Sunday, June 24, 2018
Travel

Explore Florida's best bass destinations

Florida boasts more than 7,500 lakes and most support healthy populations of the fast-growing Florida-strain largemouth bass. If you fished each lake just once, it would take you 20 years and six months of consecutive fishing days to do it.

Thankfully, in order to manage these exceptional fishing treasures and to help you plan your next trip, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) routinely surveys most of the state's freshwater fisheries and identifies the most productive bodies of water. Many also offer lakefront accommodations, ranging from down-home to deluxe.

Lake Okeechobee

That three of the biggest bass tours in the U.S. will make 2012 stops on Lake Okeechobee says volumes about how well Lake Okeechobee is fishing. In January, local tournament angler Ron Veale won the annual Gambler Lures tournament on the lake, catching a 35.25-pound, five-fish limit – get this – in 47 minutes, out of Roland Martin Marina in Clewiston. You can also find accommodations and captains based in Okeechobee on the north side of the "Big O."

Lake George

Lake George continues to live up to its reputation as a "big fish" lake, with catch rates of .56 fish per hour to boot. As Florida's second-largest lake, it's one that offers you plenty of room to explore. I've fished it dozens of times and discover new fishing areas each time. Click here for a "tour" of the lake, which straddles North and Central Florida along the eastern border of the Ocala National Forest.

Lake Ocklawaha (Rodman Reservoir)

Recently, an angler reeled in a 17.2-pound bass from this freshwater fishing haven, nearly tying the state record. Located southwest of Palatka, 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. It is the year to fish Rodman. Check out rodmanreservoir.com to learn more.

Local tournament angler Ron Veale won the annual Gambler Lures tournament on Lake Okeechobee, catching a 35.25-pound, five-fish limit – get this – in 47 minutes

Everglades Water Conservation Areas 2 and 3

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.

Tenoroc Fish Management Area

When well-known bass writer Jim Porter returned from a six-month "research mission" on Tenoroc, which is northeast of Lakeland in Central Florida. He and his colleagues reported releasing 24 bass weighing more than 9 pounds each over a six-month period – on artificial lures. That's what's coming out of these 14 lakes ranging in size from seven to 227 acres. Learn more about the area.

Mosaic Fish Management Area

Catches on the 1,000-acre Mosaic Fish Management Area, which opened in 2010, average more than one fish per hour. Try to get there before word gets out about this rediscovered Florida fishing area, located near Fort Meade in Polk County.

Lake Tohopekaliga (Toho)

Habitat enhancements have paid big dividends for legendary Lake "Toho" of the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. Angler surveys indicate catch success at 0.82 fish per hour, which is well above Florida averages. 2012 should be another outstanding year. For Virginia angler Lucas Knott, it already has been. In January, he landed a personal-best 9-pound bass fishing with Capt. Ed Bussard.

Lake Talquin

Located just outside Tallahassee, this 8,800-acre reservoir offers "capital" bass fishing. Anglers can expect an average 0.58 bass per hour and a lot of big fish. This is one of the best "bass slam" lakes in the country. Catch a largemouth, a striper, a white bass and a spotted bass in one trip. Visit floridastateparks.org/laketalquin.

Harris Chain of Lakes

The Harris Chain of Lakes, in Central Florida in the aptly named Lake County, was once choked with pollution. Now, the chain's story amounts to a great comeback. Just ask BASSMASTER Elite Series angler Chris Lane, who caught a three-day total of 72 pounds, 11 ounces when fishing here in late January. Visit harrischainbassguideservice.com.

Lake Tarpon

The St. Petersburg area enjoys a secret bass honey hole – Lake Tarpon – the "jewel of Pinellas County." This lake has quietly but consistently produced high-quality largemouth bass fishing for decades. Tournament winners on Tarpon average 20-pound, five-fish stringers per day. Visit laketarpon.org.

This story was first published on VISITFLORIDA.com.

Comments
Finding the fun in a family road trip

Finding the fun in a family road trip

When Matt Villano sets out on the 560-mile road trip from his home in Healdsburg, California, to San Diego in July, his game plan will be carefully crafted. When you’re traveling with three kids under age 10, you have no choice.Villano, a freelance w...
Published: 06/23/18
Puerto Vallarta is a dreamy Mexican getaway within reach

Puerto Vallarta is a dreamy Mexican getaway within reach

LOREN ELLIOTT • Times CorrespondentPUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICOThe third-floor balcony attached to our rented apartment served as a peaceful refuge above Puerto Vallarta’s bustling central district streets. Below us, taxis honked, people crowded bus ...
Published: 06/15/18
High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

High-tech nighttime lagoon show coming to Universal Orlando this summer

A gliding, wraith-like figure of a Dementor from the Harry Potter films enters Central Park, and the exteriors of the surrounding buildings immediately are covered in a layer of ice, a sign of their power to drain happiness out of the air around them...
Published: 06/14/18
Frito and Cheeto: How rescued seahorses found webcam fame

Frito and Cheeto: How rescued seahorses found webcam fame

Smile for the camera, Frito. The world is watching, and you have a story to tell. The tiny seahorse came to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Sunday with fishing line wrapped around her neck. By Wednesday, she became the CMA’s newest internet ...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
Busch Gardens brings back fireworks, free Adventure Island pass with Fun Card

Busch Gardens brings back fireworks, free Adventure Island pass with Fun Card

Back "by popular demand" Busch Gardens has announced the Tampa theme park will once again have a fireworks on weekends this summer, and the park also brought back its deal that gets you a free pass to Adventure Island water park with the purchase of ...
Published: 06/12/18
SeaWorld bans plastic bags, straws to combat ocean pollution

SeaWorld bans plastic bags, straws to combat ocean pollution

Collin the sea turtle, with a belly full of plastic garbage, may have been the last straw. SeaWorld announced all its parks and properties, including Busch Gardens in Tampa and Sesame Place, will ban plastic drinking straws and plastic bags. The anno...
Published: 06/12/18
Universal to have a record 10 haunted houses for Halloween Horror Nights

Universal to have a record 10 haunted houses for Halloween Horror Nights

Universal Orlando has announced that there will be a record 10 haunted houses for this year’s edition of Halloween Horror Nights. They haven’t all been revealed yet, but there will be a maze based on the first season of Netflix’s Stranger Things and ...
Published: 06/11/18
I went all the way to Seattle to discover the true meaning of Starbucks

I went all the way to Seattle to discover the true meaning of Starbucks

SEATTLE -- Every Starbucks experience in my life has been roughly the same. I wait in a never-unreasonable line to order. I squint at soulless foodstuff. Some soft pop plays. I order. I wait a never-unreasonable amount of time for my beverage and sn...
Updated one month ago
‘Seven Magic Mountains’ near Las Vegas is an Instagram dream

‘Seven Magic Mountains’ near Las Vegas is an Instagram dream

We have all come to this spot in the desert for one thing: Seven Magic Mountains.Two years ago last month, the large-scale public artwork by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone rose on this stretch of land roughly 30 minutes south of the Las Vegas Strip. The ...
Updated one month ago
Busch Gardens, SeaWorld running flash sales with price cut of $40 or more

Busch Gardens, SeaWorld running flash sales with price cut of $40 or more

Busch Gardens and SeaWorld are running a flash sale that can save you $40 or more for single-day or annual tickets, but the sale ends Sunday. Busch Gardens is selling single-day tickets for $45, but they must be used by July 1. For $59, a Fun Card gi...
Updated one month ago