We’ve all heard of panfishing and any angler has used to term “panfish” to describe something they’ve caught. These are usually the fish we catch when we’re out there trying to catch bass because we’re using lightweight lures and fast action applications along the shoreline.
Every now and then, a bluegill or crappie will take hold and we’ll end up with one of these at the end of the line.
But, do we actually understand what a panfish is and how to catch one? Panfishing in Florida is popular because not only are these fish plentiful, they’re delicious and simple to cook.
This guide to Florida panfishing will help you better understand these fish and how to catch them.
What are Panfish?
Panfish is not actually a scientific term at all, it’s more so “angler slang.” That doesn’t mean that it’s not a correct way to describe these fish, it just means that you won’t find the word panfish in any fishing encyclopedias.
The word panfish actually refers to the fact that you can fit the entire fish in one single pan and they’ll never grow larger than the size of a pan.
For example, if you caught a six-pound largemouth bass, you wouldn’t be able to fit that in a pan. A one pound crappie, will fit in a pan.
Simple enough right?
What Fish Are Considered Panfish?
The term describes a fish that is always small enough to fit in a pan. So, which fish does that include? It will include species such as bluegill, crappie, and sunfish because they’re never going to grow larger than a pan.
Panfish are also fish that when filleted, are small enough to fit in some of the tiniest pans. Keep in mind that no matter how small a bass or walleye is, it’s still not going to ever be a panfish.
This is where things get confusing because we said “a fish small enough to fit in a pan.” Following that logic, a small bass would be a panfish.
Generally speaking, bluegill, crappie, sunfish, perch, pumpkinseed, and even rock bass are the only fish that we would label as a “panfish.”
Panfishing in Florida: The Basics
Now let’s get a little more specific. This is a Florida fishing guide after all. Let’s talk about some of the panfish you can expect to find when fishing the canals and ponds throughout Florida. There’s a large assortment of panfish here and this section of the guide will break it down for you.
Florida black crappie has a few different names. Some people call them specks and speckled perch, while others still refer to them as “crappie.” Either way, Lake Okeechobee is the greatest place for crappie fishing in the state.
Contrary to what we think we know about panfish, these guys spend some time offshore feeding on smaller fish so they grow much larger in Florida than they do in other states up north. Fishing with small minnows and grass shrimp are one of the best ways to find crappie.
Many anglers also attribute a lot of their success to night fishing. Keeping a lantern or boat light can draw a lot of attention from insects forcing the fish to come closer to the surface for pitching action.
Fishing for Bluegill
Bluegill fishing is the most common panfish in Florida because they thrive in a lot of situations across many of the lakes and ponds throughout the state. They have a large population in rivers as well with most anglers targeting them at the base of dams. They eat larvae and insects but live worms are considered the best bait for most bluegill anglers.
They spawn throughout the late spring and summer and it’s not uncommon to find as many as 30 or 40 of them in the same location. They’re pretty easy to catch with lightweight tackle, finesse techniques, and fast action rods and reels.
Ultralight is the best way to go because feeling every little nibble is essential. These guys don’t strike hard like bass do so you’ll need to feel everything otherwise they’ll eat your bait without you even knowing it.
Sunfish Fishing in Florida
These guys are known as shellcrackers around here and they eat a variety of live bait ranging from worms to clams and snails. March and April is their prime spawning season and they spend most of their time around hard bottoms near rocky dams. They grow a little bit larger than most bluegill and it’s not uncommon to find sunfish larger than one pound.
Lightweight tackle and ultralight applications are best here as well. Be alert and pay attention to every little nibble you feel.
Top Panfishing Techniques
We’ve talked about the baits and lures we should use but let’s speak more specifically about the fishing techniques you should use for panfishing in Florida. We know that fishing near rocks and dams is the best strategy but how should we present our bait?
Slow Rolling – Slow rolling jigs is one of my favorite methods. It involves casting long-distance beyond your target area and returning back to that area with a slow and steady retrieval. It’s one of the simplest methods of casting but it allows you to pass right over your target.
Vertical Jigging – If you’re fishing around the structure you’ll want to try vertical jigging. This involves pitching or dropping the bait near the boat and jigging it with the tip of the rod. Being able to identify shoreline structure is key so having a fish finder like the Lowrance HDS will help you locate fish that are holding to structure.
