Many believe that Florida's largemouth bass is a distinct species; others think it merely a subspecies. But the debate is academic. No one disputes that Florida's fish grow bigger and fatter than any other species of bass. One reason is a year-round growing season; warm water and ample vegetation make for big bass.
With more than 7,700 named lakes, Florida has no shortage of places to catch the legendary bucketmouth. Here are five great lakes to consider now that we are approaching the peak fishing months of spring.
Located just south of Orlando in Kissimmee, Lake Tohopekaliga, or Lake Toho for short, is a frequent stop on the professional bass fishing tours. In 2001, this lake made international news when angler Dean Rojas set a Bass Anglers Sportsman Society record by weighing and releasing 108 pounds of bass in during a tournament. During the four days of fishing, anglers caught and released 21 bass that weighed 10 pounds or more.
Lake Kissimmee, another Central Florida hotspot with a worldwide reputation, is largest section of five distinct bodies of water on the legendary Kissimmee River. Lake Kissimmee covers 35,000 acres, so an angler can spend decades fishing this lake and never see the whole thing. The catch rate (fish per hour) is usually better here than most Florida lakes. Large stands of vegetation make Kissimmee a favorite lake for "flippin'" plastic worms.
Lake Istokpoga, a large, yet relatively shallow lake just outside of Lake Placid, is another "big number" bass lake in the Kissimmee Chain. Several years ago, a late-spring fishing trip to Istokpoga went down in my personal record book after every cast seemed to result in a strike. The lake has two large islands - Big Island and Bumblebee - which make this a particularly scenic and productive spot.
Stick Marsh, 16,500 acres of flooded farmland near Fellsmere in southeast Florida, has thousands of submerged tree stumps and ample vegetation, which give fish plenty of places to hide. So this makes "the hunt" all the more enjoyable for bass aficionados. The Stick Marsh/Farm 13 complex regularly makes the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's "Top 10 Florida Lakes" list. Stick Marsh is strictly catch-and-release, another reason the fishing is so good
A small yet popular lake east of Lake Wales, Lake Weohyakapka, also known as "Lake Walk-In-Water," covers just 7,500 acres but has a reputation for producing amazing catches. It is not unheard of for an angler to catch 25 fish in one day.