14th Annual Shad and Crappie Derby – Derby ends February 28, 2023 at sunset. Hurry, there is still time to win! Visit www.coastalanglermag.com/orlando to learn how to register. The awards will be in early March – we will contact winners via email.
Now is the time for huge bass! The spawn is on. Shallow beds during full and new moon phases will produce the biggest bass all year. Catch, photo, and release these large female fish for the reproductive cycle to complete. The largest bass are lazy and will eat larger baits – big wild shiners although expensive are the absolute best bait for a trophy fish. Large wild shiners in pre-spawn areas (not more than 500ft. from the beds), can yield the monster you’re looking for. When throwing artificial, try using baits that mimic predators of fish eggs, namely lizards, shiners, and bream. Lip-less Rattle Trap style crank baits, soft-plastic lizards, and shallow surface lures like a Devil’s Horse work great.
Speckled perch (crappie) are feasting every chance they get during the spawn. Minnows are plentiful in the river system and grass shrimp round out their diet. Jigs tipped with minnows trolled along channel edges is a sure bet. Watch your depth recorder in the river bends while trolling and you will learn to see them before they strike the lures. Crappie spawn in colonies and bunch up – locate them and troll many passes for a bucketful of good eating. Florida crappie limit is 25 per person.
Shad are in full swing; go get them while they last. Small 1.5” tandem shad darts with a trailer spoon trolled against the current at 1.5 to 2.0 mph should get a strike in shad alley – between Mullet Lake Park south all the way to Puzzle Lake. In February, the area near the mouth of the Econlockhatchee River will produce shad – good luck in the Derby!