Dabbling – This technique works best when fishing the area of a river that dumps into a larger body of water. You’ll cast out right where the river feeds in and use the water movement to keep the lure in place. This action creates a natural movement of the lure and works great with live bait.
Where to Find Panfish in FL?
The best part about panfishing in Florida is that you can find them almost anywhere. If you’re targeting them for cooking or to introduce your kids to fishing, this is a great place to start. Most panfish start spawning season in the spring with their best fishing around April. All the canals surrounding the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee, Orlando, and Kissimmee are great places to find most panfish.
To Charter or Not to Charter?
If you’re traveling to the area, we always recommend taking advantage of a panfish fishing guide. Going out on the water with a guide is the best way to introduce yourself and your family to the sport of fishing and if you’re bringing kids along with you, it’s even better.
Many guides guarantee that you’ll catch something and they turn a fishing trip into a complete experience. They’ll show you exactly where you need to go, what gear to use, and how to fish the right techniques to catch as many fish as possible during your trip.
At this point, you should understand what panfishing is and know all about the most popular panfish in Florida. These fish are a great introduction to fishing for children, they’re tasty, and fun to chase.
If you’re in need of a unique and exciting day of fishing, panfishing offers a lot more of a thrill than you think. Good luck out there!
The Indian River is 121 miles long and it runs throughout the Indian River Lagoon system in East Florida. The river system runs right along the coast and it forms the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Its name came from the Rio de Ais Indian tribe and along the river, you’ll find dozens of incredibly historic Florida towns.
So, what draws people here? Why would it be worth it for you to leave your cozy little sleepy town to visit Florida for a river?
If you stick around long enough, you just might find out. Indian River fishing is some of the best in Florida. There’s a large variety of species, really healthy water, plenty of access points, and great opportunities to fish brackish inshore water.
Indian River Inlet Fishing
The Indian River Lagoon is minutes away from the Orlando International Airport and it stretches for 121 miles from New Smyrna Beach down to Vero Beach. On the way, it passes through other highly desirable areas such as Cocoa Beach and Sebastian. This river is one of the top destinations in the world for record spotted sea trout and redfish. Not to mention a majority of state records set in the state of Florida happened on the river.
The Northern stretch of the Indian River at Cape Canaveral houses the Kennedy Space Station so if that’s your cup of tea, millions have sat along the shorelines to watch NASA rocket launches over the years.
On the Eastern portion of the river is where you’ll find the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Here you can see acres upon acres of alligators, dolphins, birds, otters, and manatees.
Indian River fishing is so much more than fishing, it’s great fun and wonderful activities for the whole family even if you’re visiting with a crew that isn’t as into fishing as you are. There are plenty of things for everyone to see.
Indian River Inlet Fishing Report: Top Catches
Alright, enough about all of that; let’s talk fishing. If you’re visiting the Indian River to snag some picture-worthy catches then you’ll want to know what you can expect to find. The Indian River is well known for having a large number of fish and plenty of different species.
Redfish are the number one catch throughout the Indian River Lagoon system and when you think of a true Florida fishing experience, this is where your mind goes. There are plenty of grassy shallow waters throughout the riverbanks so it’s the perfect habitat for redfish.
One thing that redfish are known for is having a heavy appetite and they’ll feast on everything that comes their way. They’re attracted to a lot of different lures and live baits so you really don’t have to think about it too much. Most locals recommend going with soft plastic and sight fishing along with the shallow parts of the river.
Spinning gear is the tackle of choice and it’s a great choice if you don’t have a lot of experience. Interestingly enough, most of the record size redfish caught in this river have actually been caught with flies. So, you have your choice.
I’d suggest bringing a large variety of lures with you and making your choice based on the situation that day. Pay attention to the weather, take a look at your surroundings, and talk with other anglers and anyone else you come in contact with when you reach the river.
This is a world-famous destination for speckled trout and it’s no surprise. The state record for speckled trout was caught here and weighed in at more than 17 pounds. The best part about fishing for specks here is the fact that there is a large quantity of fish in this size range. It’s not uncommon for someone to simply stumble upon one without even chasing it down.
The reason for this is the ecosystem. It’s prime territory for speckled trout because of the grassy beds and mangroves that attract tons of shrimp and mullet which is exactly what the speckled trout want to feed on. It makes it really easy to blend in and with the right presentation and lure you should have no problem being able to attract them to you too.
