Your Handbook to Bass Fishing in Florida

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When most people think of fishing in Florida, they think of heading out on a chartered boat and casting off into the sea. However, Florida has 3 million acres of fishable lakes, reservoirs, and ponds, as well as 12,000 miles of fishable rivers and canal systems. Freshwater fishing is a big deal in the Sunshine State and bass fishing in Florida is some of the best you’ll find in the country.

Bass fishing in Florida is some of the most diverse angling you’ll find anywhere in the nation. You can cast off for several different species of bass in Florida: Largemouth, Redeye, Spotted, Peacock, Bluegill, Redbreast, Redeared, Black, and Striped. You can catch bass year-round in Florida in the state’s over 8,000 lakes.

Ready to learn more about bass fishing in Florida? Find where to catch bass in the Sunshine State, the best time of year to catch them, what you need to fish for bass, and more. You’ll be ready for your next freshwater fishing trip in no time!

Where is the Best Bass Fishing in Florida?

The Sunshine State is 18.5% water. With 700 springs, 1,700 unique streams and rivers, and more than 8,000 lakes, you’ll find many opportunities for bass fishing in Florida. You’ll find great bass fishing scattered across the state, from the northernmost Panhandle to the very tip of South Florida.

Bass Fishing on Lake Okeechobee

The best bass fishing in Florida just might be on Lake Okeechobee. This massive lake, known as Florida’s Inland Sea, spans 730 square miles.

Lake Okeechobee is in the South Central part of Florida and  Glades, Okeechobee, Martin, Palm Beach and Hendry counties all meet in the middle. It’s about a 90-mile drive to Lake Okeechobee from Fort Myers.

Lake Okeechobee is known as one of the best bass fishing spots not just in Florida, but in the whole U.S. Largemouth bass is king here. The lake’s record catch is a 15 lb, 5 oz largemouth, but anglers routinely reel in 5-10 lb largemouth bass here year-round.

Other Places for the Best Bass Fishing in Florida

While Lake Okeechobee might be the top destination in Florida for bass fishing, it’s certainly not the only one! The state’s lakes, rivers, and freshwater canals all make great places to cast off for the variety of bass fish that live in Florida’s inland waters.

Here are a few other choices for the best bass fishing in Florida lakes:

  • Lake George in the Ocala National Forest
  • Lake Ocklawaha near Palatka
  • Lake Tohopekaliga near Kissimmee
  • Lake Ida near Delray Beach
  • Lake Talquin near Tallahassee
  • Lake Tarpon near St. Petersburg
  • Lake Istokpoga near Seabring
  • Orange Lake near Hawthrone

Bass fishing in Florida isn’t limited to lakes. You’ll also catch bass in the St. Johns River, the Golden Gate Canal in Southwest Florida, and even in the Everglades. Basically, if it is a large body of freshwater in Florida, you’ll likely find bass.

Is There a Bass Season in Florida

Is There a Bass Season in Florida?

You can catch bass year-round in Florida. According to the most recent bass fishing forecasts from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), you’ll find good bass fishing in most Florida lakes and rivers from July through September 2022.

While the bass fishing in Florida is good year-round, you might have the best luck catching your trophy bass during the spring. You might find bass fishing is best when the fish are spawning. In South Florida, this might happen as early as January, in North Florida, this might happen as late as May.

What Do You Need to Catch Bass in Florida?

Catching bass in Florida requires a little know-how and the right equipment. In addition to your Florida Freshwater Fishing License, you’ll need to have the right bait and gear for successful bass fishing in Florida.

Gear for Bass Fishing in Florida

Of course, you’ll need the basics when bass fishing in Florida. The most essential gear includes a rod, reel, and fishing line. Beginners might have good luck with a spinning rod and reel, with basic 8-lb fishing line.

Learn more about choosing the right rod and reel.

You’ll also need a tackle box with the right weights, hooks, and terminal tackle. You might choose weights in varying sizes to reach fish in different depths of water levels. Some experts suggest choosing weights between ⅛ oz and ½ oz, with a ¼ oz weight being an optimal choice.

You’ll also have a few options when it comes to hooks. Some people experienced with bass fishing in Florida suggest using either offset work hooks or drop shot hooks.

Barrel swivels and split rings are also tacklebox essentials and will come in handy when casting off for bass.

