Polk County Freshwater Fishing Report

Polk County Freshwater Fishing Report

Polk County Freshwater Fishing

 Around Lakeland, bass up to 25 inches this week at Tenoroc, about 8-9 pounds, in lakes 4, Fish Hook and Tern on Junebug worms and spinnerbaits, reports Brian Fleming. Several limits of bluegill and shellcracker in lakes 2, C and Hydrilla at Tenoroc on crickets and red worms. Anglers wading along cattails at Lake Parker catching 10-15 hand-sized bluegill, reports Stacy Roberts at Phillips Bait and Tackle at Saddle Creek Park. Bluegill bite slowed down at Saddle Creek. Speckled catfish biting after rains at Saddle Creek. And lakes 4, B, and Legs producing catfish at Tenoroc.


Limits of bluegill and shellcracker were commonplace over the weekend. Crickets and red worms were hot sellers. “I’m about out of crickets. They’re catching limits of bluegill just about everywhere,” said Ron Schelfo at Ron’s Tackle Box. “Pick your favorite lake.”

TRENTON BENNETT of Fort Meade, 4, reeled in this 12-pound, 4-ounce bass fishing with his grandfather, Joe Bennett, on Lake Kissimmee on July 12. Joe, from Camp Lester, hooked up with a topwater plug and handed the rod to Trenton. “Joe said he had to hold the back of his life jacket to keep him from going out of the boat,” said Joanne Cosce at Camp Lester. PRO BASS FISHERMEN and top local anglers are switching to fluorocarbon lines for casting soft plastics – worms, Flukes, and Senkos. Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon is a popular choice in 10-, 12-, 15- and 20-pound strengths, said Brent Howlett at Stone’s Outhouse. Fluorocarbon sinks, unlike monofilament.

Central Florida Hot Lakes

At Auburndale, super week for bluegill and shellcracker just about everywhere reports Ron Schelfo at Ron’s Tackle Box in Lake Alfred. Shellcracker bite continues on Lake Rochelle, where bank anglers using half-ounce egg sinkers to cast red worms over the ledge in spots where there’s no shoreline grass near the boat ramp. “There’s been hundreds of people going down there. It’s been great,” Schelfo said. Also, limits of shellcracker on red worms and grass shrimp in lily pads at Lake Mariana, reports Stacy Roberts. Easy limits of bluegill at lakes Haines, Alfred, and Ariana, said Schelfo. Bass was very tough this week, but Telly Smith boated 7 1/2-pounder to win Ron’s evening tournament on Lake Alfred last Thursday with teammate Alex Holmes.

In Winter Haven, bluegill creating some excitement on small city lakes and south chain, with lots of limits on crickets. Lily pads in south end of Lake Eloise one hot spot. Bass action tapered off with high heat and break in thundershowers.

Lake Hamilton, bluegill, and shellcracker “absolutely great” over the weekend with red worms and crickets, reports Gary Parramore at Chain O’ Lakes Bait and Tackle in Dundee. But only small boats can launch at public ramps. Bass up to 4-6 pounds perked up on medium-large wild shiners (6-7 inches long) on area lakes.

As well, as Lake Marion near Haines City, limits of bedding shellcracker and bluegill drew a crowd over the weekend with full moon on Friday, reports Ray Chase at Bannon’s Camp. He said 21 boats launched Saturday. Shellcracker moving back to deep shell bars between new and full moons. Lily pads “thick” with panfish, which are hitting grass shrimp, red worms, and crickets.

Lake Pierce, daily limits of bluegill and shellcracker in lily pads on red worms and crickets at North Cove and around islands near the fish camp, reports Jennings Camp. Bass decent, especially when it rains every day.

Even Lake Hatchineha, a couple of shellcracker beds located over the weekend with a full moon, and anglers pulled in limits on red worms.

Old Reliables

Big Lake Toho, giving up big stringers in tournaments on Saturday, but Sunday as bad as Saturday was good. Took about 24 pounds to win the Xtreme Series tournament. Fishermen casting topwater lures (chrome/black Boy Howdy or Devil’s Horse) around crisp hydrilla patches until the sun comes up, said Brent Howlett at Stone’s Outhouse. Water level up 8-10 inches in the past week, and anglers struggling for bites this week.

