- The smaller fish have better taste and texture
- These larger fish, over 4 pounds are usually your female breeding stock
- The big fish are a draw, they attract people to the sport which makes the fishery more attractive to the state, and in turn they will allocate more study and money to the fishery.
- Bass growth rates vary considerably, but it takes years to reach lunker proportions
- Programs like Trophy catch Florida: a bass over 8 pounds will get you a gift card at Bass Pro Shops. You have to release the fish alive, but first take a pic on the scale, showing the scale, below the tail so they know you are not pulling down on it, a pic of the length and of the girth.
Near the heart of Down town Orlando you will find several bodies of water that have shorelines accessible to fishermen. It has been years since I cast these waters, even though I pass them everyday to and from work. My brother wanted to fish Lake Highland, and even though as a kid I had known success on the shores of Ivanhoe, Adair and some of the other local lakes, I really never fished Highland.
My brother brought along an outfit with braid and pulled a fish through the reeds right away. I tried some of the pads further down but broke off on twelve pound mono. In the open areas, between the trees, there was enough room to cast a crank, but this lake has a healthy population of eel grass, which put a stop to that idea right away.
So I moved to the open water, where I could see a lot of schooling bait fish. I decided to go with a spinning set up and throw a stick for distance. As I looked through my worm bag, I realized I was running out of choices. Man I can go through some worms, but wait, there is still a bag with some Big Bite Baits in Kiwi. I rigged one on without weight and Texas rigged it to deal with the weeds. The water is really clear in here, and there is a lot of beautiful underwater vegetation. This is definitely a good lake to throw watermelon and green pumpkin based baits.
I met some really nice people out there, who shared the same passion for fishing, and were very willing to give me pointers on the area lakes. There was also a very beautiful older couple, who were fishing for their supper at the other end of the lake. We talked about some of their catches and he told me 3 to 5 pounders are not uncommon, but his wife had recently taken a 7.5 pounder out of there. As we talked, I hooked up and asked her if she wanted the fish, which she was happy to take, but this led to a discussion on why I throw the big ones back. She seemed rather excited about the Trophy Catch florida program, and hopefully more people will look into the advantages of returning these breeders to the water. This lake, like the lake behind us, is heavily fished with shiners, and by people who utilize the big bass to fill their freezers. I am proud to know people who feed their family through fishing, so this is not meant to be judgmental in any way, but I think if you take the time and look at the fishery that you enjoy, you will find it more prudent to throw the big ones back:
Well, six fish, nothing to submit for Trophy Catch, but a lot of fun and since these lakes are accessible and on my way home, I think I will start hitting them on the way back from work. This will mix it up a bit, so I think I will give Ivanhoe a shot next, and I remember some pretty big bass hanging out there when I was young.
I wanted to throw a crank bait, so I took my Abu Veritas 2.0 winch and an Academy Sports H2O in Blue Gill, and headed out to the lake behind the house. By the time I got to the main lake it started pouring, and so since the wind was blowing pretty good and I could see an outline of clear skies, I decided to wait for it to pass.
This lure has produced numbers for me here and so I bought it in 2 sizes. I love square bills and medium divers on this rod; it loads up well and cast far. While I catch a lot of bass on this in Destiny, it does not take fish in Crane's Roost. Visually, the Roost looks more like a crank bait lake, and there are thousands of Blue gill in there in every size, but it is lined by rocks, has deep water, areas with 45 degree slopes, gizzard shad, shiners, Tilapia and the same pelagic minnows that are in my lake. I have not been able to get anything close to a stellar crank bait bite day, and we have only managed a handful on smaller cranks. At Destiny I have had a fight with my biggest crank bait bass, days when I have taken 8 smalls inside and hour, and most off points or casting to the weed line. I lost the smaller square bill, pictured above, last night at the Roost, but saw a very large bass chase one of the minnows into the rocks. My brother reached down and scooped it out of the water. Now I finally know what they look like, and when the bass are feeding on these, you can see why a noisy square bill might not be the answer. I even tried one of my small mirrolures in a slim, suspending, lipless, and I have caught many red fish, trout, blues, jacks and even flounder on this bait, but after a 100 cast or so, I gave up in here.
Well at least I have a picture to work off of now and if anyone has any recommendations, I'm all ears. As far as hard baits I am leaning toward the more silent style with less wobble, and I like the slimmer bodies of the hard jerk baits, but I would change out the back hook for a feathered one. The pic doesn't quite do justice to how much orange was in the tail. It is called an Inland Silverside and I remember seeing these in brackish water. I think they are significant in this lake because of how prevalent they are.
