Ranked #1 Best Lakes in Florida

Ranked #1 Best Lakes in Florida

Rodman Reservoirs’ reputation as one of the best lakes in Florida stood out in the nation and received another boost on Monday when Bassmaster Magazine released its rankings for the best lakes in Florida….but we ask, is any of this even accurate?

Rodman Reservoir earned the No. 5 spot in the nation and is No. 1 in the Florida Division, beating out Headwaters Lake, Lake Okeechobee, St Johns River, Lake Toho, and others for top honors. While the ranking is arguably correct at first glance, our and others’ catch ratios show many different results.

While BassMaster went over and beyond prior years to find the best results and locate the sources of information, they were mostly incomplete. Let’s look at their resources and break them down so you better understand.

Ranked #1 Best Lakes in Florida

Exploring Bias in the Best Lakes in Florida

They’re quoted saying, more than three months of research went into this year’s rankings,” explained BassmasterMagazine editor James Hall, who noted that the initial pool of top fisheries was developed with input from B.A.S.S. Nation members across the country, state fisheries biologists, the 3,500-member B.A.S.S. Council and some of the 650,000 Facebook fans of B.A.S.S.

So, the debate is not about the results but the resources and data used to calculate the results. When you read the results, you’re thinking as an angler. That, if I fish that body of water, it will hold the best and biggest catch! That is wrong. That would assume that the survey was based on “Catch Data,” which it should be, but is not simply because it’s unavailable.

So, instead, it seems that BM had followers, readers, and fans establish the ranking. Here lies one of the problems, as the readers see it published….”They believe the best fishing lakes in Florida to be where they will catch the most and the biggest fish,” not just which lakes were voted most popular by fans!

So let’s look at their resources for determining the top bass fishing lake in Florida.

Rodman Reservoir Florida Fishing

Let’s Explore the Sources of info used.

Fact #1: They used B.A.S.S. Nation members, 3,500 B.A.S.S. council members, and 650,00 Facebook fans. That’s great, but all have one thing in common: they are all regionally located and almost guarantee voted for a local or popularly named lake near them. Why not consider the majority of the anglers that live in, let’s say, California will and have never fished Ohio, Texas, Alabama, etc., so how could they vote for a body of water in Ohio? This works both ways; I am willing to bet if the data were published, there would be a direct collation between the highest lakes and where the votes’ geographical location was collected.

Let’s be honest: even if you watched the Bassmaster tour on TV and it was excellent fishing on Table Rock Lake, should you be able to vote for that lake even though you have never fished it? That is not “Catch Data,” Without it, how can anyone rank for the best lake in Florida, Arkansas, California, Georgia, or others? Call it what it is: a popularity contest?

It Only Gets Better and More Informative

Fact #2: If the debate turned to state fisheries biologist collection as the most critical data, let us provide our readers with additional information so you better understand why this is not a valuable source.

Most states don’t even collect data for bass, which is fewer than you would think, like 2%. Out of those, the majority provide what is referred to as “shock data.” You do this by traveling to the exact locations on the lake, year after year at the same time, for the same amount of time. Then, compare those results to the previous years. And while shock data is beneficial, it is entirely different than “catch data.” Most states struggle to accumulate this, but as anglers, it is what we get each time we go fishing.

Why not use shock data for this kind of survey, you ask? There are several reasons and a few important ones. Any lake deeper than 8+ feet, especially lakes with ledges where fish stage. These fish can not be shocked; they are to deep, so they are never included in shock data. But these same fish, on the same day, can be caught by anglers fishing, which is “catch data” and is never collected.  Many ways shock data and catch data differ. That is one example.

Rodman Reservoir Drawdown Fishing

How to Provide Better Data

To get catch data, some state agencies have biologists at the boat ramps or, in some cases, have boats that pull up next to you on the water and ask questions like, how many fish have you caught today? How many below 12″, between 13″-18″, and so on. This data then complies to help manage the fishery, but in NO way does this get an accurate calculation of “catch data” or how a determine best lakes in Florida should be ranked for anglers looking to go fishing.

Included within the BassMaster statement was, “Then we scoured the Internet for current catch-rate data, using the results of more than two dozen tournament organizations and several state ‘lunker’ programs to narrow the field to 100. It’s a difficult process, but the results give bass anglers the ultimate bucket list of lakes,” Hall said.

Why is it accumulated?

So let’s look at the lunker programs several states have started collecting. Data collecting programs: Texas has the Share-a-lunker program, and Florida has Trophy Catch. All these programs were created to better accumulate CATCH data and science for the biologist, which helps with many things when properly managing a body of water. While these programs are needed to address the resources and accumulate catch data correctly, they also cost the taxpayers lots of money.

If not correctly managed, it becomes like many other government projects that never meet their potential, which could be argued about either of these two programs. The difficulty of these programs is angler participation, and with government agencies running them, it leaves a lot of questions among anglers about why and how to participate. Ultimately, these data collection programs are highly needed to get the truth, but many would suggest they could be more efficient and more successful being privately operated.

Either way, at this point, because not enough data has been collected, the average fishing club gets more data in a year than these programs. So, unfortunately, they could not have been solely used to determine the best lakes in Florida or the TOP 100 lakes in the United States…the lack of complete data makes it impossible. And just propaganda to the anglers!

March Rodman Reservoir Fishing

Let’s try this a different way. Suppose we were looking for the best lakes in Florida for swimming. In that case, the data is available to answer whether it has alligators, whether people currently swim in the lake, how many injuries there have been, the type of shoreline, or whether it allows motor boating and so many other facts. If that same question is altered to ask about the best swimming lakes in Florida, why you could use some of the same similar data? Ultimately, the source writing the article will be expressing their opinion on the results, as each person may like each lake for a different reason.

In the same tone, if we want to write about the best lakes in Florida for boating, it is pretty straightforward and accurate to ask. Which lakes have a boat ramp, how many boats are registered in the local area, etc? And one last point to hammer home the facts: if you asked what’s the best lakes in Florida to live on, you could look at popular fishing lakes, other activities that are popular, and access, and in the end, it would still come down to the writer’s opinion and not facts!

In Conclusion

If you are among the anglers out there across the internet and are looking for the best lakes in Florida or the top lakes in the United States, you may want to take the Bassmaster results with a grain of salt. Many anglers and organizations are voicing their displeasure, so before you hook-up to your boat and travel across the country on bass fishing trips. Know this is NOT ACCURATE or COULD not be an accurate assessment of the lakes without accurate catch data; they simply produce this list for the hype!

Clearly, according to the statement made by BM, the Best Lakes in Florida was accumulated with little information that was available. But knowing the information is inadequate, should they still produce a list of false propaganda? Let us know below!

Although we hope you share this post to educate and inform others, in no way do we want you to conclude or take away from this post by BM that any of these best lakes in Florida on the list don’t belong ranked…it’s not about the results, but how they got them!

Media and content should be about facts, not opinions!   To read the Best Florida Bass Fishing Destinations


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