What's hot: The next two full moons will bring a spawning frenzy of my favorite fish, the speckled perch. In the full moons of January, February and March, these panfish, also called crappie, will move into shallow water and in grass beds along the shore to spawn, making them easy to find. These feisty little fish average only 10 to 16 inches but put on a fight that makes for a family fun day of fishing using cane poles and simple tackle.
Tactics: I prefer to fish in the Kissimmee chain of lakes where there's abundant Kissimmee grass along the shoreline. You can fish in the grass using an electric motor moving along and dipping bait in holes in the grass line. Or you can anchor on the edges, put out a few cane poles and wait. You can use live bait on a No. 8 or No. 10 hook, a spit shot and small bobber keeping the bait about a foot from the bottom. The other bait of choice is a crappie jig.
Where to go: Lake Tarpon in Pinellas County has a good population of crappie, but the fish are harder to find because the lake does not have grass. The most famous lake for crappie is Okeechobee.
Jackie Otto can be reached at Betts Fishing Center at email@example.com or (727) 518-7637.