- 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.
Forty years old and still in awe of the outdoors.