I found this Tilapia all dried out in the rocks; he was quite camouflaged. We didn't manage any fish out of the shallow, open water coves where they were feeding on silvers, but I caught one in the pads on a Stank X, Yankee Gill, which he destroyed, but I noticed the roof of his mouth was pretty red, so I switched out to a Yamamoto in an orange bottom with green top. My brother gave me some of these because he thought they would be cued to this color now from feeding on craw fish. I love the color, but Gary puts so much salt in his baits, that they fall apart quickly in the weeds. The bass did like them but I think I will look for something a little more durable considering the price, but they do catch fish.
I snapped off on yet another monster out here while throwing my last Bluegilla; it is disheartening at times.
Well, no really big girls landed, but several good tussles in the weeds, and I learned a little more tonight.
Its interesting, the things you see when your outside for the purpose of another activity. This Black Racer I found swimming across the canal, so I went over to say hello while he shook his tail at me. I have seen 2 big browns, several banded water snakes, and a water snake that I need to look up the identity of, so far this spring. The racer was the only one I could get a pic of though.
It has been a long time since I took a vacation where I could actually disconnect. The first few days I just rested, then we went to Wekiwa Springs, and I didn't even bring my phone. Yesterday we went to Rock Springs though, and I took some pics of the girls on the run coming out of the head water.
Drew and I had taken a trip to Lake Harris in search of some dark water bass, but all we caught was a sunburn, a pic of these turtles and had an alligator grab my stick bait. The peak bite wasn't till much later and I didn't have the heart to make her stay, so we went for some Greek pizza.
You can rent these tubes at King Tube for 5 dollars for the whole day. I have a Toyota Corolla so the girls had to hold the tubes outside the window, but it is a short distance from Kings to Kelly Park. They found it rather exiting.
A great day for herping too, or it was until I got covered in ticks. I found a black racer, and Lily found this beautiful Broad Head Skink.
I have found a lot of water snakes this Spring, and last night one of them found me. It was right after cutting to retie. I was sitting on the bank, making my knot, when I heard a little movement in the grass. The flashlight I brought was in my mouth so that my hands were free to work, and so when I turned to look at the disturbance it lit upon a large water snake. Don't get me wrong, I look for snakes all the time, but I prefer to see them first, and he was practically in my lap, and in the dark. The first thing that pops in your head is moccasin, but as he startled and turned to retreat, I saw that it was just a big Brown. I did pay more attention to my surroundings after that.
Oh, they opened an Academy Sports in Lake Mary, so me and Drew went to check it out. They carry their own brand of hard baits called H2O xpress that are quite reasonable, and I feel much better about losing these at 3.99 and 2.99 rather than 9.99 to 24.99. This is the Bluegill square bill and it has great casting distance. I also like it because the orange, greens and dark back play off of the many shiners in my lake. I caught 7 bass on it Thursday at Lake Destiny, but they were all small, so I gave a few to my neighbor. Her freezer had been left unplugged while we cleaned up a flood that arose from some clogged pipes. We never plugged it back in so she lost all her fish and meat. I told her I'd get her some more fish, and I think its good to remove a portion of the smaller bass in a lake, but also gar and cats.
I also took one on a Big Bite stick in Kiwi.
Yesterday, after the Springs, I wasn't feeling too well, so I laid down for a bit. When I woke up I remembered that Friday was the highest scoring day for the lunar calendar in the past 2 months. So I got dressed and went to the Roost.
I have to take back what I said about the Stank X baits Bluegilla and night fishing here. It worked awesome at night. I missed two in open water, that's just sad, but I also caught my first two fish on this at 3.94 and 7.20 respectively.
The first fish I thought would weigh 3 and she was closer to 4, but the second one I guesstimated at 6 and she went 7.2. It is nice to have a scale now, but there is no way I can get the Florida Trophy catch shot by myself so I will have to come up with something. I have released 3 fish in here and 2 at the house that looked larger than her, so now I have the scale to find out.
I ended up landing my limit with a very healthy bag.
There were also some 2 pounders roaming around, and I took one of them on a Big Bite craw.
I like this craw, but I had it on a wide gap hook with a shank that was too short to rig it the way I wanted to. I would recommend a worm hook with a longer shank or a Shaky head.
I took a "final" cast on my way out and the guy below destroyed my last Rebel Gill. I will have to get some more of those. Great night.
