April 17, 2019
This time in Central Florida, is a special time of year for the Largemouth Bass. The water temperatures are just right, the days are at their longest, and it’s making all the Bass friskier than ever. Yes, that’s right. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the start of the spawn here on Orlando’s Lake Toho. While northern Bass are still hunkering down for the winter, Florida Bass are getting it on. And as a Bass angler it’s time to take advantage of nature’s most wonderful event.
While the spawn down in South Florida and Lake Okeechobee is already underway, Central Florida’s Bass (being a little farther north) are later to the party. But they are ready for the party now. The big girls have been spending the last couple of months fattening up so they look nice and pretty for the male Bass (and of course for us anglers). They are filling up with eggs and are grouping up in pre-spawn staging areas.
Where do you find these pre-spawn areas? Well, first you have to find the flats where the Bass are going to spawn. Bass need something hard for their eggs to stick to in order to spawn. A hard clean bottom in 4 feet or less is typically what you are looking for when you are trying to find where they are going to spawn. However there are exceptions to the rule that are lesser known. Such as Spatterdock lily pads. While usually Spatter dock pads grow in areas with a crappy mucky bottom, the roots of these pads are like logs and they stick up out of the bottom. Bass will actually spawn on these roots and these can be key to finding secret little areas of big spawning Florida Bass that most people don’t know about.
When you have found an open area with a hard clean bottom in shallower water, then you have found an area where the Largemouth Bass are going to spawn! Florida’s lakes are extremely grassy and Florida’s Bass love it. Which makes it easier for us to find these fish. They are going to be either in, or on the outside edge of the grass or lily pads that are just outside of these spawning flats.
When the Bass spawn a male and a female will pair up. The female will then make the bed where she feels best (of course she’s the boss). The female will brush out a small round bowl on the bottom. These can be seen as a lighter patch or even sometimes a darker patch on the bottom. Once that’s done the female will then drop her eggs and leave while the male Bass will stay and guard the eggs for a few days until they hatch. Once they hatch the male will then follow around and guard the Bass fry for a few weeks before ditching them to go binge on some shad and shiners with his buddies.
There are two ways to catch Largemouth Bass at this time of year. You can either go after pre-spawn Bass hanging just outside or out deeper from the spawning areas, or you can go after the spawning Bass directly. I tend to prefer going after the pre-spawn Bass. They tend to be much more consistent about biting while sometimes it can be tough to find and catch spawning Bass depending on the weather. I also just don’t like to mess the Bass’ spawn… but some days I just can’t help it.
The best thing to use for catching pre-spawners/post-spawners outside of the spawning flats are always live golden wild shiners. They are always the best for getting the most out of your day and are what most of the 10 pound plus sized fish are caught on out of the lake. They are what we recommend using especially if you’re a little less experienced fisherman, and with the gear that we use anyone can catch them. We’ve had 4-year-old’s hoist in 5 pound plus size Bass! But if all you want to do is artificial – the best lures tend to be worms, chatterbaits, and jerkbaits. A worm or chatterbait pulled slowly across an outside grass-line can be money. But the jerkbait most days is the king of all. The great thing about a jerkbait at this time of year is that they catch everything in the water! Big Bass, small Bass, and even Crappie! They are the main bait that we’ve been using for our artificial trips. Catching over 20 a day up to 6-7 pounds is not uncommon on our artificial trips.
Now if you find one of these spawning area’s right now, it’s usually game on. Our guides are catching around 20 a day with some days over 30 right now on our fishing charters. With the average size being over 3 pounds! We’re coming into the best time of year for Largemouth Bass fishing in Florida, and with the way things are setting up, it’s looking like it might be a special peak season! If you’ve never experienced Orlando’s Lake Toho then you’ve been missing out. It’s the top trophy bass lake in the state and it’s only minutes from Disney.
Guest Blog Author: Captain “AJ” Arthur Jackson
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