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Largemouth Bass: Florida’s Top Freshwater Gamefish

Largemouth Bass: Florida’s Top Freshwater Gamefish

Florida’s freshwater lakes, rivers and streams are full of lunker sized Largemouth Bass. They can be fished year-round and can be found all throughout the state. These beautiful fish are known by various names: Black bass, Green Bass, Bucket-mouths and Bigmouths. Whether you’re fishing on lakes or rivers, freshwater or brackish, artificial lures or natural bait, you can catch these bass from the north of Florida all the way down south.

How to Distinguish the Subtle Differences of Bass

There are various types of freshwater bass; the Largemouth Bass, however, tends to be confused with the Smallmouth or Spotted Bass. The Largemouth Bass has a strong differentiator: their jaw reaches past the rear part of their eye, hence the name ‘Largemouth’. Generally, Largemouth Bass are a variant of green hues but can be so dark they look almost black. Additionally, they sport a dark stripe down their sides which can look like a thick, interrupted strip that extends from their gills down to their tails.

These bass can be caught at all different sizes. The smaller ones can be as small as 3 – 4 inches and the large bass can be as hefty as 15 pounds, but the average weight for a freshwater bass is between 8-10 lbs.

Fishing Seasons

In Florida, Largemouth Bass can be fished year-round if you look hard enough. These bass can be found in brackish or freshwater bodies, from lakes to rivers, all over Florida. Even though they can be fished for year-round, there are still months where bass can be found easier and in larger quantities. Depending on where you are located, the peaks of bass fishing changes from month to month. The quality of fishing changes from ‘Some’ to ‘Good’ to ‘Excellent’.

South:

Good – January, June, July, August

Excellent – February, March, April, May, September, October, November, December

Southwest:

Some – January, July, September, November, December

Good – June, August, October

Excellent – February, March, April, May

Northeast:

Some – January, July, August, November, December

Good – February, June, September, October

Excellent – March, April, May

North Central:

Some – January, July, August, November, December

Good – February, June, September, October

Excellent – March, April, May

Northwest:

Some – January, July, August, November, December

Good – February, June, September, October

Excellent – March, April, May

Tools & Tips to Catch Your Largemouth Bass

Fishing for bass in open water versus near cover are two totally different tactics. When fishing near cover, it is best to use a hefty bait-casting outfit with 15-30-pound test line. While trolling in open water, you can simply use lighter tackle with great success. You will likely find most bass near some type of cover so that’s where you should look first.

No matter the season or water temperature, all sizes of Bigmouths love the shade. Try hitting up the docks, grass and pads before taking your shot at the open water. If you do hit up the open water, you will be likely to catch the younger, more active fish that tend to school while they have fun chasing the smaller fish in the pond.

Golden shiner, large earthworms, bream and shad are amongst the top natural baits to use to catch some freshwater bass. Other tackle that would work to hook a bass are spinner baits, weed-less spoons and worms and top-water plugs. While in open water, swimming plugs will work for a nice chase. If you are interested in trying fly fishing to catch your share, you can use long and snaky streamer flies or large pop-able bugs.

Game-fish Quality

This particular fish is the most popular game fish in Florida’s freshwater regions. With the bass’ explosive strike power and aggressive attitude toward long and snaky lures, they are prime sport-fish. Bigmouths are likely to make a powerful strike at just about any live bait or artificial lures. They will make you work for it; their aggressiveness against the hook puts up a perfect fight for any sport-fisherman out there.

In fact, the demand for sport-fishing for Largemouths has prompted a catch-and-release movement. We urge you to throw the big ones back so they can reproduce during mating season. We promote responsible fishing!

How Should I Cook up My Catch

We will be honest, we know catching the largest fish is the coolest and most fun, but in the case of Largemouth Bass, if you wish to cook your catch, we suggest you go for the smallest of the group. Hefty Largemouths are coarser and less delicious (not to mention the bigger ones should be put back to breed). The smaller, younger bass have white, flakey meat with low oil content, making them more desirable than the larger, tougher elders.

When you catch your small bass, cooking it isn’t much different than any other white fish. You can fry them, bake them, grill them and even stew them. We happen to know this wonderful Pecan Crusted Grilled Bass recipe. It’s quick, simple, and easy and pairs well with some roasted rosemary potatoes.

 

Happy Boating (and Eating)!!

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