Fishing as a practice is one of the most unifying activities in the world. No matter who you are or what kind of background you may have, if you live anywhere near the coast, a river, a lake, or any other significant body of water, chances are there’s a strong tradition of fishing in the area.
Fishing plays a very important role in our legends and literature. The Feeding of the Multitude is a key story in the Christian New Testament, while fish likewise play a key role in ancient art and literature from the Far East.
The Fisher King looms large in the Arthurian mythos, as does the old fisherman looking for one last catch off the coast of Florida in Ernest Hemingway’s final masterpiece The Old Man and the Sea.
Hemingway himself knew a thing or two about fishing off the coast of Florida. So too did Ted Williams, and “The Splendid Splinter” was as good a fisherman as he was a Hall of Fame batter, putting his hand-eye coordination to use catching marlins long before the South Florida region landed a team in the Miami Marlins.
Oprah Winfrey herself took a turn fishing in the area in 2010. The whole state is a fishing paradise, attracting countless big-game fishermen and families gone fishing alike each year.
There’s nothing quite like a day on the lake spent fishing.
That said, in order to avoid your time there becoming a good day wasted in the same way that golf can be “a good walk spoiled,” as Mark Twain famously described it, you’ll want to make sure to stake out a place where the fish are jumping and the fishing scene is vibrant.
To that end, let’s take a look at some of the best places to go bass fishing in Florida, along with a few other tips that can help make your experience a fishing story for the ages.
Best Florida Bass Fishing
1. Lake Okeechobee
The fact that some of the biggest bass tours operating in the United States make regular stops here should tell you something about how hot of a bass fishing hotspot Lake Okeechobee is. As a result of this attention, the area has the added benefit of having plenty of places which offer accommodations for fishermen and families out on fishing trips. Take the time to look for fishing resorts and hotels in the Lake Okeechobee area, and see which ones might be offering special packages for fishers coming to the area during the bass fishing season.
The area itself covers more than 730 miles, and is one of the most famous bass fishing destinations in the state. The southern half of the lake in particular has a reputation for being active, with the Clewiston and Belle Glade areas being among the best spots to catch bass come springtime. That elevated reputation has made the area quite popular, of course, so you’ll want to follow the old fisherman’s ethos and make sure you play the early bird and get there at daybreak or before in order to stake out your spot before the crowds start flowing in.
One of the best things about the area from a fishing perspective is the astonishing degree of biodiversity in the lake’s waters. You can fish there again and again and see new fish each time you cast a line. What’s more, due to the lake’s centralized location within the state itself, no matter where you live or are visiting in Florida, Lake Okeechobee is easy to reach.
That added convenience along with the incredible bass fishing and scenic views make Lake Okeechobee one of Florida’s premiere fishing destinations overall.
2. The Florida Everglades
If you don’t live in the area, one of the first things you may imagine when you think of the Florida Everglades is gators. Thankfully, they are typically at bay in the areas where bass fishing takes place. The Everglades are an especially great place to catch some largemouth bass.
3. The Butler Chain
If you are looking to do some great fishing in Central Florida, you’ll want to try out this interconnected series of eleven lakes. The water is especially deep here, with some of the deepest parts reaching 40 feet deep. These waters boast some of the most incredible freshwater fishing in the state. The bass are especially active here, with five-pound bass being quite abundant here.
4. Miami Airport Lakes
If you’re looking to squeeze in some last-minute fishing while staying in Miami, you’ll want to try the Blue Lagoon, otherwise known as the Airport Lakes.
The waters there are home to some of the most exotic fish in the entire state. In addition, the fishing there is known for being more difficult than in other places, so if you’re looking to up your bass fishing challenge a bit, this can be a great place to do so.
What’s more, this is yet another fishing destination that boasts a great variety of different types of fish. Among the big catches here are snook, tarpon, and largemouth bass. If you’re looking to do some big-game fishing in the Miami area, this is one place you won’t want to miss.
5. Lake George
Located near beautiful Ocala National Forest, this is a lake that has a reputation for being especially active.
As the second largest lake in the state of Florida. What’s more, there are many tours which are conducted in the area, so if you’re looking to go as part of a group, this can be a great place to go for your next bass fishing holiday.
From Miami to the Everglades to Central Florida and everywhere in between, The Sunshine State boasts some of the best bass fishing destinations in the US – and they’re all just waiting for your next big fishing trip.
Bass Fishing in Florida
For starters, let’s consider which times are best for bass fishing.
After all, fishing is a pastime that depends a great deal on timing. If you are a half a second off in terms of when you cast your line or attempt to reel your fish in, you can lose your catch.
What’s worse, if you go at the wrong time of day or during a less active time of year, you might find yourself unable to catch anything at all.
Even the most active fishing locations go through different seasons which can impact the activity of the fish and thus the overall quality of your fishing experience.
So, when is the best time to go bass fishing in Florida?
That’s going to depend on the fishing conditions in the place in question. If the weather is warm there, then chances are you’ll want to get there early in the morning.
There are a few reasons for this, not the least of which being that while Florida’s natural warmth may be a welcome retreat, especially if you normally live in cold weather conditions, its midday heat can be considerable, to say nothing of how humid it can get as well.
There’s nothing like a warm Florida day spent fishing, sure, but there’s a difference between that and the sticky, oppressively hot Florida heat on a humid day.
Going fishing in the morning thus allows you to have the best of both worlds, allowing you to enjoy the warm weather without melting into a sweaty puddle. In addition, going fishing in the morning can be best from a fishing perspective.
The warm topwater can be great for attracting fish such as peacock and largemouth bass, making it an ideal time to catch them. On the flip side, there are times when Florida experiences a cold front, and when that’s the case, you may be better off fishing during the afternoon.
On the whole, you’re probably best off going when the water is as warm as possible without it being too hot out for you to handle.
This in turn raises the question of what time of year is best for fishing in Florida.
This, again, has more to do with the warmth of the water than anything. You’ll want to come at a time when the water is warm enough for the fish to be active. In addition, to maximize your chances of the fish being active, you’ll want to come at a time when they are mating and spawning.
For the different types of bass which populate Florida’s best fishing locales, this period typically lasts from February through May.
If you are looking to book a fishing trip here, therefore, these months are probably the sweet spot in which to do it if you want to maximize your chances of landing bass or similar trophy fish.
That said, Florida Peacock Bass tend to spawn from April through September. If you are looking to catch that kind of fish in particular, these may be the best months to go.
As you can see from that overlap, therefore, April and May are the best months for bass fishing overall in Florida.
Depending on what lures you are using and the time of year your tackle choices can vary widely.
Many fishermen use a variety of bass fishing rod and reel setups that are quite specialized for example a heavy casting combo for topwater frogs and then a lighter spinning combo for bass when using smaller lures or when fishing worms on a variety of bass rigs.
Personally I like to have one lighter spinning setup and one medium/heavy baitcasting combo as my main go to rods and reels.
The best spinning rod for bass will be roughly 6'10" and have a medium or medium/light power rating.
For heavier work like frogs or large spinnerbaits then I have an specific rod for those applications.
The best spinning reels for bass will fall into the 2000 to 3000 size range and should be capable of holding 120 yards of 10 lbs line.