Catch More Big Florida Bass
If you would try to predict when the best time to catch big Florida bass might occur, the fourth of July would not be on the calendar, but maybe it should be. My son Greg and friend Tom Morgan traveled to Winter Haven FL with their wives Dawn and Tami. The Morgans have a home on a chain of lakes and a nice bass boat waiting.
Shortly after their arrival, Greg called with some typical “Bramwell bad luck.” The boat had been at the dealership since March for a trolling motor problem. The replacement part had yet to arrive. Greg and Tom began searching for guide services. They found one. They learned that the guide has been a full-time guide for 20 years. Through a phone call, I learned that he had been fishing tournaments for 30-years.
The three met at the ramp at first light. Modern electronics and the skill to use them put the anglers over an 11-foot weed-bed. The fish finder showed a school of minnows hanging over the cover. The weeds came to within five feet or so of the surface. The guide expected they could catch a few big Florida bass down in the weeds. As it turned out there was a big school of big bass. Weeds are a favorite to big Florida bass in the summer when the shallow waters heat up they hide in them where the shade cools the deeper water where they grow.
Live Bait Tackle For Big Florida Bass
Using spinning outfits with Penn bait-runner reels spooled with 30# Berkeley braid and fluorocarbon leaders a live shiner was fished on a 3/0 circle hook five feet below a bobber. “Dad, we caught 25 bass. It was like being in a school of bluegills. Seldom did we go more than eight minutes without a fish on. Most of them were between three and six pounds,” Greg said.
They used 3/0 – 5/0 circle or kayle hooks depending on the cover and the size of shiners available. The Central Florida Guide said, “I don’t use any weight. I want that big minnow looking as natural as possible.” One of the shiners, according to Greg, came out of the water trying to escape a big bass. Too often, visiting anglers make the mistake of only fishing shoreline weeds and lily pads, but the water is just too warm in the shallows once surface temperatures creep into the 80s. Also, some of these lakes stratify during warm months leaving too little oxygen in the shallows.
Some anglers don’t want to use live bait and you can’t when fishing tournaments. When artificial baits are used a 10-inch Berkley plastic worms work great for big Florida Strain Bass. Drop down to a five inch worm when the bite is tough. Keep it simple on the colors; red/shad, junebug, green, and blue/black works well on Florida bass.
Florida Bass Spawn
You can catch big Florida bass year-round in Central Florida. The spawn is stretched out from December to April and a big female will add a lot of weight when laden with eggs. A Florida bass can carry up to 10% of its body weight in roe or eggs. Not only do the bass gain 10% in eggs but it also puts on weight in preparation for the spawn. It is realistic to consider that at the right time during the spawn a largemouth bass might gain at least 2 pounds in body weight.
Why Florida Bass Are Bigger
Florida bass grow up in the optimum habitats for a fish. There is no wonder why so many anglers head south to catch big Florida bass every year. The long warm seasons allow for a long growing season. Over eons the Florida strain largemouth bass has evolved into a growing machine taking full advantage of this habitat as well as the abundance of forage. Shiners would be a Florida strain bass’ main forage and they also benefit from the warmer climes and produce prolifically, therefore completing the circle. Florida largemouth also feed on many other forage such as the great numbers of bluegills, crayfish and snakes to name a few.
Where To Fish For Big Florida Bass
Big bass live in many Florida lakes and rivers from large to small. Here is a few notable Florida bass waters for you to check into.
Lake George continues to live up to its reputation as a “big Florida bass” lake. As Florida’s second-largest lake, Lake George offers a high catch rate and it’s one that offers plenty of room to search for those big bass. I’ve fished it dozens of times and discover new fishing areas each time. Lake George is located in both North and Central Florida on the eastern side of the Ocala National Forest. The tried-and-true techniques of most waters, live bait such as minnows, crayfish or worms, fished around structure will yield fish, and Lake George annually gives up plenty of largemouths topping 5 pounds.
Harris Chain Of Lakes
The Harris Chain of Lakes,One of Central Florida’s most popular lake, or chain of lakes, has to be The Harris Chain of Lakes. These lakes were once badly polluted, but has had a great comeback and is now home to some giant Florida bass. You can see just how healthy these lakes are when a Bassmaster Elite series comes to town. Albeit, some of the the best anglers on planet earth, but the weights brought to the scales prove that The Harris Chain is healthy and the bass are there to catch. Flipping is a very popular way to catch big Florida bass on The Harris Chain. Locating spawning areas around the reeds and cattails. Flipping into these areas can produce some large females as they prepare to spawn. Another technique is the Texas rigged worm. Junebug is a popular color and shell beds are the best place to drag a big Berkley Ole’ Monster worm.
Lake Woodruff is home to a lot of big Florida bass. I can personally vouch for this lake as I used to spend my summers there at Highland Park Fish Camp with my dad. In fact we won the very first bass tournament I ever entered on Lake Woodruff. I also have 3 bass over 10 pounds hanging here in my office all caught on Lake Woodruff in the dead os summer on a Texas rigged Red/shad Culprit worm. This was my dad’s favorite bait for big Florida bass and is the bait that I learned how to fish the plastic worm. I will add that the tournament we won was won on a shad rap. I think it was the first year it came out. Not sure many people throw it on Florida Lakes so you might want to give it a try.
Here is a photo of one of my Dad’s bass that I am so glad to have. You see the Smithwick Rogue hanging in the bass’ mouth? That is a story in itself and is the reason my dad started bass fishing and therefore I started too. Read the story here.
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