There’s no denying Florida has some of the best trophy bass fishing in the world. With the right combination of genetics, habitat and a long growing season, odds are pretty good for anglers in search of a bucketmouth weighing into the teens.
February and March are the heart of the spawning season for largemouth bass across much of the state, which means the big girls will be up shallow. Go now, and you could be one of the lucky anglers documenting a Hall of Fame bass with FWC’s TrophyCatch program.
TrophyCatch recognizes anglers who catch, document and release largemouth bass 8 pounds and heavier. The program recently concluded its eighth season, in which 22 Hall of Fame bass heavier than 13 pounds were caught, weighed, photographed and released back to Florida waters. That’s a strong testament to the quality of fisheries.
Rodman Reservoir, on the Ocklawaha River in north-central Florida, was the top-producing waterbody during TrophyCatch Season 8. With 157 approved trophy bass heavier than 8 pounds, chances of hooking into a trophy at this 13,000-acre impoundment are very good. Headed into the spawn, fishing reports from the reservoir were strong. Anglers are looking forward to the warming trends of mid-February for the fishing to really bust loose.
Fellsmere Reservoir, also known as Headwaters Lake or Lake Egan, was the second top-producing waterbody for Season 8, with 56 bass heavier than 8 pounds approved by TrophyCatch. Fellsmere is a 10,000-acre man-made lake in Indian River County that was intentionally developed for bass fishing. In August of last year, Headwaters Boat Ramp was opened at Fellsmere, providing better access to an excellent bass fishery.
Hillsborough County was a sleeper that came on strong this past season. Anglers fishing Tampa-area waters hauled in seven of the states 22 bass heavier than 13 pounds. Prior to this season, the county had only contributed one other Hall of Fame fish.
Gainesville-area anglers will also be happy to hear that Marion County’s Orange Lake is peaking in terms of trophy fish. Following a drawdown in 2011, which allowed for habitat enhancement, Orange Lake is fishing very well. Three of the state’s Hall of Fame fish were caught at Orange Lake during Season 8.
Of course, all this data comes from anglers who actually participate in the TrophyCatch program. There’s no telling where the next honey-hole will arise when more bass anglers catch, photograph, release and submit big bass to the program. Each year TrophyCatch rewards participating anglers with prizes, but the biggest reward for everyone is the information gathered and used in management decisions.
Right now is prime time to catch huge Florida bass. Get out there, and get involved.
For more information, visit www.trophycatchflorida.com.