Always Lake Kissimmee, bluegill carried the weekend, although bass made good showing Saturday. There were two or three stringers over 20 pounds in tournaments on Saturday, but on Sunday, bass took a “nosedive,” said Leo Cosce at Camp Lester. Took just 13 pounds to win on Sunday. Cosce said there’s a lot of bass being caught on crankbaits and Rat-L-Traps. Trenton Bennett of Fort Meade, who’s 4, landed a 12-pound, 4-ounce bass fishing with his grandfather, Joe Bennett of Camp Lester, on July 13. Joe got the bite on a surface lure and handed the rod to Trenton. “That’s kid’s going to be hooked for life now. It’s great when you see that happen,” said Cosce. Limits of bluegill mixed with shellcracker around full moon in lily pads at Gobbler Ridge, Philadelphia Point, Lemon Point, and Brahma Island. But panfish bite tapered off since Sunday with half-limits at best, Cosce said. Early risers catching 20-25 specks in North Cove with jigs (chartreuse/white, white/white) along hydrilla edges. Water level up 4 inches in the past week, but off-colored.

Unforgotten Lake Walk-in-the-Water, the lake is usually overlooked for bluegill, but panfish have been active in lily pads. Bass is not worth the trip.

Crooked Lake at Babson Park, extra-large speckled perch cranked up last week and still going at night on minnows in open water, reports Cindy Ritchison at Bob’s Landing. “Some of my anglers said they were catching ‘hellaciously’ big specks they said had to be a pound and a half or 2 pounds, easy,” Ritchison said. Mark Collier and his crew bringing in 20-25 per trip, as is Gary Earnst of Plant City. Bass up to 2-3 pounds more common.

Frostproof, panfish anglers loading up on bluegill at Lake Reedy, reports Ron Schelfo. Lake Arbuckle is also good for bluegill in lily pads.

In the phosphate pits south of Mulberry and Bartow, things are about as quiet as they get with dog days setting in.

From Staff and Wire Reports

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Florida Peacock Bass

How To Catch Bigger Bass

How To Catch Bigger Bass

How To Catch Bigger Bass

Bass fishing, in general, is relatively beginner-friendly and a great way to get newbies hooked on the sport. But this article is for those who are ready to take their skills to the next level and track down big bass consistently. It’s one thing to stumble upon a large bass once in a while, but the goal is to find bigger fish consistently and intentionally.

Catching big bass involves knowing where to look, which equipment to use, and how to find them in any body of water.

How To Catch Big Bass

Where To Find Big Fish

Bass anglers know to look for a fishing spot that provides all the things a bass would look for, such as structure, cover, vegetation, and baitfish. The same rule applies to the biggest bass in the fishery, except they generally will find their spot deeper or in a hard-to-reach area. Therefore, the main difference between catching big bass and a smaller bass is the water depth or strategy. To start, an angler’s best bet is to look around 10 feet in depth for the giant bass, but this can vary. Generally, the shallow fish are the smaller males, and the fish at the deepest parts are too lethargic to chase, so the perfect targets are the fish at about 8-12 for depths. An important note is that a big bass of ten pounds can also be found in the same spots or depths as two pounders; the difference, in this case, would be the equipment and strategy used.

Fish near vegetation, banks, and dams like normal but use a bigger lure that will mainly attract big bass since the small ones typically won’t mess with it.

big bait for reaction strike to catch big bass
Fish Difficult Spots

One of the best big bass fishing techniques is to simply look for the hard-to-reach spots. Duck under trees, go through bushes, and anything else in the way, whether on land or a boat, to reach spots likely holding a huge bass. Big largemouth bass tend to lurk the dirtiest looking sections of water rather than the clear open water.

Big bass drive many anglers crazy because they will hide out in the middle of thick cover, not along the edge like some one to two-pounders. Therefore, anglers can’t be afraid to cast deep into the thick cover and vegetation to hook a larger fish. Anglers should throw a slow-moving lure when casting into dense coverage.

Your next trophy bass is likely hiding in the heavy vegetation near the edge of the pond or lake where most anglers don’t dare to go.

Location and Water Depth

Although anglers may catch larger bass in deep water, they are also commonly caught in the shallower water of your small local pond. A weedy, mucky pond in the middle of nowhere is probably holding some quality largemouth bass. Underfished areas leave plenty of time for fish to grow large throughout the year; this means the exact water depth won’t always be crucial. Overall, when trying to catch giant bass in your home waters, the location is the last thing to change. The first things to adjust are equipment and strategy to get a bite. That being said, some fisheries have all the right stuff for largemouth bass to grow large in good numbers and make for excellent fishing vacation destinations.