Locals suggest getting to the river early or right before dusk when you have an overcast sky. These are the ideal trout fishing conditions. They recommend light spinning tackle here as well and prepare for a fight when you hook one.
This wouldn’t be a Florida fishing guide without talking about Tarpon. This river is like a tarpon highway and they just fly up and down the river. The silver king is a hard-fighting, challenging, and acrobatic fish that inhabits the water year-round so you don’t have to time your trip that carefully if this is the species you’re after.
The locals recommend fishing Ponce Inlet during the summer months though if you’re really after some Tarpon. You might want to size up your tackle a little bit because tarpon put up quite a fight and they’re not the easiest fish to get into the boat unless you’ve got the right line and rod on your side.
Top Indian River Fishing Spots
Now that you have an idea of what kind of fish you’ll catch, you’ll need to get a little more specific on where you want to fish. Keep in mind that this river is huge so don’t expect to drop in on very many of these locations because the river stretches down a large portion of the east coast of Florida.
New Smyrna Beach
If you want to start at the top and attempt to work your way down, New Smyrna Beach is where you’ll start. It’s the northernmost section of the river and there are plenty of ways for you to access it. Here you’ll find some of the largest redfish and plenty of sea trout as well. If you’re looking for a New Smyrna Beach fishing charter, this is where you’ll want to look as well.
Working our way down, the next stop on the river is Titusville. It’s the ideal shallow water location and it’s right across the way from the Kennedy Space Center. If you find the Causeway Bridge you know you’ve found the best place on the water for Tarpon and Snook. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch a rocket launch, plan accordingly!
Melbourne is home to great Indian River Lagoon fishing because it offers great shallow water opportunities for kayak anglers. There are plenty of locations to rent a kayak from if you didn’t bring your own as well. Not to mention the fact that the water is saturated with huge redfish and speckled trout. If you’re looking for the spot with the highest concentration of large fish, Melbourne is the stop you won’t want to miss.
If you’re planning a trip around the fall, Sebastian is the place you want to go. The mullet run happens between September and October and it’s a beautiful thing to see. Not to mention the fact that the snook and redfish will be chasing down the mullet so it brings upon some excellent fishing opportunities as well.
Fly anglers, hold onto your hat because Vero Beach is the spot for you. There are hundreds of places for you to wade and find incredibly productive snook and redfish angling. There are not quite as many places to launch a boat if that’s your game but MacWilliam Park is one of them and there are many great activities for the whole family here.
Indian River Fishing: How to Do It
The last choice you have to make is how you plan to tackle these brackish waters. You’ve got a few choices but we always recommend one for certain.
Charter a Boat
We suggest chartering whenever you can, especially if you’re not familiar with the area. There are great Florida fishing charters dotted up and down the Indian River in places like New Smyrna Beach, Melbourne, Cocoa Beach, and more.
Fishing alongside a captain is always a great way to go because you don’t have to worry about bringing gear, you can piggyback off their knowledge, and they’ll make sure you catch something. In fact, many fishing charters have a “catch” guarantee otherwise you get a portion or all of your money back. If you’re really looking to create a unique experience, we highly suggest chartering a boat.
Few things in this world compare to the feeling of wade fishing on the Indian River. It allows you to get up close and personal with the ecosystem and target exactly where you want to fish. The big advantage is that you don’t need anything other than your rod and reel. If you’re traveling light or roughing it “nomad style” all you need to do is grab your waders and get in the river.
Most of the places that local anglers recommend are around bridges that run over the river. These are ideal locations but you’ll want to look out for overhanging trees, mangroves, and tall grassy areas as well. Just be careful and watch out for private property signs.
This is the epitome of Indian River Florida fishing. If you want to immerse yourself in the wildlife, kayaking is a great way to do so. It allows you to navigate the water gently so you don’t scare the fish away but you also get to target specific locations because a kayak will permit access to much shallower water than most boats.
If you’ve kayak fished before, this won’t be as challenging for you but you’ll want to make sure you have a plan before hitting the water. If you’re new to it, you might want to look for a kayak guided fishing trip because kayak fishing requires a lot more strength, conditioning, and experience than you think.
If the trophy-sized redfish and exceptional ecosystem didn’t sell you, you’ll want to try Indian River fishing simply for the beautiful and majestic scenery. They don’t call this area the Treasure Coast for nothing. The Indian River offers some of the greatest fishing on the East Coast and we think it should be on every serious angler’s bucket list.
