remains a good float trip for kayaks and canoe anglers. Very small top water lures like the Papal F4 and the smallest Rebels are a good choice because they will catch everything from large mouths to Suwanee bass to an assortment of pan fish, and since they float they are much less likely to get into snag trouble.
Throw them as tight to the brush, and work them in a series of sharp jerks out to about 10 feet off the bank before reeling in to hit the next likely spot. In some areas the river splits into numerous tongues through the forest, and determining which way to follow it can be a coin toss without a GPS aboard (Don't depend on cell phone navigation, the towers don't necessarily reach out here).
Tides and brackish water can be found as much as 15 miles upriver from the mouth, depending on moon phase. The Choctawhatchee River is Florida's third largest in terms of volume, flowing 96 miles from the Alabama border into the bay of the same name.
Bass action is in snags and overhangs in the middle and upriver areas, and around the saw grass edges in the lower sections where the river valley becomes a flat, slow-flowing delta with multiple side creeks. Holmes Creek, a spring-fed tributary of the Choctawhatchee, offers good pan fishing, particularly for big shell crackers in spring and early summer.
Thankfully, in order to manage these exceptional fishing treasures and to help you plan your next trip you can check out these Floridabassfishing tips. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FCC) also routinely surveys most of the state’s freshwater fisheries and identifies the most productive bodies of water.
You can also find accommodations and captains based in Okeechobee on the north side of the “Big O.” Click here for a “tour” of the lake, which straddles North and Central Florida along the eastern border of the Ocala National Forest.
Recently, an angler reeled in a 17.2-pound bass from this freshwater fishing haven, nearly tying the state record. Located southwest of Alaska, the reservoir is undergoing a drawdown this winter to enhance critical habitats, and the lower water levels will concentrate bass this year to enhance future bass populations.
More than 1,100 acres of Everglades marsh and 200 miles of canals offer urban anglers launching out of Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties plenty of room to explore. Surveys in the peak month of April estimated a whopping 4.1 bass per hour average in the L-67A Canal.
It is my personal favorite area to fly-fish for bass in Florida, as it offers outstanding top-water action throughout the spring and summer months. Check out nearby destinations Palm Beach, Miami and Fort Lauderdale for accommodations and charters.
Try to get there before word gets out about this rediscovered Florida fishing area, located near Fort Meade in Polk County. Angler surveys indicate catch success at 0.82 fish per hour, which is well above Florida averages.
Anglers can expect an average 0.58 bass per hour and a lot of big fish. Just ask Bandmaster Elite Series angler Chris Lane, who caught a three-day total of 72 pounds, 11 ounces when fishing here in late January.
Stretching from Tarpon Bay, all the way up through Naples and beyond, the west coast of Florida spans a vast area of outstanding natural beauty and untold fishing opportunities. The west coast of Florida is “tarpon central”, with huge numbers of these armour-plated leviathans showing up from May onwards on their annual migration.