Largemouth bass are feeding heavy on shad, golden shiners and panfish all throughout the Harris Chain of Lakes getting fat and happy for the upcoming spawn. The high-water conditions due to the last two big storms are making normal shallow areas more accessible to boats and the bass. The bass are moving into transition areas close to the mouths of canals, backwater coves with some deeper water nearby. Lilly pad fields have been producing good numbers of bites and are excellent locations to find fish.
Best fishing lures to use are lipless crankbaits, soft plastic flukes and top water walking baits. Remember to always look around when you are fishing to see if schoolies are busting bait on the surface. Fish the outer edges of the pads especially the smaller isolated groups as the bigger females will still back away to eat a larger meal than the smaller highly aggressive males. When they move into the shallows, they eat just about away meal that comes their way. The hydrilla patches and matts in Big Lake Harris found in deeper water also hold groups of bass. Find the hard edges and fish a chatter- bait or 4-to-5-inch swim bait along these edges making long casts. Let the bait sink to the bottom and reel slowly. The fish will let you know if they want it fast or slow, so adjust the speed frequently until you figure them out.
The Crappie started to heat up in the last part of November. The bigger females will be heading shallow where the males are prepping for their annual spawn. Kissimmee grass, lily pads and wood structure are the places to find them using brightly colored jigs tipped with a minnow. Varys the depths of your jigs until you start getting bites. When you get a bite there are more around – slow down and catch dinner! Make sure to visit a sign-up location to register for the 14th Annual Shad & Crappie Derby. You never know, you may catch a monster. FREE to enter! Owen’s Fishing in Eustis, Lake Side Bait & Tackle in Tavares and Nobles Marine in Leesburg are all close to the chain – sign up before you go fishing.