Bass fishing represents one of the most popular fishing sports practiced today. Its popularity has yielded a multi-billion dollar industry unto itself, aside from the business of sport fishing, bass fishing stands alone. There are boats on the market designed specifically for bass fishing, rods and reels, clothing and gear are all being design around this very popular sport.
Freshwater sport fishing in Florida provided recreational opportunities for over 1.32 million people, over age 16, and generated an economic output of $2.0 billion in 2001. Aside from that, Florida freshwater recreational fishing generated 19,519 jobs with earnings of $484 million in 2001. Florida freshwater fishing provided 20.8 million angler days of recreation (92% resident) based on 14.5 million trips. (A trip is from the time someone leaves home until they return and may include many days; a day is defined by an activity on a specific day(s).
Unique to bass fishing, bass habitats include a variety of environments. Rivers, lakes, streams, reservoirs and even ponds. Rivers provide one of the healthiest habitats, due to the highly oxygenated waters from the rapid current. In order to fish bass from rivers, it is best to seek out current breaks, perhaps from a fallen tree, a stump, or rocks. The fish that bass feed upon will normally school below the current, thereby making these spots ideal for bass fishing.
There are at least 32 species of fish commonly caught in the numerous Florida lakes, ponds, canals and rivers throughout Florida. The anglers pursuing the most popular of these freshwater game fish, the largemouth bass. Second and local favorite referred to as, “perch jerkers” or pan fisherman depending upon the object of their pursuit.
Largemouth Bass without a doubt is the most sought after game fish in Florida. It is the main target of the majority of anglers in the nation. Many of these lure busting monsters get in the 10 to 12 pound range are taken every year in local Florida waters.
The yellow and brown bullhead, followed by the channel catfish, is the most abundant in the area. They are favored by sportsman for the delicious table fare that they provide. Also harvested commercially, mainly on Lake Okeechobee, and their tasty fillets are served as an “all you can eat” favorite in most area restaurants. But it is still the bass fish that promises the challenge of the sport.
Every freshwater river, canal, lake and pond in Florida is abundant with what is locally referred to as “panfish” for the thick tasty fillets they provide. The term actually covers a wide variety of pan sized fish in the sunfish family. These include, but are not limited to, the following: bluegill, bream, warmouth, and the most sought after, redeared sunfish, locally referred to as a “shellcracker” for its diet of aquatic snails. Another favorite is the exotic oscar or cichlid, which has flourished in the hundreds of miles of canals in the area.
An angler needs only to arm themselves with a cane pole and a can of worms or crickets for guaranteed success in catching supper. However, most anglers opt for the ultra-light spinning outfits with tiny spinners and spoons, or the fly rod with popping bugs. Catches of fifty or more a day are common.
While not particularly sought after, the pickerel must still be considered a game fish for its savage attacks on the lures most commonly thrown by bass fisherman. They are fast, tackle busting acrobatic fighters. While edible, they are usually released due the many pesky little bones in their fillets.
Also locally called speckled perch or “specks” and considered as the favorite of the “perch jerkers” or crappie fisherman that pursue them. These quick striking fish fall for a variety of lures. They congregate in large schools and once located, provide the angler with plenty of action and a great fish fry.
There are innumerable techniques and types of tackle available to practice the sport of bass fishing. For a beginner, it is advised to gather some more basic equipment to get started. Some suggestions, start with acquiring a 10-pound line, suitable for the average sizes and weights of this species in freshwater. Also, it is suggested to start with artificial bait until the angler has a better understanding of the unique lures used for bass fishing. The Spinnerbait is common artificial bait used by both amateur and seasoned anglers which can be easyiy casted and retrived.
The catch and release method was first introduced in the 1950s. It was designed to reduce the rising costs of restocking hatchery-raised fish, and was normally used for fish not meant for consumption. Popular consensus does not consider bass as a good food of fish, and so this technique is widely used by most bass fisherman.
Till next time tight lines and good fishing….
From Staff Writer BASSonline)
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