Florida bass fishing is on fire
Fish Busters' Bulletin
Thursday, March 03, 2011
Media contact: Bob Wattendorf
The prespawn period for Florida largemouth bass can
produce some of the most exciting fishing of the year, and 2011 has
certainly started out exciting. Since bass tune into environmental
triggers such as day length, lunar cycle and especially, water
temperature, timing of the actual spawn can vary. Generally, once
water temperatures rise above 58 degrees, the bedding process
begins and may continue until temperatures are in the mid- to
A couple of days before full or new moons in late
February, March or early April are often premier spawning times for
Florida bass. Remember, triggering water temperatures vary
significantly based on depth, sun exposure and currents.
Individual anglers, guides and tournaments
statewide are reporting incredible catches. Check these
Lake Tohopekaliga ("Toho") -
Gerald Swindle of Warrior, Ala., caught 80 pounds, 13 ounces of
bass during a three-day tournament. To accomplish that, he averaged
over 5 pounds per bass in his five-fish bag limits each day, coming
close to the all-time record of 85 pounds.
Lake Kissimmee - Tom Rewis of
Orange City and Doug Chance of Deleon Springs combined for a
five-bass stringer that topped 40 pounds - a mark considered
hallowed ground - to win the Capt. Tony Strickland Memorial Bass
Tournament out of Camp Mack in February. That is more than an
average of 8 pounds per bass, with their largest being 10.71
pounds. The team of Dustin Bozeman of Lakeland and Chris Maxwell of
Winter Haven had the big fish with a 10.76-pounder.
That is not all. Zack Mack from Murfreesboro,
Tenn., hooked, fought, landed, weighed and released a 14-pound,
2-ounce Florida largemouth bass on Lake Kissimmee, close to the
river's mouth, on Feb 2. Mack has witnesses and pictures.
Lake Toho - Mark Detweiler, who
operates a marina there, recently reported consistent 24- to
26-pound stringers of fish just about every weekend.
Tim Coughlin, an FWC biologist involved in habitat
restoration and enhancement in the Kissimmee chain, noted that some
of the agency's earliest and most persistent efforts took place on
these lakes, from drawdowns and tussock removal to transplanting
native vegetation and scraping spawning areas. Chemical treatments
are routinely necessary to maintain plants at desirable
densities so they provide areas for fish to feed and spawn.
It is immensely satisfying when you see efforts
like this pay off for anglers and the local business community.
Lake Okeechobee - Brandon McMillan
of Belle Glade won the FLW-Outdoors Tournament and set a tour
record in February with a 106-pound, 10-ounce, four-day winning
weight. Lake Okeechobee is coming back, after the FWC came to its
aid with special regulations, habitat improvement projects and even
a restocking effort, according to FWC biologist Don Fox, who has
spent nearly 30 years working on the lake.
Rodman Reservoir - Fishing guide
Sean Rush of Ocala reported, "Rodman may be the hottest trophy
bass lake anywhere right now!" He recently documented a
one-day trip for two clients who caught and released 50 bass,
including one over 12 pounds.
Orange Lake - The FWC modified the
existing slot limit here to promote future supplies of trophy bass,
by allowing harvest of just one bass per angler, per day, if longer
than 24 inches. However, anglers who return their catches to the
water can still record them for posterity. The FWC encourages bass
anglers to apply for a "Big Catch" recognition certificate (MyFWC.com/Fishing) for any
bass longer than 24 inches or over 8 pounds caught in Florida.
Coupons and the opportunity to win a fishing trip with Shaw
Grigsby, tournament angler and host of "One More Cast," encourage
anglers to document trophy bass caught in Orange Lake (http://orangelake.myfwc.com).
The water level on Orange Lake is low,
concentrating bass but making fishing patterns challenging. To help
increase your success, check with locals, review FWC quarterly
fishing forecasts (MyFWC.com/Fishing) or
listen to the Wildlife Foundation of Florida's audio updates (www.WildlifeFlorida.org).
The FWC has always considered largemouth bass a
premier draw for local anglers and tourists and worked to ensure
safe and sustainable quality bass fishing opportunities. This past
year, however, we redoubled our efforts to reach out to the public,
to work with stakeholders involved in the fishing industry, and to
review all aspects of our bass fishery management efforts. The
result is an evolving Long-Term Black Bass Management Plan for
Florida (MyFWC.com/Fishing) to make
Florida the undisputed bass fishing capital of the world.
If fishing success stories like those reported here
continue to pile up, we are well on our way.