Fishing the Everglades offers an ecosystem quite like any other. People from all over the world travel here to experience some of the most exciting, thrilling, and mind-boggling fishing available. Florida houses one of the only two everglades on the planet and if this is a destination on your bucket list, it’s time to make that dream a reality.
Types of Fish in the Everglades
The Everglades houses a variety of different habitats with fresh, salt, and brackish water. The result is a large number of different species available depending on where you go. The sheer number of fish that you can catch here is enough to draw people from all over.
Whether you’re trying to fish the wetlands, waterways, canals, marshes, or mangroves, you’re sure to create a ton of amazing memories fishing the Florida Everglades.
Tarpon is a highly desirable fish in this area and the Everglades has plenty of them. It’s not uncommon for some anglers to find Tarpon as big as 150 pounds on a regular basis. Best of all, these silver giants put up an incredible fight and that’s one of the primary reasons why we find Tarpon on most anglers’ bucket lists.
If you’re fishing the shallow waters you’ll find Redfish scattered about. These fish prefer the marshland and they’re plentiful year-round. For this reason, Redfish is a common target for many travelers fishing inshore because they know it’s something they can find pretty easily. Don’t let that mistake you thought. Redfish put up quite a fish and they’re a delicious bite.
Snook are part of what makes Florida one of the top fishing destinations in the world. First, Snook is a delicious catch and a fish that tastes quite unlike any other. Second, the size of these fish is unbelievable.
The Everglades ecosystem is rich with Snook because they’re not the easiest to catch down here. As a result, they tend to grow to larger sizes than you would find elsewhere in more open waters.
Bass aren’t the official freshwater fish of Florida for nothing, right? There are few things that compare to the thrill and excitement of battling a largemouth bass in the lakes, creeks, and canals that are littered throughout the Everglades.
Fishing for bass in the Everglades is a unique treat as well because they grow like weeds around here. The average size of each largemouth bass caught is five pounds so expect them to put up a fight.
As one of the most beautiful game fish in the world, the peacock bass is in high demand around here. They put up a tremendous fight, they’re a joy to chase, and they’ve found a nice home in the Everglades so they’re not as hard to find as you think. You can expect to find peacock bass all throughout the Everglades in places like Alligator Alley and Holiday Park.
How to Fish the Everglades
When it comes to fishing the incredible 1.5 million acres of land that makes up the Everglades, the opportunities seem endless. It might seem a bit overwhelming but if you plan accordingly, you’ll have no reason to feel uneasy about the trip. We recommend having a plan drawn out for how you intend on fishing and where you want to go as well.
Let’s talk about how you plan to fish in the Florida Everglades:
From the Shore
You could always fish from the shore. This strategy has the lowest barrier of entry, doesn’t require a lot of gear, and doesn’t require any special preparation if you just want to show up and wet some lines.
If shore fishing sounds like your thing, you’ll want to check out Everglades National Park. There are plenty of places here where you can fish from the shore, enjoy a picnic, spend time with family, and still experience some of the best fishing anywhere in the world.
Close to the park’s entrance are a variety of small lakes and ponds but if you head a little deeper in you’ll start to introduce yourself to the more brackish waters.
From the Kayak
There’s something primitive and unique about kayak fishing and personally, we love kayakers on the Everglades. It allows you to get up close and personal with everything that’s going on in this incredible ecosystem. When you’re in a kayak, you can make your way through the many waterways and canals while taking in the sights and sounds of true marshland wilderness.
Where else in the world can you drop a line and catch some of the greatest game fish out there while paddling past alligators and manatees?
We suggest being extra careful about dropping a kayak and we recommend renting one in Everglades City if you choose to do so. The guides there will be able to help you stay safe on the water and they’ll tell you where you should and shouldn’t go.
From the Charter
Chartering a boat is really the best way to take in everything that fishing in the Everglades has to offer. This wild habitat requires a lot of knowledge and experience and that’s best left for the professionals.
Taking a charter will allow you to cover more ground and you’ll also have the versatility and time to not have to worry so much about where you’re going. You can sit back, relax, and let the guide take care of all the work. Best of all, they’ll share secrets with you and bring you to the best spots that no one else knows.
Where to Fish in the Everglades
The Everglades is a massive area that covers an assortment of smaller areas. Within these are hundreds of lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, mangroves, and marshes. All of these places house incredible fishing but you need to know where you want to go before hitting the water. Here are some of our top recommendations for the best places to fish in the Everglades.
