Florida Bass Fishing – The Complete Guide
Jul 12, 2021 | 7 minute read
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Bass fishing in Florida uncovers incredible opportunities for any angler. These monsters live in just about every river, lake, pond, and canal – if there’s freshwater and something to feed on, there’s Bass. Because of this, the Sunshine State is like a trophy Bass factory. 

Smiling angler holding big Largemouth Bass on a boat in Florida

These predators are among the most sought-after freshwater game fish in the United States. And Florida is the perfect environment for Bass, with its shallow fertile lakes and abundant vegetation. You’ll never get bored with Bass fishing here, because it would take you decades to explore every spot! In our guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Florida Bass fishing. 

Florida Bass Species

Largemouth Bass

As we already mentioned, Bass is among the most popular freshwater game fish in the country, and Largemouth is the king of them all. There are multiple tournaments, shows, and even video games dedicated to Largemouth Bass. If you hear someone say they’re going Bass fishing, they probably mean Largemouth Bass.

A happy laughing angler with Largemouth Bass

Where can you find Largemouth Bass in Florida? Everywhere! Largemouth are found statewide in rivers and lakes, as well as upper estuaries, reservoirs, and ponds. They live in brackish to freshwater habitats along underwater structure and vegetation. Largemouth Bass prefer depths less than 20 feet and water temperatures up to 85 degrees. 

Peacock Bass

Peacock Bass are iconic in South Florida and are sometimes called “the other Bass.” There are around 15 different species of this fish, with the Butterfly Peacock being the most common. Just take a look below to see how beautiful these fish are:

Angler holding large Peacock Bass on a Florida freshwater fishing trip

Florida Peacock Bass are usually caught in the warm waters of the Snapper Creek and the Tamiami Canals System in Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and the Golden Gate Canal System in Naples. 

…and even more Bass!

There are other Bass beyond the Largemouth and Peacock Bass. Head to Lake Seminole and the Apalachicola River, and you might find freshwater Striped Bass. Then there’s native White Bass which is fun to catch on light tackle in the Apalachicola and Ochlockonee rivers. 

Finally, there are Sunshine Bass, hybrids that look like both Striped and White Bass. They prefer cooler waters in North Florida, although you can also fish for them as far south as Lake Osborne in West Palm Beach.

The Best Techniques to Hook a Big Bass

Bass is arguably the most popular freshwater game fish in Florida (if not in the U.S.), so there are various fishing methods and techniques that local professionals have adopted throughout the years. The Bass is famous for its aggressive attitude and will easily strike your bait or lure as hard as it can. 

Young anglers on a boat with 5 Largemouth Bass

Speaking of bait and lures, Largemouth Bass are usually taken on surface plugs, crankbaits, shiner minnows, plastic worms (which Peacock Bass don’t like, by the way!) and spinnerbaits, as well as live bait. Anglers swim a spoon in grass, chug a frog across surface vegetation, and use a plethora of lures, hooks, and everything in between. Some prefer to hook Bass in and around grass, reeds, and docks, while others head to open water. 

Bass can be targeted with casting and spinning tackle, as well as fly gear. Do whatever it takes to make them bite, because once they do, the real action begins. 

Top Florida Bass Fishing Spots

The Sunshine State offers hundreds of lakes, ponds, and rivers where you can fish for your favorite Bass. With so many options, how can you know where to start your Florida Bass fishing adventure? Let’s go through the list of well-renowned places throughout the state. 

North Florida

Beginning your Bass adventure in North Florida is always a good idea. You can start with the Rodman Reservoir on the Ocklawaha River in Putnam and Marion counties, where you can get your hands on trophy Largemouth Bass catches any time of year. 

The Ocklawaha River in Florida

Of course, the St. Johns River is always a treat. This beautiful waterway is actually Florida’s longest river with a 310-mile-long flow. It starts on Blue Cypress Lake in Indian River County and goes all the way into the Atlantic Ocean. The brackish environment of the St. Johns is home to trophy Largemouth Bass, Striped Bass, and Hybrids. 

While you’re fishing for Bass in the St. Johns River, check out its Bass fishing lakes, such as Lake George and Lake Poinsett. Lake George is an incredible place for Bass fishing and is actually the second largest lake in Florida (after Lake Okeechobee.)

