Guide to Largemouth Bass Fishing in Florida

Florida’s largemouth bass put the Sunshine State on the international sport fishing map.

  • Fellsmere in southeast “ Florida’s Stick Marsh",  contains propeller robbing submerged tree stumps. Slow and careful —  It is a 16,500-acre man-made impoundment. Near Vero Beach, most Florida fishing guides are familiar with its waters. “When it comes to big bass, this is as good as it gets. And there are plenty over 10 pounds.”

  • Florida has more than 7,700 named lakes greater than 10 acres, but only a select few make the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Top Ten Bass Lakes list. Stick Marsh previously earned that honor year after year, but other lakes are finding their place on the big, pass map.

  • Florida has an estimated 2 million resident anglers, and another million visitors fish state waters every year. With more than 700 world records to its credit - more than any other state or country - Florida can honestly claim the title of “ Fishing Capital of the World.”

  • But while saltwater fishing has played an important role in the state's economy, it is Florida's largemouth bass and its varieties like the butterfly peacock bass that put the Sunshine State on the international sportfishing map.

  • Anglers know the odds of catching trophy fish - 10 pounds or larger - are as good as it gets in Florida. The term "trophy," however, is a misnomer when it comes to Florida bass, because the vast majority of anglers would rather take a picture than take a fish. Crispino, who makes his living on the water, is no exception. Many lakes are strictly catch and release, which is another reason why the fishing is so good.

  • Top Spots for Black Bass: Lake George, West Lake Tohopekaliga (Lake Toho), Lake Kissimmee, Rodman Reservoir, Lake Tarpon, Evers Reservoir, Lake Istokpoga, Winter Haven South Chain of Lakes, Lake Talquin, Suwannee River, Lake Okeechobee, Everglades Water Conservation Areas 2 and 3, Lake Monroe, Tenoroc Fish Management Area Lakes and Mosaic Fish Management Area.


  • Depending on whom you ask, Florida largemouth bass could be a distinct species, different from its northern cousin, or merely a subspecies. But the debate is academic. No one disputes the fact that the Florida "bucketmouth" grow bigger and fatter than any other species of bass.

  • "You can credit that to our year-round growing season," says Wes Porak, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "We have warm water and plenty of vegetation. Put those together and you have big bass.”

  • Black bass, Micropterus Salmoides Floridanus were once found only on the Florida peninsula but have since been introduced in Texas and California.  A fish 10 pounds or larger is considered a "trophy." Females live longer than males and are more likely to reach "trophy" size. Most conservation-minded anglers release large fish because of their future spawning potential.

  • The largest (certified) largemouth bass in Florida was caught in 1986 in Polk County (in Central Florida) and weighed 17 pounds, 4 ounces.


The Florida largemouth bass has a reputation as a "tackle buster." Florida’s fabled “ Bucketmouth” will attack just about anything- minnows, frogs, even baby ducks.    Bait Casting and Spinning tackle are more suited for this kind of chaos, screaming and yelling common with Bass Fishermen. 

If you are planning a trip, spring is the best time to hunt a trophy bass. The season starts earlier in South Florida. February through April are peak months in Central Florida. As summer approaches, the fishing improves in North Florida.

While professional bass anglers use artificial lures on the tournament trail, the bait of choice for most anglers is either the golden shiner or the wild shiner, a thick-bodied baitfish found in most Florida lakes. When it comes to artificial lures, the plastic worm is probably the most widely used bait. 

The color is a matter of choice, but a general rule is the darker the better. Crank baits and spinner baits are other popular choices, but when it comes to heart-pounding action, nothing beats the sight of a big bass banging a topwater plug.

Fly-fishing for these Bass is slightly different and we will go into it, but they are more take-able with bait and spinning rigs.  
It is all technique….  

🐟  Edward Medard Reservoir —  In addition to the saltwater Tampa Bay fishing hot spots mentioned, don't forget that there are freshwater hot spots in the Tampa Bay area as well. Don't pass up the chance to fish the Edward Medard Reservoir in Hillsborough County for largemouth bass and sunshine bass. Since the reservoir is a reclaimed phosphate mine, the bottom contours of the lake are irregular, with some areas reaching depths close to 33 feet. The depth changes and bottom irregularities make this one of the best spots to try freshwater fishing in Florida.