Holiday Park – Holiday Park is a great bass fishing destination. You’ll be able to access the L67A canal which is considered the top bass spot in the Everglades. The canal runs to Tamiami Trail which is slower-paced, easier to fish and less pressure.
Ten Thousand Islands – A portion of these islands makes up the Everglades National Park so you know there are plenty of great fishing opportunities here. You’ll find Redfish, Snook, Tarpon, and more here. There is also an assortment of fishing charters operating on this part of the Everglades.
Alligator Alley – Alligator Alley produces some of the best bass fishing in the state according to all the local captains. The water is high here which creates a lot of space to fish and they’re low-pressure because this area is only accessible by boat. It’s located off I-75 near the Big Cypress Swamp Wilderness of Water Conservation Area 3.
Sawgrass Recreation Park – Sawgrass allows you to really get up close and personal with the best that the Everglades has to offer. It’s a unique subtropic ecosystem rich with wildlife and plenty of great fishing. Largemouth bass and panfish are the desired catch here. Most catches are between four and seven pounds.
Florida Bay – Florida Bay is the southernmost tip of mainland Florida before the land starts extending out to the Keys. Again, like everywhere else there are plenty of Tarpon, Redfish, and Snook here. If you’re interested in more open water fishing and fewer marshes and canals, this is an ideal destination.
Pine Glades Lake – If you’re seeking plenty of shore fishing opportunities and something to do with the whole family, Pine Glades is a nice spot. Here you’ll find easy shore fishing access and plenty of panfish like Crappie and Bluegill. It makes for a relaxing and easy fishing experience for those who aren’t as serious about hooking a big one.
Snake Bight – One specific area on the Florida Bay that draws a lot of attention is Snake Bight. The Snook cruise throughout the mangroves here and there are plenty of access points for kayaks, boats, and even shore fishing. It’s one of the easiest and most productive locations to fish in the Everglades so we recommend getting here early because it’s usually pretty crowded.
Fishing the Everglades Canals
Canals are plentiful around here and they offer the best bass fishing in the Everglades. Some of the most popular canals are the L67, Big 67, 67C, and L28. All the local charters recommend checking out Alligator Alley as well. This area is nice if you’re launching your own boat because there are plenty of ramps with a lot of different access points. It’s recommended that you hit these spots in the early morning and late afternoon.
Best Everglades Fishing Charters
Fishing the Everglades is really an experience that no one ever forgets. As you traverse through the canals you’ll almost feel as if you stepped into a different world. All around you is nothing but wildlife and fish just waiting for you to drop your bait.
We highly recommend recruiting the assistance of a fishing charter for your trip to the Everglades. It will help enhance the experience and you catch a lot more fish this way. Local Captains are able to introduce you to the best spots on the Everglades and you can even charter a boat based on what you’re trying to catch.
If South Florida has been sitting on your bucket list, it’s time to cross it off with a trip to the beautiful and simply breathtaking, Everglades.
Every location has that one fish that brings tons of people to the area and for South Florida, it’s peacock bass. Peacock bass fishing is attractive because of the eye-catching color of the fish and the brash and aggressive nature of the fish.
If you’re traveling to Miami, Naples, or anywhere in South Florida, you’ll want to continue reading to learn more about peacock bass and why they should be on your list of “fish to catch in my lifetime.”
Understanding Peacock Bass
The first thing you should understand is that peacock bass aren’t actually bass, they’re Cichlids. In fact, there are a ton of huge differences between these guys and bass. This is the reason why a lot of anglers come to Florida confused by the fact that they don’t behave the same way as largemouth bass.
First of all, there are actually 16 different species of peacock bass. The problem is you can’t catch most of them off the coast of the United States. The fish originated in the Amazon and that’s where most of the species still live.
So, that begs the question; how did they get here? According to the FWC, they were brought into Florida by the WC in 1984 and it’s also believed that they were imported from Guyana, Peru, and Brazil as well.
Why Target Peacock Bass
Another question is why would we come to Florida to fish canals and waterways when there are so many brilliant opportunities in offshore fishing? You can catch things like sailfish, snapper, group, and tarpon; why would we go after these?
While there’s no right or wrong answer to this, we think it has a lot to do with their appearance and the fight they give for a smaller canal fish. They’re finicky about what they eat but once they decide on something, they’re highly aggressive and will not give in easily. You better be prepared for a fight if getting a picture with a peacock bass is on your bucket list.