So you think you're hard? I have witnessed this guy in a fight for two days straight.
From sun up till sun down he defends his territory against another male intruder. The intruders feathers are ruffled and tattered, so he knows he's making progress. This cardinal is the epitome of Angry Bird, and the male he can't stand is a perfect mimic. He antagonizes this guy with perfect mimicry of his every action. "Oh, stop mocking me," my little, red friend says, as he crashes into his reflection time and time again.
I found a few bass beds behind the house, but there is a lot of other commotion in the shallows too. The Tilapia have moved in here to spawn and some of them are quite large. They are also quite aggressive, like most cichlids are, and given the size of some of these fish, I would think they make a huge impact in these spawning areas.
Lily through a cast net for some bait, and caught this pretty red ear. This is definitely bass forage and should be taken into consideration. A beautiful little fish.
The bass beds I found were very spread out, and when you see several beds in close proximity to each other, that is usually going to be Tilapia or Sun fish later in the season. The bass are much more solitary with their nesting preferences, and what looks easy can be a wash if you are not willing to change up your approach.
I took a total of seven fish, mostly off a Big Bite's Lizard, but I had to go back in and grab a spinning outfit to do so. The spinning rod allowed me to fish the lizard weightless, and since I could see the bass then they could also see me, and they were spooky. I love the Biffle O lizards, but they were just a bit too much in the larger size that I have, so I switched to the big bite, a Stank X bluegilla, and I caught one on a craw. With no weight it entered the water making less noise than the frogs that were slapping minnow in the muck. Spawning bass look easy, but its not a guaranteed thing, so when they are shallow like this I recommend some finesse. They smashed lizard with vigor, and I even took two on top by recasting to the same bass and speeding up the retrieve. Others just picked it up in their beds and one turned out to be a Warmouth. Nothing big, but after I'm done with some projects at work tomorrow, I am off for two weeks. Time to check some other places.
The wind picked up nice today so I decided to throw a Bomber out on Lake Destiny, and I got a few, plus noticed a few trailers. Some even opened their mouth at the bait but did not commit.
Well, I went to the Roost with my little brother, and we decided to try some crank baits. He hooked up straight away, and landed this gar. All the fish look well fed in here, bass, gar and blue gill. He switched out to a Rebel Gill stick bait we continued down the pads. Where were all the spawners I was expecting to find in here? Pete got to the end of the pads and was trying to pull the stick through a lily pad crack when it got hammered. He tried to keep the fish down and never got a good set on it, but when she came completely clear of the water, it looked like she had eaten a basket ball for lunch, and then through the lure. The hook point had never exited the worm, yet she held on that long. I hurt for him, but he brushed it off and kept fishing.
There were a lot of dead Tilapia in here Wednesday night, and an otter that stayed with us for 2 hours. Usually he catches something right away and then I fish while he eats. That night he kept raiding the pads, which looked a bit yellow and were pulling up rather easily. There were a lot of Tilapia on beds in the area too. Maybe this was keeping the bass away, or maybe the cold front that I didn't know about. I lost 2 bass on my Rebel gill and then two more on my crank bait. Peter got tired of it and decided to salvage the evening with a little cat fishing. He grabbed a couple of apple snails, cut them up and tossed them to edge of some pads. Instant action, and of course he missed the first one, because that's just how our night was going.
Some nice eating size butter cats, but I don't know if would eat them out of here. There are a lot of signs for reclaimed water, which they use for the sprinklers.
The biggest difference between the Yankee and the Rebel Gill seems to be a little added blue hue in the Rebel. Both have been excellent baits for me.
I wrote Stank X baits back when I first received my order. When I saw the Bluegilla for the first time, I thought he had sent me the wrong thing. It looked sort of Plum/root beer, but I told him I'd give it a try.
He wrote me back and told me to take it into some different light.
I did and this is now something I really like a lot on overcast days. It takes up the UV light well and the bass nail it. Its not the best color for night time fishing, as it seems to disappear, but really excellent during the day especially on over cast or in slight algae bloom. It picks up its surroundings well. I've lost 4 nice fish on it this week, trying to be slick and casting way deep in to cover, but I've also managed to pull a couple out. I will be ordering some more.
The wind picked up today so I decided to throw a Bomber.
Tough week, and feeling more than a little humbled. I found some nice ones in the pads on Lake Destiny, but I may have to go wading to get a better handle on the monsters that seem to hold up on the other side of the reeds. There is this small opening that I cannot resist casting to, but I can't seem to pull the bass out of there.
