TOP Florida Bass Lakes

Florida has hundreds of accessible lakes and rivers, offering endless numbers of great bass fishing lakes. All locations mentioned here are top-rated Florida bass fisheries. The top ten bass fisheries are rated based on angler popularity and success, consistently providing an all-around fantastic fishing experience.  The top five bass lakes provide the highest chance at catching trophy bass and decent numbers.

Top 10 Bass Lakes In Florida:
  1. Rodman Reservoir
  2. Lake Okeechobee
  3. Lake Tohopekaliga (Lake Toho)
  4. Lake Istokpoga
  5. Stick Marsh (Farm 13)
  6. Lake Ida Chain
  7. Harris Chain of Lakes
  8. Miami Airport Lakes
  9. Butler Chain
  10. Everglades Holiday Park

Top Five Florida Bass Lakes

top bass fishing in Florida
florida bass fisheries - freshwater lake United States
Florida trophy fish -Rodman Reservoir
Okeechobee bass trips-florida's largest lake
Lake Toho- Lake Tohopekaliga- top bass lakes in Florida

1. Rodman Reservoir

Rodman Reservoir, located south of Palatka in Putnam County, is a premier largemouth bass fishery situated in Northeast Florida, covering 9,500 acres, and stretches about 19 miles long. Anglers travel to Rodman Reservoir from around the world every year to experience its trophy largemouths because of its great reputation for trophy catch success. Rodman Reservoir contains a vast amount of flooded timber, some of which are emergent and some submerged. There is plenty of hydrilla’s, shallow wood cover, large rafts of hyacinth and water lettuce, and eelgrass.

Techniques and Tips

Rodman Reservoir is filled with big bass that anglers can catch throughout the year; however, the best time for a monster bass and getting that trophy fish is during spawning season. The largemouth bass spawn on Rodman Reservoir runs from late December through May. During the summer season, most largemouths seek deeper waters for cooler temperatures in the river channel. Anglers can still find quality largemouth bass roaming the shallow flats during low light times, such as early mornings and late afternoons. During these times, throwing topwater baits such as the SkitterWalk or Rapala X-Rap Prop around grass edges and stumps can be effective. Weed mats are also an excellent place to catch largemouth bass in the warmer months. When fishing the weed mats, popular artificial lures include flipping jigs, vibrating jigs, and heavily-weighted Yamamoto Fat Baby Craw in black/blue or Junebug.

2. Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee is the most well-known big bass lake in Florida, famous for its quantity and quality bass produced regularly. Lake Okeechobee is Florida’s largest lake and is the second-largest freshwater body in the contiguous United States. Lake Okeechobee boasts over 150,000 acres of healthy vegetation, including bulrush, Kissimmee grass, cattails, hydrilla, and lily pads. Despite its large size, the Big O averages only 9 feet deep. There’s a 100-yard wide rim canal around Lake Okeechobee and several secondary canals yielding hundreds of miles of fishable water.

Techniques and Tips

The best bass fishing techniques used on Lake Okeechobee are jigs with craw trailers and Flipping/pitching Texas-rigged plastics. During the summer, lipless crankbaits, big texas-rigged worms, and spinnerbaits can be most effective when targeting the bass following offshore bait schools. Flipping and pitching are always popular on Lake Okeechobee, but pitching baits into the lake’s grass tends to be one of the more productive techniques for catching trophy bass. Due to its shallow depths and weedy bottoms holding big bass, topwater plugs are also popular among bass anglers and effective here. Overall, fishing with live shiners is often the best way to consistently catch a trophy when bass fishing in Florida and has become an increasingly popular method on Lake O.

3. Lake Tohopekaliga (Lake Toho)

West Lake Tohopekaliga, commonly known as Lake Toho, is a 22,700-acre legendary lake known for its big largemouth bass and consistent numbers. Lake Toho is located southeast of Kissimmee in Central Florida and is the uppermost lake of the Kissimmee Chain. Like most Florida lakes, Lake Toho is abundant in vegetation to support its healthy bass population, including shallow grass flats, maidencane, natural bullrush, and hydrilla. Lake Toho is one of the most popular bass lakes in Florida and is extremely popular among tournament anglers. Lake Toho hosts numerous well-known bass fishing tournaments every year. According to Bassmaster magazine, Lake Toho is considered the most consistent bass lake in the country for producing both numbers and trophy bass.