When you’re traveling and fishing the urban canals, portability is key so you’ll want to make sure you’re only traveling with the amount of gear necessary to get the job done. Telescopic rods are nice but I don’t recommend them due to the lack of durability and strength.
Where you can save a little space and weight is through using an inflatable kayak. These are highly portable and you’d be surprised by how much abuse they can take.
Best Lures for Peacock Bass Fishing
Peacock bass are a bit finicky so you want to choose the right lures and stick to them. Once you understand what lures to use you’ll have no problem bringing in a lot of peacock bass and when they bite, get ready because it’s like someone dropped a 20 lb rock on top of your hook.
Here are some of my top choices for peacock bass lures:
Rip Roller Stick Baits
Rip Rollers are some of the most popular lures for peacock bass because of their noisy presentation and larger size. You don’t have to get this specific type but you want something with a few treble hooks and the propellor on the back. 5.5-inches is around the size you’ll find most of these and they’re usually made of solid wood to create topwater buoyancy.
When it comes to color, you want to mimic something that the peacock bass are used to eating so I’d go with a perch color or something else that’s orange and bright. These are deadly in the warm water months.
Next, we have a 5-inch crankbait that creates a little less noise for the days when the fish aren’t biting. Keep in mind that if you’re fishing in South Florida, you’re fishing highly trekked waters. Peacock bass are used to people fishing this area to death so sometimes a bit loud presentation doesn’t work.
This is a spook type crankbait, it’s big, durable, and comes with heavy treble hooks that can handle this type of power. It also has an internal rattle so it’s not completely silent. Go with the redhead on overcast days and a brighter bronze color on sunny days.
Bear in mind that a lot of peacock bass feed below the surface so topwaters won’t always work. Yo-Zuri is a great saltwater lure brand and their minnows allow you to walk the dog, jerk erratically, and create the presentation of a wounded baitfish.
This is especially helpful if you’re not having any luck. The area you’re fishing may simply be overdone and the bass are very timid. This method is a great way to get them biting again.
Bucktail Extended Jigs
The last piece of peacock bass fishing tackle I’ll give you are extended tail jigs. These are growing in popularity amongst peacock bass anglers for a few reasons.
One, you can work them in heavily vegetated areas because the tail helps you cruise over stumps and dense brush.
Second, you can troll with them if you’re trying to cover a lot of water. You can fish them by working through the vegetation with erratic short jerks followed by lull periods of trolling but make sure to keep it moving quickly. If you slow down the presentation too much you’ll attract black bass.
Third, they’re a dime a dozen and you’ll lose a lot in the water because most fish take a liking to these. You don’t have to spend $25 on one lure and you can pair up a variety of color combinations.
Lures To Stay Away From
It’s not often that we tell you lures to avoid but as mentioned, peacock bass are finicky so you want to stick to what works and avoid what doesn’t like the plague. Soft plastics are generally the worst-performing lures for peacock bass fish. They just don’t like them.
Another reason we don’t recommend soft plastics are because every other fish in the water will chew up all your time. You’re not out here targeting black bass and panfish right now, we’re looking for the bright and beautiful peacock so let’s not waste any time. It’s like they say in business, “if you try to win every one, you win no one.” Focus on the species you’re targeting and leave the rest for another day.
We also highly suggest against using live bait. A lot of people will tell you that live bait is the best way to go for peacock bass but as local guides and experts, we recommend you don’t use lie bait, and here’s why.
Peacock bass like to swallow live bait which will result in a deep hook down in the throat or gills. These are a pain to remove and almost always ends with a dead fish. We practice catch and release with peacock bass and we suggest you do the same. Fishing live bait is frowned upon for this reason.
Top Peacock Bass Fishing Locations
We’re separating this part of the guide into three sections. These are the “big 3” when it comes to peacock bass fishing in Florida. If you’re tracking peacock, you want to catch some, and you’re on your own without a guide. These are the three places you’ll want to go.
Best Peacock Bass Fishing in West Palm Beach
Urban canal fishing in Palm Beach county is incredibly popular and it brings a lot of people to the area. If you’re looking in this area, expect to fish around Delray Beach and Boynton Beach. Lake Osborne and Lake Ida Park are part of the Lake Ida chain of lakes and they house some of the best peacock bass fishing in the world.
