North Central FL Inland
We’re starting off strong this year forest fishers. I honestly cannot remember the fishing ever being this good. If it’s been a while since you’ve wet a line, then now’s the time to re-spool, get out there, and test the limits of your gear.
For crappie anglers, this is usually the last month to search for schools of these gems. Just think of all the minnows they’ve been gorging themselves on during the winter. There hasn’t been this much bait here in decades. So you know the specs are fatter than ever. Tip: Use bright colored jigs in stained water, and realistic looking patterns or live bait in clear water.
The boom in minnow populations will benefit a lot more than just specs. Everything eats minnows! Another tasty treat forest fish love is frogs, and with all this shallow water continuing to rise; there are plenty to go around. The croaking sound from my neighborhood pond is deafening at sunset. We have swarms of baby frogs, literally everywhere now.
With all this food, and room to spread out, you’d think every bass out here would be super chunky, right? Well, I gave each area a fair shot with trickworms and craws. It didn’t take long before I realized that these bass actually ARE thicker and stronger than ever before. Plus, you can spot bedding areas from far away, because of the shallow/clear areas they’ve chosen to use this year. If you spot beds with no bass on them, you should still make a few casts around that area. Usually they’re very close by, hiding inside the shallow grassy sections; waiting to attack every intruder they see. Any soft-plastic lure, worked properly, will draw strikes. Just make sure it’s rigged weedless and weightless, so you can twitch it through all types of cover. You know you’re about to get slammed when you see the grass start shaking, and a head wake races toward your lure. If it stops right before striking, drop your rod tip and give a couple twitches.
The Bassmaster Elite Series came back to the St. John’s River/Lake George this year. Tournament days were Feb.7th-10th, and the weather was perfect. Loads of huge bass came from all over the map, but the footage of pros sight fishing endless bed fields, in crystal clear water, was amazing. After watching Day 1 LIVE on the Bassmaster website, I had to hook up my boat and check it out in person. I was super stoked, and proud, to see our area in prime form. Everyone watching, around the world, got to see the magic that this place holds. Congradulations to Rick Clunn(age 72), for taking home the first place trophy…again! In 2016, he became the oldest person to win a Pro Tournament. So, he just broke his own record by 3 years, and is once again the reigning “King of the St. John’s”, as well as an absolute legend.
All that’s left to say is, “get out here ASAP”. Every trip I’ve led this year had people in shock of how great their fishing day was, how beautiful the natural scenery and wildlife was, and how sore their cheeks are from smiling. So when you’re ready for an adventure, ready to feel connected, and letting your worries drift away …when all of a sudden the water explodes in front of you…your rod bends over and you feel that strength. Instinct takes over and you’re reacting out of pure joy, excitement, and determination. You’re in the moment.