Techniques and Tips

Some of the top spots for bass anglers to target on Lake Toho include its bulrush, lily pads, cattails, weed mats, Kissimmee grass, and fish attractors put in by The Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission. After heavy rains, the runoff sends voluminous flow throughout Lake Toho, creating a hot bass bite in its canals and tributaries. Some of the top techniques and lures used on Lake Toho to catch big bass include pitching craws and beavers or flipping Texas-rigged worms. Frogs, swim jigs, and spinnerbaits are also productive.

4. Lake Istokpoga

Lake Istokpoga, located in Highlands County,  is one of Florida’s biggest trophy bass lakes. The lake is located northwest of Lake O, and its base City is Lake Placid. Lake Istokpoga is one of the biggest trophy bass lakes in Florida. It’s a natural lake covering 27,692 acres, making it Florida’s fifth-largest lake. Lake Istokpoga averages 6 feet in depth and offers an array of shallow vegetation that big fish love, such as spatterdock, cattails, bulrush, eelgrass, peppergrass, and Kissimmee grass. Since its significant restoration effect in the early 2000s, Lake Istokpoga has consistently produced big bass. The Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission and its environmental partners drew Lake Istokpoga’s water levels down and removed over 1,300 acres of muck, allowing native vegetation to flourish. The best characteristic of Lake Istokpoga is its reputation of having quality bass throughout the year, not only during spawning season.

Techniques and Tips

The prime months to catch a spawning trophy bass on Lake Istokpoga are January through April. The best bass spots to target spawning largemouths are in cattail, bulrush, and other vegetation over the sandy bottom. October also tends to offer some of the best fishing for numbers. Flipping dark-colored soft plastics in red shad or Junebug into patches of emergent vegetation and areas of submerged vegetation is often effective. The local bass fishermen also find working topwaters and jerk baits near the edges of hydrilla beds effective, as well as targeting points and holes in the weed mats with a weedless frog. During the summer and fall, tempting bass with rattling lures in silver and gold is effective as the baitfish school in the open water areas in the north end of the lake. Also, a live shiner fished under a popping cork is almost always a go-to for big bass any time of the year.

5. Stick Marsh (Farm 13)

Stick Marsh, located west of Vero Beach, is part of the St. Johns Water Management Area (S.J.W.M.A.) and is home to some of the most considerable quantities of trophies of all the top Florida lakes. Stick Marsh, also known as Farm 13, covers only about 6,500 acres but is filled with a healthy bass population. Stick Marsh is filled with underwater structure, creating a significant advisory for boaters but is critical to the thriving Florida fish population and what makes Stick Marsh such a fantastic trophy largemouth bass fishery. Stick Marsh also has a strict catch and release policy for largemouths.

Techniques and Tips

Florida fishing on Stick Marsh is excellent throughout the year. During the midsummer time, look for largemouth bass distributed throughout the lake, focusing on the shallow tops of underwater levees and the woody structure along the southern and western shorelines. Often the intersections of the submerged north-south drainage canals hold bass in good numbers. Topwater fishing is popular among bass fishermen on Stick Marsh; top choices include walking style baits such as Zara spook and Storm chug-bug lures.

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6. Lake Ida Chain of Lakes

The Ida Chain is a highly diverse water system in South Florida, unique for being an urban fishery with extreme variation in the species that anglers can catch. It’s home to numerous exotic species, including peacocks and clown knife fish. The system is part of the E-4 canal system and is maintained by South Florida water management. S.F.W.M. opened this fishery, and the local government added boat ramps, creating an incredible game fish destination for freshwater anglers of all ages to enjoy. Anglers travel from all over the Us and more than 30 countries to fish for Peacocks and Clown Knifefish on Ida. Often the shoreline vegetation and shady areas near bridges will provide excellent places holding these popular Florida fish.

7. Harris Chain of Lakes

The nine Harris Chain of lakes located in Central Florida totals approximately 76,000 acres. Twenty years ago, these lakes hosted numerous national bass tournaments, including the B.A.S.S. Megabucks. After going through a significant restoration and restocking project, the Harris Chain has come back to life and is now full of trophies. The Harris Chain consistently produces excellent catches now, making it a top spot to experience a Central Florida fishing charter. The Harris Chain of lakes has a 15-foot ditch created by clay mining, which is now home to many good-sized bass. Anglers can catch many of these bass with artificial lures by trolling or casting deep diving crankbaits near this structure.

