By Bob Wattendorf, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Saturday January 31st, 2009

If you are like me, you’ve probably heard, “You should have been here yesterday; the fishing was great,” more times than you can count. And if like me, you’re tired of that phrase, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has come to the rescue.

FWC biologists continue to give anglers the best advice on the location of some of the sweetest honey holes to cast a line in Florida. That means you might be the next one bragging about a whopper of a day spent fishing.

Fisheries biologists used a variety of clues, including the recent fishing history of various lakes and rivers based on creel surveys, Big Catch angler-recognition records and electrofishing results. They also evaluated habitat conditions, water flow and young-of-the-year survival from the previous year to suggest the top destinations for 2009. Lists of the best places to go for bass, crappie, bream, catfish and stripers are posted at MyFWC.com/Fishing/Forecast. In addition, regional biologists check with local fishing guides and bait-and-tackle shops quarterly (January, April, July, October) to get insights into how major fisheries are producing and what anglers are using successfully on a variety of lakes and rivers throughout the year. The same Web site will give you access to that information, along with local contact numbers for up-to-minute updates.

Here’s a brief overview of the sites FWC biologists are recommending to the angling public for 2009, but remember at any day the bite can be on in a different time and place – from a small community pond to 470,000-acre Lake Okeechobee. With over 7,700 named lakes in Florida and 12,000 miles of fishable rivers, streams and canals, you’re never far from an opportunity to relax and wet a line – time that is always well spent communing with nature.

Site
Size and Counties
Featured species
Apalachicola River/Lake Seminole
106 miles, 37,500 acres; Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty
striped bass, channel, flathead and blue catfish

Blackwater/Yellow rivers
58 miles; Okaloosa, Santa Rosa
striped bass

Choctawhatchee River
96 miles; Bay, Holmes, Walton, Washington
striped bass, bream, channel and flathead catfish

Clermont Chain of Lakes
11 lakes totaling 8,692 acres, Lake
channel and white catfish

Crescent Lake
15,960 acres; Flagler, Putnam
crappie

Deer Point Lake
5,000 acres, Bay
bass

Eagle Lake
541 acres, Polk
sunshine bass

Escambia River
231 miles, Escambia
striped bass, channel, flathead and blue catfish

Everglades conservation areas 2 and 3
210 square miles; Broward, Dade, Palm Beach
bass

Haines (Haynes) Creek
6 miles, Lake
channel and white catfish, bullheads

Lake George
46,000 acres; Putnam, Volusia
bass

Lake Harris
13,800 acres, Lake
bream

Lake Istokpoga
28,000 acres, Highlands
bass, crappie, bream

Lake Kissimmee
35,000 acres, Osceola
bass, crappie, bream, channel and white catfish, bullheads

Lake Marian
5,700 acres, Osceola
crappie, bream

Lake Marion
2,990 acres, Polk
crappie

Lake Monroe
9,400 acres; Seminole, Volusia
bass

Ochlockonee River
300 miles; Franklin, Gadsden, Leon, Liberty, Wakulla
channel, flathead and white catfish, bullheads

Orange Lake/Lochloosa Lake
12,550/5,700 acres, Alachua
crappie, bream

Lake Osborne/Ida Chain of Lakes
356 acres, Palm Beach
sunshine bass

Lake Panasoffkee
4,460 acres, Sumter
bream

Lake Talquin
8,800 acres; Gadsden, Leon
striped bass, crappie, bream

Lake Trafford
1,500 acres, Collier
crappie

Lake Tarpon
2-500 acres, Pinellas
bass

Lake Weir
5,685 acres, Marion
crappie

Lake Weohyakapka
7,500 acres, Polk
bass

Mosaic Fish Management Area
1,000 acres, Polk
bass, bream

Rodman Reservoir
9,500 acres, Putnam
bass

St. Johns River
310 miles; Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Volusia
striped bass, channel and white catfish, bullheads

St. Mary’s/Nassau River
90 miles; Baker, Nassau
striped bass

Suwannee River
213 miles, Suwannee
bass, bream

Tenoroc Fish Management Area
7,300 acres, Polk
bass, crappie, bream

West Lake Tohopekaliga
18,810 acres, Osceola
bass, crappie, bream

Grab a friend or relative and try out one of these sites, or investigate a local water hole to create your own list of top fishing destinations. Then pass it on to whoever will listen and let them know the fishing was great – yesterday. Always remember: A bad day fishing beats a great day at work.

BassOnline.com is Florida Fishing largest Freshwater Guide Service, specializing in Florida bass fishing in the Florida lakes, canals and rivers for largemouth and peacock bass.
To learn more about Florida bass fishing, visit Bass Fishing Blog

Till next time tight lines and good fishing….

From Staff Writer Capt Todd Kersey Bass Fishing Florida / 888-829-BASS