Ive used these Abu Garcia Verita's 2.0 for a few weeks now, and some of my buddies were asking me about it. I think its safe to say at this point that it is one of the lighter, more sensitive rods in this price range. I am very hard on equipment, as you can see the Lily pads and reeds behind me, but these have held up well. I haven't taken anything big on the crank bait rod yet, but quite a few big girls on the medium fast, and through weeds, I am impressed. I will probably go with these or the new Ike rod when I set up some spinning outfit. The new power finesse spinning reel is really intriguing, since I gave up on fluorocarbon a while back. It is supposed to manage it better, and that is something I would like to see.
Lily missed the chocolate factory, and I can't imagine why. Wow, those look good, and my guidance counsellor really steered me in the wrong direction. Lily says it's not even like working.
And a little time with my girl at ZAZA.
Lily did thing at school called wax museum. This is where the children have to pick someone who was an inventor and talk about their contributions to society. She had to stand there like a statue and every time someone hit the start button on her desk, she would give her presentation on Beulah Louise Henry.
After her presentation, I was tired, but it was Thursday, and as much as I hate to do it I decided to go fishing. I lost yet another big girl in the pads, but managed a few fish anyway. The Biospawn Exosticks have proven to be very good baits. I lost some whoppers on them, but the fish seemed to stay interested and word didn't get out too fast about the new bait in town, so I kept getting hits, and one thing I noticed is that they will hold on to these for a long time. It's a really great action, but the pro model doesn't last very long. The bass tore them up and also threw some off the hook during fights, but I like what ever they like, and they love these.
I rigged them on an EWG after I lost a few hits, and then turned the point out 3degrees, as someone recently recommended to me. The hook eye is exposed and there is a bead between the weight and the hook. This isn't just for clack, I find it helps protect my not too, especially when I'm throwing tungsten.
Fortunately there were a lot of big girls out here tonight, so even though I lost a couple, I still managed to get a few in on Exosticks and Bitter's slings in Green pumpkin red and Okee candy.
I also brought a crank bait rod and a frog rod. My frog rod is an old bass pro 7' 6" that I bought about 8 years ago for snook fishing. It has one of the original Abu Garcia Revo Inshores on it. This is an almost bullet proof reel and has handled big reds, snook and crazy hook sets while frog fishing. The rod seat, on the inshore extreme rod, however is not the most secure. The plastic thread wears out easily and it doesn't match well to to certain reel bases, even though it came as a combo. Well, I got the reel to stay put with a couple of zip ties, and I caught a few small bass on frogs behind the house, but I couldn't get a rise at the Roost.
I think every lake has a top water and a crank bait bite, but some lakes are definitely more conducive to this. I wanted to throw a crank in here, and at this time of year I prefer something that imitates the main forage fish, red craws, red and dark green craws, green and orange craws and blue gill. The water level is way down so I went with a 2 to 4 feet, Strike King in chili. Now that I know there are gizzard shad in here, I think I will be looking for some stuff in that pattern. Whenever they are present I think they become the predominant forage. This is not a lake that I normally throw a crank on, and I have watched guys go around the whole lake with a crank bait, or a frog and catch nothing while I took my limit. When the bass are tight to the Lily pads, a crank bait isn't the best option, and while I love frogs, I would never show up here with a only frogs. I have caught bass on top here, but I think the Boze Sumo is not a good choice in this lake right now. I got the chili craw to work by casting it in an area that has 45 degree sides, and is a place that I don't think bass ever visit except for the purpose of crushing bait. With crank baits I try to fish points, bars and ditches. I like to rip them through weeds or dig them into hard bottom. In some lakes I use the ends of Lily pads, weed humps and steady wind with good success. This is a great time of year for throwing a crank so don't give up, but look for irregularities and bring another rod that allows you to get in to the thicker stuff.
I took Lily the next night and I lost one that I couldn't control in the pads. It was charged up and pulling my rod way down. We lost 2 more, but then our luck started to change. Lily was throwing my last Exo Stick and I was into a bag Okee candy, when we started getting hits on the edge of open water, where it is was much easier to play these fish out.
She couldn't lip this girl with one hand and so I had to stop and pull her out of the water. Incredibly healthy fish. Very proud of Lily for putting in the time with me tonight even through all the missed hits. We both got a little discouraged, but then started finding them again around 10pm. She is exhausted now.
I love the Spring and I will lament yet another monster, but I will be back.
Forty years old and still in awe of the outdoors.