8. Miami Airport Lakes

The Miami airport lakes are located next to the Miami International Airport. The airport is often noisy and congested, but visitors can avoid this area by traveling west to the Airport lakes system. Many decent-sized largemouths are caught here, but Airport lakes is best known as one of the best spots to catch peacock bass. This canal system always creates a memorable Florida fishing experience with its numerous largemouths, quality peacocks, and popular saltwater fish species like snook and tarpon that make their way in here, adding to the adventure. The exotic butterfly peacock can be caught throughout the year, with the warmest days being their favorite. This area features a two-lane boat ramp that is paved and kept in excellent condition.

9. Butler Chain of Lakes

Butler is a 4,720-acre chain consisting of 11 interconnected lakes. The Butler Chain is relatively deep for a Florida lake, having 20-40 foot holes. It has abundant submerged vegetation, making it a top Florida bass lake for catching numbers. The floating weed mats and lily pads also are top spots to target as they create shade areas that fish love to hide under. Anglers on board a charter here are usually actively catching fish throughout the whole trip. This is also an excellent fishery to experience black crappie, redear sunfish, and bluegill. Butler is filled with crystal clear water and abundant wildlife, making it a true freshwater fishing adventure to experience.

10. Everglades Holiday Park

Florida bass fishing in Everglades Holiday Park provides anglers with the whole experience of consistent catches while witnessing nature’s wonders all around you while fishing. The park is part of the Everglades water conservation areas and amazes anglers with its diverse, thriving ecosystem below and above the water. The Everglades has some of the best bass fishing and consistently offers incredible topwater action, especially during the spring and summer months. This is a top destination for numbers offering a consistent bass bite throughout your trip along with incredibly scenic views. Live bait will always work best, but lures are often productive as well. Local bass anglers will usually start with a topwater lure in the early mornings. Spinnerbaits are also popular and chatterbaits when the wind is blowing harder than usual. Plastic worms are also a go-to any time of the year, especially on a calm hot day.

Florida Bass Fishing Honorable Mentions

Lake Kissimmee – the southernmost link of the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, covering 34,948 acres and is located 40 miles south of Orlando and 18 miles east of Lake Wales. The Kissimmee Chain lake has an extremely bass-friendly habitat consisting of expansive native grass, lily pads, cattail, bulrush, and hydrilla beds. Lake Kissimmee is one of the top lakes in Florida for catching trophy largemouth bass because of its perfectly fertile environment and good water quality.

St. Johns River – a known bass hub and is the longest river in Florida. It is one of the best spots for bass fishing in Florida, attracting anglers from all over. The river has a lazy 310-mile long flow, and located in the river system are significant bass fishing lakes, including Lake Poinsett and Lake George. The St Johns River is a highly desirable fishery because of its vast diversity ranging from monster bass to various saltwater species.

Lake George is the second-largest bass lake in the state, covering 46,000 acres, and is undoubtedly considered one of the great bass fishing lakes because of its thriving overall health. It’s not uncommon to catch six to nine pounders on a Lake George fishing charter.

Lake Seminole – about 46 fish species are thriving in Lake Seminole, including largemouths, crappie, catfish, striped bass, and chain pickerel. Its thick aquatic vegetation provides shelter and makes this fishery a healthy home to many different species.

Orange Lake – offers a wide array of fishing opportunities with its dense growth of vegetation. Orange lake has emergent grasses, deeper spatterdock, and hydrilla for anglers to catch black crappie, largemouths, bluegill, and redear sunfish.

Winter Haven Chain of Lakes – has a unique series of 16 lakes connected by canals, all navigable in Polk County. The largest ranger bass tournament ever held took place on the Winter Haven Chain.

Lake Tarpon – known as the “jewel of Pinellas County,” is a consistently productive spot for Florida bass fishing and a host to numerous tournament winners. Lake Tarpon is known as a secret bass honey hole to the St Petersburg area.

Tenoroc Fish Management Area – is considered a Central Florida hot spot and has reports of decent numbers of large bass being caught on artificial baits. The area is home to a thriving fish population of both bass and panfish.

Kingsley Lake – located east of Starke, Kingsley Lake isn’t a top spot for its numbers but has produced the most Hall of Fame catches and had the two heaviest TophyCatch entries making it an honorable mention for its quality.

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