Central Florida

It’s hard to pick the best Bass fishing lake or river in Central Florida, but we’ve tried to narrow it down to a couple of top spots. If you’re planning a trip to Orlando, you can check out the Butter Chain of Lakes or drive a bit south (minutes from Disney World) to the famous Lake Tohopekaliga, or Lake Toho for short. Lake Toho offers year-long Bass fishing and hosts multiple tournaments, such as Bassmasters, FLW, and MLF. 

Aerial view of Lake Kissimmee lake front

Just about 40 miles south from Orlando, you will find Lake Kissimmee. It is part of the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes and is a great place to look for your next trophy Largemouth Bass. 

Another top Bass fishery in Central Florida is the Harris Chain of Lakes in Lake County. The chain comprises the Apopka, Griffin, Harris, Dora, Yale, Eustis, Carlton, and Beauclair lakes. This is a true angler’s paradise with fertile and crystal clear waters with excellent Bass fishing opportunities. 

South Central Florida

As you head further south, it’s hard to miss Lake Okeechobee, the largest freshwater lake in Florida. If you have ever heard of Bass fishing (who hasn’t?), then you surely know that Lake Okeechobee is one of the best places in the world to fish for Bass. You can enjoy your Bass fishing trip from Okeechobee City, Belle Glade, and Clewiston. 

Great Blue Heron looking over Okeechobee Lake

Stick Marsh, which is also known as Farm 13, is another great place for Bass fishing. This unique 6,500-acre body of water is situated in northwest Indian River County, along the east coast of Central Florida. If you want to explore the waters of Stick Marsh, make sure you do so with a local guide, because of the underwater stumps, submerged and floating timber, and sometimes challenging fishing conditions. 

Finally, there’s Lake Istokpoga, a designated Fish Management Area and a top Bass fishery. What brings people to Lake Istokpoga? The chances to get multiple bites in a single trip, of course! You can catch Bass throughout the year, although January through April is the best time for trophy Largemouth. 

South Florida

Some say that Bass fishing in South Florida is exotic. Well, they’re not wrong!

First of all, there’s Naples with two incredible Bass fisheries. One of them is the Golden Gate Canal System that holds Largemouth and Peacock Bass. The second Naples Bass fishery is the Everglades, which begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River and ends in Lake Okeechobee. 

Airboat tour in Everglades National Park, Miami

You can explore even more Everglades Bass fishing out of Fort Lauderdale on Florida’s southeastern coast. It’s a truly unique experience that you can combine with sightseeing and enjoying the beautiful nature, with birds above you and alligators below. 

Finally, there’s Miami with its stunning beaches, nightlife, and, naturally, Bass fishing. You get that urban feel while fishing, which is pretty exotic! The Miami International Airport Lakes and the Falls Canal System are the go-to places for trophy Peacock Bass. 

Do I need a license to fish for Bass in Florida?

The short answer is “Yes.” Before you head out to the water, make sure to purchase a valid freshwater fishing license. You can do it online, by phone, at a tax collector’s office or a license agent. For more information about Florida fishing licenses, check out our detailed guide

Can I keep my catch?

Largemouth Bass are the most popular catches from this group, and it’s legal to keep 5* with no minimum length limit. However, the value of Largemouth Bass has inspired most anglers to practice catch and release. 

*You can keep 5 Black Basses, including Largemouth and 4 other types, individually or in total.

Bass Fishing is a Unique Floridian Experience

Bass fishing in Florida is so popular it can be its own religion. We can’t highlight it enough. It has its own large community, and there’s even special Florida Bass jargon. For instance, a really big Bass would be called a Lunker, Pig, Hawg, Toad, or even Hogzilla and Big Momma.

Happy angler in Florida with his freshly-caught Bass

Bass fishing in Florida is great for anglers of all levels and ages. They are very common and fun to fish for thanks to their aggressiveness and fighting skills. While the numbers speak for themselves, the best way to really understand why Florida Bass fishing is so popular is to head out and catch a few yourself!

Have you already fished for Bass in Florida? What’s your favorite honey hole? Let us know in the comments below!

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