Ahh good old Florida. It’s known as the fishing capital of the world and for good reason. Florida has some of the most spectacular fishing that you’ll ever experience from saltwater to trophy largemouth bass. One of the reasons that the fishing is unlike anywhere else here is simply because Florida is literally unlike anywhere else. While for the most part the rest of the country fishes very similar for bass, Florida’s unique shallow grassy lakes and ponds can be a challenge for those who have never fished here. It is so unique that even watching videos or reading articles on how to catch bass that aren’t specifically made for Florida can be of no help. But not to worry that’s why I’ve created this simple guide on how to conquer the bassy waters of Florida and catch that Florida ditch melon you’ve been looking for.
I’m going to split this up into two simple categories. Ponds and lakes. Because ponds are more accessible for most people I’m going to start with them. If you’re more interested in fishing lakes then feel free to skip ahead to the next part.
How to fish Florida’s Ponds:
Alright I’m going to keep this very simple because the last thing you want to do to fishing is make it complicated! So the first thing you’re obviously going to want to do is find some ponds that have good fish in them. Driving around and spotting ponds works but with thousands of ponds all around the best and most efficient way to do it is on Google Earth or anything like it that shows a satellite view.
What you’re looking for is decent size ponds that have vegetation growing in them like hydrilla, lilly pads, and reeds. Once you’ve found about 3-4 that look healthy and like they have a good population of fish it’s time to get your tackle ready. Now here in Florida you’re going to want to use heavier line. I use 30-40 pound braid personally but you can get away with 12- 15 pound mono or fluorocarbon. Like with everything else keep it simple with the lures. What the pond has in it is going to help choose what lures to use.
If there are a lot of lily pads senkos/ worms are the way to go with maybe a frog for good measure. Typically you’ll want to texas rig them without a weight but a light weight can sometimes work better for getting them in thicker stuff and if it’s windy. Usually the weightless is the way to go however. The two main colors to use in Florida are junebug and greenpumkin. Throw them around and in the pads (or any type of vegetation, you can really throw these anywhere) and let them sink all the way to the bottom, slowly drag them back to you and watch your line jump!
Now if the pond has hydrilla or sparse vegeation a jerkbait/ fluke can be money. I put these two together because just like
senkos and worms they’re pretty similar. Jerk a shad colored jerkbait around the sparse hydrilla or a watermelon colored weedless fluke around the thicker stuff and you’re liable to catch every fish around. Now knowing how to use each of these correctly is extremely important and can make the difference between a disappointing day and an unforgettable one. It’s just a matter of getting the muscle memory down. Jerkbaits are one of my favorite all time lures. I have a few good videos explaining how to use jerkbaits on my YouTube channel youtube.com/orlandobass
Now between senkos/ worms and jerkbaits/flukes you should be set but a few other good and easy to use lures to have are
Zoom speed worms in watermelon or junebug colors and a chatterbait or two in white or greenpumpkin colors. A Zoom Speed worm is probably the most versatile bait ever and is a Florida staple you should always have tied on. Texas rig it with a 3/16 ounce weight on the front and you can drag it like a worm on the bottom, just reel it in, or rip it across the top. A chatterbait… let’s be honest is just plain fun to use. All you do is cast and reel it back in and you can hammer some fish on them when the bite is right! Now a Big EZ is another Florida staple that just simply catches fish. It is a swimbait made by Gambler and it has a special action that fish can’t resist. Rig it up on a swimbait hook and just cast and slowly retrieve. It’s that simple.
Where to start fishing
Once you have your lures rigged it’s time to figure out where you’re going to start. What you’re going to want to do is find the high percentage areas. These are areas that simply have a higher chance of holding good groups of bass. Good examples are points. These are areas of grass or land that come out to a point. Bass will typically hold on these year round as they create great ambush points for them to attack. Another example is pockets which are basically the opposite of a point. Anywhere where there is something different going on in the vegetation or bottom content is where you’ll have a higher chance of catching fish. Then it’s just a matter of fishing these areas and keeping at it, don’t worry if you’re not catching anything. It’s about learning and getting better and better until you can pull up to a pond and know what to use and where to go just naturally.
How to fish Florida’s Lakes:
Okay now first off you have to understand that where the fish are going to be in each Florida Lake (or any lake really) is relative to what that lake has to offer. If you’re fishing a lake that has a lot of offshore vegetation chances are that the majority of the fish are going to be offshore year round only leaving to the shallows to spawn. While the fish in a lake that doesn’t have any offshore vegetation or structure will stay shallow and in the maidencane grass or reeds year round. So first when fishing a Florida lake look at what the lake as a whole has to offer. Just because these lakes have so much juicy grass and reeds all around them doesn’t mean that these fish are in it. Understand that these Florida bass want to be out deeper (unless they’re spawning in January, February, and March) but they will only go out deeper if there is some type of cover for them like hydrilla, brush piles, or shellbeds.
How to find the best areas
While brush piles and shell beds can be great ways to catch them they can also be a pain to find and in the effort of trying to keep this simple I’m not going to bother with explaining them. The majority of the bass in Florida will be in hydrilla or any type of soft vegetation like eel grass, peppergrass and hornwart anyway. But just because you found some good looking hydrilla doesn’t mean they are going to be in it. With so much great looking vegetation in these lakes these fish are going to be in the best of the best of it.
Now how do you find the best of the best of it? Well what you’re going to want to see is if it’s clean and still growing. What I
mean by that is if the patch is matted out and it is not continuing to grow up around it, that patch is done growing and there may be no fish in it. What you want to find is hydrilla that is continuing to grow out and is cleaning up the water. That is what will have the most nutrients and cover for the bait fish which in turn will hold the bass there. Now if you can find a mix of different types of vegetation like hydrilla, eel grass, and pepper grass all mixed together then you’ve found a money spot and I GUARANTEE you that there’s fish there. It’s just a matter of how many and how big and that can only be found out by fishing.
Now again it’s all relative to the lake you’re fishing. If there isn’t new fresh growing hydrilla then they’ll be in the older stuff that has stopped growing or if there isn’t a good population of submerged grass then they’ll be up shallower in the maidencane and reeds.
Alright so again just like with pond fishing once you find an area that is likely to hold fish you want to keep an eye out for high percentage spots. Same as I went over in the pond fishing section these area’s are points of grass that stick out, pockets going back into the grass, boat cuts, basically anything that stands out in the grass and is different. These are the areas that are more likely to hold fish and you’ll want to focus on them.
Lures to use
The lures you’re going to want to use are the same as I mentioned above in the pond fishing section. These are Florida staples that you can never go wrong with and should always have tied on. Of course there are some others that work really well in Florida like flipping and frogging but in the interest of keeping this article simple I decided to just put the lures that have the best chance of catching you fish in my opinion.
In the next blog I’ll be going over in detail the top 7 lures to use in Florida for bass fishing and how exactly to use them. If you’d like to be notified when that blog is posted go ahead and sign up for our newsletter below! I hope this article helps you fill your Instagram with fish pics. And always remember to keep at it. It’s not about hammering them everyday it’s about learning and getting better everyday until going out and pulling in big bags of bass is like second nature.