Bait for Bass Fishing in Florida

The bait you use when fishing for bass depends on the body of water you’re fishing. Bass bite when the bait looks tasty and that can vary by location.

For example, if the water you’re fishing has few crawfish and you choose this bait, the bass might not bite because they’re not used to seeing this kind of food. Local guides and even the staff at a nearby bait shop can tell you what’s biting where you are.

As a general rule, though, the bass pros often recommend small bluegill or live wild shiners. You’ll want to be careful when hooking the fish, as the bass love to see the fish wiggling and moving naturally in the water before they bite.

You can also use artificial lures when bass fishing in Florida. Some of the best lures, or artificial baits, you can use for bass include spinner bait, skirted bass jig, Stick Bait, and tube bait.

What Kind of Bass Do They Have in Florida?

With so much water, it’s likely no surprise that you’ll find all kinds of bass in Florida. In fact, you’ll find 10 species of bass here in the Sunshine State. This diversity is part of what makes Florida such a great destination for bass fishing.

The types of bass you’ll find in Florida include:

  1. Largemouth: The largemouth bass is the biggest bass you’ll find in Florida’s freshwaters. It is often found in clear, non-flowing lakes and ponds.
  2. Butterfly Peacock: The butterfly peacock bass, sometimes just called a peacock bass, was introduced to Southeast Florida in 1984. They haven’t strayed far from this initial habitat and you’ll find them in canals and rivers in this region.
  3. Redeye Bass: Redeye bass are rare in Florida, but you might find them in the northern-most part of the state. They are more common in Georgia and Alabama.
  4. Spotted Bass: Found in the Florida panhandle, spotted bass live in smaller to medium-sized streams. They often eat crayfish or crawdads, fish, and insects.
  5. Striped Bass: Like redeye and spotted bass, striped bass are also limited to North Florida rivers and streams. You might also find them in reservoirs, but very rarely in natural lakes.
  6. Sunshine Bass: The sunshine bass isn’t actually a species of bass — it’s a hybrid. The sunshine bass is a cross between a striped bass and a white bass. They are stocked in lakes across Florida and you’ll find they grow the biggest in the northern part of the state.
  7. Black Crappie: You’ll find black crappie throughout Florida, except for in the Keys. They live in slower-moving rivers, reservoirs, and natural lakes. Many anglers like fishing for black crappie because they are known to be excellent for eating — especially when rolled in cornmeal and fried.
  8. Bluegill: Bluegills are one of the most popular sports fish in Florida and the rest of the U.S. They are known for great eating and can be caught with both natural bait and artificial lures. You’ll find them across Florida in shady, weedy waters in lakes, ponds, and rivers.
  9. Redbreast Sunfish: Common in North and Central Florida, the redbreast sunfish are the most dominant species of sunfish and bass in this part of the state’s rivers and streams. They are known for excellent eating.
  10. Redear Sunfish: Less common than the redbreast sunfish, the redear sunfish can be found in almost every natural body of freshwater in Florida. You’ll find a large population of redear sunfish in the Everglades and they are often in waters away from the shore. They are said to taste similar to bluegill.

What Kind of Bass Can You Catch in Southwest Florida?

What Kind of Bass Can You Catch in Southwest Florida?

Southwest Florida’s canals are famous for bass fishing. The Golden Gate Canal, located in Naples, regularly tops lists of best bass fishing destinations in Florida. However, the Cape Coral canals and Lehigh Acres canals are also great places for bass fishing in Southwest Florida.

But what kind of bass can you catch in the canals of Southwest Florida? Some of the best bass fish to catch in Southwest Florida include:

  • Largemouth bass
  • Bluegills
  • Redear sunfish
  • Black crappie

Learn more about fishing in Southwest Florida with our complete guide to Florida fishing!

Make Florida Fishing Great from Port Sanibel Marina

There’s no denying that Florida is one of the top destinations in the U.S. for fishing. Bass fishing in Florida is world-renowned.

If saltwater or ocean fishing is more your speed, Port Sanibel Marina is the perfect place to start your day on the water. With boat rentals and even fishing charters with an expert captain, you’ll love setting out from our location right on the Gulf of Mexico.

Ready to learn more, reach out to Port Sanibel Marina by phone at 239-437-1660 or contact us online now.