🐟  Lake Tarpon  —  If you want to know where to fish for trophy bass in the Tampa Bay area, consider Lake Tarpon. As far as good fishing spots in Tampa Bay for freshwater anglers, Lake Tarpon always ranks. In fact, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologists rate the lake as one of the top 10 bass lakes in the state of Florida. Try fishing the points and offshore structure on Lake Tarpon during the warmest periods of the day throughout the summer months.

Since you now know about a few saltwater and freshwater Tampa Bay hot spots, be sure you have the right gear and tackle for the location and species you plan to target.

🐟   Bass Essentials  Well that means if you are over the top kind of bass tournament person, now you are adding a boat.  An expensive boat… Also you have determined to sponsor one type of fish species, to me,  just too limiting.  I like surprise fishing… you never know what can occur… and I am fortunate to be where i have both fresh and salt water fishing...

Financially a Rig for all those Florida lakes can add up…Boat, Motor, Electronics, Trailer 4WD pickup, sometimes a Guide for Bass Fishing moving into your home, And a big 4WD pickup, Ford or Ram, Four wheeler, for wet ramps when everyone else had the same idea, Black Paint of course, and jacked up with a lift kit for an additional forty thousand dollars,  Cost per pound of bass you release about five hundred and sixty dollars.

  • Boat, Motor, Trailer  — Adding a $28,000 dollar BASS boat Rig with 250 horses screaming across the two miles of water.  If the NAVY added torpedo tubes to some of these Bass boats, we could sink the entire Iranian Fleet
  • Radar, Sonar, Fish Finder, Beer Cooler and Six Rods on the Fore deck — Another 3600 dollars
  • Besides to look good you will need an outfit befitting a Nascar racer with all kinds of emblems, decals, insignia and pins plus manufacturers baseball caps covering your ears to claim one decent fish. You gotta look good for the press when you land that ten pounder and stand there in that 100 degree heat.
  • As hyped up over your catch you will be, you also are about to be challenged to answer the question “ What kind of a lure did you use?”  Like Bass aggregate after you leave and compare notes… and pick the lure of your choice since you spent thousands on these weird painted lures.

SIDEBAR NOTE:  Same moron question I got for years as a journalist for a picture I took and published.  “ What kind of camera did you use? ”.  I used to have a small Kodak compact camera, worked about the size of a kids toy 2x3 inches and it was my key fob.  I showed them that” — 

  • And after realizing you're Nissan or Kia being towed out of the lake because it was only a two wheel drive and slid backwards on the wet ramp, you’ll need a huge black pickup costing forty plus almost fifty thousand dollars.
  • 26–40 thousand dollar extras price tag … plus poor gas mileage, gasoline and maintenance, parking,  etc.   At my age, thats out… I liked my airplane… wife liked it too… under two hours we were in Key West. 
  • And I have been there too… I would think different if I were younger.   Florida is Florida and 98 degrees with enough humidity during the summer to cook your brain, I don’t need.  It gets hot on those lakes.  So I go early spring or calm winter fishing deeper.   Think of yourself as the Shrimp frying in the pan on the stove.  The ocean usually has onshore or offshore breeze and you can drift fish.  Dawn till ten was enough for me
  • Oh I knew I forgot the solution, I drive down for two days and hire a guide I know, we catch a ton of fish, have a great time and can still look in my checkbook and not cry… 

March 4, 2021  —  Suggested Tweet: The @MyFWC celebrates 12 years of out-of-season largemouth #bass spawning at Richloam Hatchery: #Florida #Fishing 

FWC celebrates 12 years of out-of-season largemouth bass spawning  —  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management has successfully spawned Florida largemouth bass out of season for the twelfth year in a row at Richloam Fish Hatchery in Webster. This practice allows biologists to produce twice as many largemouth bass per year than other state’s hatchery systems whose hatcheries produce spawn only once a year. The benefit to the FWC is the efficiency of producing more fish without the added expense of collecting additional broodstock.

Freshwater fisheries biologists collected a total of 41 individual spawns during October 2020 that yielded over 250,000 fry, which were stocked in hatchery ponds to grow. Spawning Florida largemouth bass out of season provides other advantages for fisheries managers because south Florida warms up sooner than central and north Florida. Because south Florida is warmer earlier in the year, spawning fish out of season at Richloam Hatchery provides game fish to this region at a time when the fry’s natural forage is available, thus increasing the chances the fish stocked from the hatchery will survive. The 2020 out-of-season year class will be stocked in Lake Trafford in the spring and in Orlando community fishing ponds in the summer of this year.

For more information about the Division of Freshwater Fisheries Management, contact Laura Rambo Walthall at 850-488-0520 or