Best Peacock Bass Fishing in Miami
There are many different locations in Miami and Dade county but there’s one that always seems to exceed expectations. Miami Airport Lakes is the number one destination for peacock bass so you’ll want to check it out especially around Anthony Marcelo Park. Falls Mall Canal is another big one and it’s located near 13145 SW 89 PL. It’s a canal that runs behind the “Falls Mall” in Miami but this is a convenient access point with plenty of parking.
Best Peacock Bass Fishing in Naples
They don’t call Naples, “Paradise Coast” for nothing. There are a ton of things to do here for the whole family and some of the greatest peacock bass fishing you could imagine. The urban canal systems bring about a great population of peacocks and the fight that they put up is next to nothing.
The Golden Gate canal system is where you’ll find the most peacock bass as well as plenty of other saltwater species. Warm water fishing is the best way to go here and as mentioned, the fun doesn’t have to stop once you get off the boat.
Peacock Bass Fishing Charters in Florida
There are great fishing charters all over South Florida and each of them specializes in a specific area and species so be sure to choose wisely.
For example, Captain Mark Rogers has the biggest boat in the fleet that they call the “Big O” on Lake Okeechobee. He does most of his fishing near his home in Naples, Florida so if you have a larger party and want to fish Naples for peacock bass, you might want to talk to Captain Mark.
Either way, we highly recommend fishing with a charter if you come to Florida. Of course, fishing inshore canals and waterways is easy to do on your own compared to braving the offshore waters but to get the full experience, a charter is the way to go.
The best Lake Erie fishing charters aren’t just there to take you out on the water; they’re responsible for providing you with an experience. They should offer Lake Erie fishing reports, all the gear you need, and the guidance you want to catch more fish. That’s what you’re paying for.
We’re breaking down the best charters on the Lake from Ohio to New York in this guide. By the end, you’ll understand what to catch, how to catch it, and what charters you should consider looking into this year.
Fishing Lake Erie
If you’re considering a fishing trip to Lake Erie, one of the first things that should come to your mind is what you can expect to catch there. The good news is, Lake Erie is a popular destination for smallmouth bass anglers of all skill levels, and if you’ve never considered it, you should add it to your bucket list.
One of the reasons it’s so popular is that it’s an affordable fishing destination compared to offshore chartering or some of the other great lakes.
Lake Erie has experienced its share of hardship over the years. Throughout the 1960s and for many years after, Lake Erie was a perfect example of water pollution from factories, sewer systems, and pesticides from farms. The water was so polluted that you could actually stick your hand in and pull out a handful of algae.
Even today, fertilizer and manure runoff runs into the streams and rivers that flow into Lake Erie, which is why the lake has such large algae bloom compared to all of the other Great Lakes.
All of that aside, anglers still have a ton of success on the lake and consider it some of the best smallmouth, steelhead, and walleye fishing in the country.
What Can You Catch
Let’s break it down a little more and talk about each species you can expect to find when you charter a boat on Lake Erie. It’s known as the “Walleye Capital of the World” for a reason. You’ll find dozens of crazy stories around anglers bragging over their walleye “catch of a lifetime.” Even if you’ve never fished for walleye before, as long as you get there during the right time (which we’ll talk about), you can expect to fill your well with plenty of fish.
The lake is broken up into three sections. You’ve got:
- The Deep Eastern Basin
- Flat-Bottom Central Basin
- Shallow Western Basin
Each of these basins contains its own unique challenges, conditions, and characteristics, so you’ll want to understand each before requesting a charter in any of these three sections.
The shallow western basin houses the smallmouth bass population. These feisty little fish put up quite a fight, and you can expect to find them along drop-offs and ledges in the shallow waters.
The deeper eastern basin is where you’ll find most of the walleye. Some of the best walleye fishing in the country happens here. Walleye travel a large distance every year, so you’ll have to play the lake by season. During the summer months, expect to find them in the east in New York. In the winter/fall, you can find them a bit further south.
Lake Erie: By Season
It’s crucial to understand the seasons and how they impact the fishing on Lake Erie. Taking a look at each of these will help you learn what you can catch to decide when you’d like to charter a boat.
Springtime is a hit or miss when it comes to temperature. Sometimes it’s frigid and cold, and most of the water is still frozen, and other times, the water doesn’t freeze at all. Lake Erie is more shallow than the other Great Lakes, so it tends to freeze over faster.
