For those who love to wet a line and experience the reward of a solid strike, there are few places in the world that can offer the type of angling you’ll find in the Sunshine State. It doesn’t make much difference whether your post-trip goal is a tasty fish fry, or a picture of you conquering a glamorous trophy species; you’ll find it all here. And, you may not have to drive very far to experience it. Here are 36 locales where you can find topnotch angling this year.
There are a number of bass lakes in Florida that are hot right now. But, if a 10-pounder is your goal this month, Rodman is the hottest.
Bass begin spawning this month on the Orange Springs flats. Early in the month you find them staging on the main river and creek channel edges adjacent to the flats. As the month progresses, look for them to move to the flats.
Weedless soft plastic jerks baits, or subtle topwater plugs are good bets early in the day. When the sun comes up, sight fish bedding bass with weedless soft plastic worms or craws. If the beds are there but the sows aren’t, flip any surface matted cover in the area with a weedless craw.
Speckled perch are fired up in Santa Fe Lake. Start your search in 21 to 23 feet of water, and stagger baits at different depths until you find the how deep the specs are feeding.
Tarpon are feeding in Government Cut in the Biscayne Bay at Miami. Large live shrimp are the top baits.
This is normally the peak of the bass spawn on Toho, and as recent major tournaments have revealed, there are plenty of big bass available.
Start your search along the inside edge of the major hydrilla beds in 2 to 4 feet of water. A quick moving weedless bait, like the Zoom Horny Toad, is excellent for covering water in a hurry to find fish. Another option is the inside edge of major maidencane beds, especially those that have arrowhead plants nearby. Bass love to bed next to this plant.
Once a concentration is found, shift to weedless soft plastics and probe any hole in the hydrilla, or arrowhead clusters.
Sheepshead are flocking into Tampa Bay. Look for them around the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, or any other man-made structure on which barnacles are growing.
There still are sailfish roaming the 120-foot depth line off of Miami, but many are following baitfish schools into depths as shallow as 50 feet. Let the birds tell you where the sails are.
Bass are spawning heavily in the massive eelgrass beds ringing Lake George. Key areas to check are Salt Cove, the Jetties, Hogg and Drayton islands, and the east shore from Pine Island to the north.
A tip off that bass are spawning in any of these areas is freshly chopped, bright green eelgrass, floating on the surface. Bass uproot this when they fan a bed, and many of the fish bed toward the inside edge of the grass bed.
When the sun is up, sight fishing bedding bass is effective. Early in the day, or under heavy overcast, a 1/4-ounce tandem blade spinnerbait, Horny Toad, or swimming weedless worm worked through the grass can score limits.
Striped bass approaching 20-pounds concentrate in the area of the Lake Talquin dam. Casting a 4-inch white curly-tail grub on a 1/4-ounce jighead is the preferred tactic.
The inside edge of the hydrilla beds produce a lot of bass on Orange Lake this month for anglers casting spinnerbaits, surface-running toad lures, and countdown crankbaits.
Some of the biggest spotted seatrout in Florida are caught this month in the St. Johns River within five miles of the Mayport Inlet.
Savvy anglers look for the top end of the incoming tide in areas where a shallow shoreline shelf of Spartina grass ends in an abrupt drop to seven or more feet of water. When combined with moving current and the presence of baitfish, it’s a gator trout buffet. But, don’t ignore docks on a sharp drop, especially along the Fort Caroline shoreline.
Topwater lures are effective early and late, but hard plastic jerkbaits and 5-inch curly-tails on a lead head jig are often the most effective working over drops.
The Pine Island flats near Port Charlotte see big trout venturing onto them with the incoming tide. Work the white sand holes with soft plastics.
Largemouths in Lake Lochloosa are finishing the spawn and stacked up between the cypress shorelines and the first patches of lily pads or maidencane out from the shoreline.
Take a look at the top spots for Florida Fishing for May, June, July and August on page two