Fishing in the spring is great for perch, smallmouth, and rock bass, while fishing for walleye is a bit slow this time of year.
One interesting opportunity is shore fishing for walleye at night. It seems like local anglers know that the fingerling population comes out at night during the spring and the walleye chase them along the shore. This factor creates an interesting opportunity for the angler who understands what they’re doing.
Summer is when fishing on Lake Erie heats up, and this is when most anglers will charter a boat. It’s prime walleye season from July to September, and most of the best fishing for walleye happens as far to the east or west as possible.
After September, the lake loses some of its lusters, but there are still plenty of great fishing opportunities, especially when chartering a boat. Boat charters allow you to get to places other anglers can’t, and schools of walleye are still mulling around the waters through October.
Best Lake Erie Fishing Charters
Now that you understand what to expect when fishing the lake, now let’s take a look at the best Lake Erie fishing charters, so you know who to call when it’s time to plan that trip. These charters are the most recommended by locals and online authorities, so be sure to take these recommendations.
Mark Rose offers an exceptional fishing experience on Lake Erie for smallmouth bass. He recommends doing so between the months of May and October if you plan on getting the most out of your trip.
One thing that seems a little different about Mark than some of the other charters is his guiding seems a bit more intimate where it’s done on a one-on-one basis. Mark will guide you through fishing on Lake Erie and really stick by you to help ensure you understand how to catch smallies and so you’ll have the best time possible.
If you’re looking to take your Lake Erie fishing to a whole new level of enjoyment, comfort, and style, iOutdoor Adventures offers a great experience. Captain Tom Goodrich is a U.S Coast Guard Certified Boat Master Captain and has over 20 years of experience fishing these waters.
The team is professional, courteous, and helpful when working with children and anglers of all skill levels. Their goal is to keep you safe and ensure you have a great experience. Expect to catch walleye, steelhead, lake trout, and perch when fishing with iOutdoor Adventures.
One thing we like most about this charter is that the package you purchase is generally targeted to a specific species of fish. For example, you can do a four-hour trip specifically for Walleye for $399.99 You can also do a “mix bag,” which can be anything for six hours.
Oak Harbor, Ohio
Captain Jim Mitchell leads the team at Erie Angler LLC in Ohio. They provide a great charter experience for both kids and adults. The charter has a 30-foot Baha Cruiser capable of taking six people out on the water, and the boat comes with full safety features, navigational equipment, fishfinder, and more.
You always want to look for a charter with a fish finder because that will give you the edge and ensure you have a great experience.
The Captain says you can expect to catch walleye, yellow perch, and smallmouth bass, which is right up our alley. They provide all high-quality equipment, including Berkley, Daiwa, Okuma, and Pflueger brands. You need to have an active license to cast from the boat.
Pacific time Sportfishing operates a large assortment of fishing charters across the country. It’s no wonder they included Lake Erie on their list. Captain Todd Pavilk encourages anglers of all ages and skill levels to come aboard a charter to not only learn more about fishing but to have a great time as well.
The Captain has a 30-foot Pursuit offshore boat powered by twin 265HP Crusader engines, and the boat accommodates up to five guests with plenty of room.
Walleye, yellow perch, and steelhead are the fish of choice here, and trolling is the method that the Captain uses most frequently. All equipment is included in your price, but you’re required to supply your own fishing license.
Rod-bending walleye is the promise of Erie Doghouse Charters in Pennsylvania. This team has a Carolina Classic 25-foot boat designed to handle the ocean-like conditions of rocky Lake Erie. Expect to find the gamut of species, including walleye, lake trout, perch, and steelhead with Captain Tony.
As with all fishing charters in Pennsylvania, you need to possess a license to fish, and you can get a one day pass if you’re just in the area for the charter. You’re able to keep up to six walleye, 30 perch, and three steelheads per person, and the first mate will clean your fish for you.
If you’re looking for something a little different, you can travel to downtown Cleveland and hit the lake’s western basin. Captain Daniel McDonnell offers exceptional walleye fishing and 25 years of experience tracking them down.
He recommends that you book a spring walleye fishing trip because that’s when they migrate back to the western basin, and you’ll be able to find them near Port Clinton and Oak Harbor. The shallow water is where you can expect to find them, and jigging around the reefs will yield a great result.
Lake Erie has something for everyone, a true outdoor adventure that has to be experienced to truly experience the thrill!