Trophy Bass Fishing Equipment

When trying to catch big bass and only hooking small ones, the gear is likely too small. There are times when the bigger bass will strike smaller baits, but using big bass baits will produce more consistently. This is often because big largemouth bass are wise enough to know that they should only waste their energy on baitfish that are worth it; in other words, they don’t want to expend more energy than they will take in. Anglers need to have the right lure, reel, and line size if they plan on catching their next trophy.


Best lures to use to catch big bass: Topwater frogs, plastic worms, crankbaits, jigs

The same techniques apply to bigger bass as they do for the smaller fish; the only difference is a larger lure. Using a larger lure means you will scare away the smaller fish. The little bass will leave the big bait alone because they know they can’t match up with it. When finesse fishing, most anglers use smaller lures to avoid spooking the fish, but in this case, anglers should use a larger bait to spook the smaller fish and target the bigger bass.

When fishing the dense vegetation, anglers will want to use a topwater frog or Texas-rigged worm, which are weedless and won’t get caught or drag too much in the cover. Using a big jig or crankbait and dragging it is the most consistent way to catch big bass.

The general rule of thumb, use a larger lure to catch larger fish. Big fish want to get a full meal if they are going to use their energy.

Rods and Reels

Anglers will likely have a tough time landing a big largemouth bass on a spinning reel since they won’t be able to size up the line enough. For this reason, a casting rod and reel are recommended when targeting largemouth bass over five pounds. This rig allows for a larger line and a better drag. Though, it’s important to note that most snapped lines or a broken rod tip are caused by human error. Regardless of your setup, make sure your drag is set correctly and not panic when you feel a nice fish at the end of your line.


When targeting big bass, it’s best to use a heavier line; however, it’s essential not to aimlessly size up and use a line that will only lead to frustration. The best strategy is to focus on line quality and maintenance. In most cases, anglers shouldn’t need a line heavier than a 10lb test when fishing for bass. Most professional guides will recommend using a monofilament line since it has a bit of flex and makes for a better hookset. A proper hook set is essential when dealing with big largemouth bass. Braided lines will usually work too, but may have an issue with visibility since they are denser. In general, most anglers should try whatever they will be able to fish confidently.

Other Pro Tips

Fish During The Day

One of the most known statements when it comes to fishing is anglers should fish during the early morning or evening. But fishing during these times may not be the best strategy when targeting the big bass. Some of the best professional bass anglers suggest fishing near the middle of the day. This isn’t a proven habit but is a hunch that larger bass tend to strike during the day while the smaller fish are most active during the early morning and evening. Since every fishery can have different outcomes and fish feeding at different times of day, it’s best to sample any time that works for you to get a feel for the area.

Slow down Your Presentation

Largemouth bass are opportunistic feeders who will sit back and wait for the right opportunity to strike bait fish. Also, big bass are not as fast and are in control, meaning they don’t have to take every opportunity to feed that comes their way.

For best results, it’s best to stay away from fast-moving baits such as spinners and opt for more in control and slower lures such as crankbaits, frogs, and heavy jigs.

Slowing down your presentation allows the bass more time to feel out the situation. Using big baits with a slow presentation is a recipe for success that draws strikes from big fish. However, that doesn’t mean fast-moving lures won’t ever produce a reaction strike from a quality-sized bass.

set the hook on big bass

Key Points To Land Your Biggest Bass

  • Use larger lures and present them slower than usual. You’ll generally want to avoid spinnerbaits and swimbaits and go with topwater frogs, worms, crankbaits, or jigs.
  • Anglers may have success in their usual spots using big baits and a slow presentation to attract the bigger fish in the area.
  • Don’t be afraid to go in the hard-to-reach areas, thick vegetation spots, or murky-looking water.
glide baits and big swimbaits for big bass

Best Places To Catch Bigger Bass

3. Lake Fork

Lake Fork is the most known lake in Texas, and for a good reason. Records show that a majority of the top 50 biggest bass in Texas come from this lake. This is a great reservoir that provides a thriving habitat for bass to grow large.

2. Lake Okeechobee

The Big O is the most known big bass body of water and provides fishermen from around the world with a top-notch fishing experience throughout the year. The size of this lake can be overwhelming for those unfamiliar, but it is a place every bass fisherman should experience. The quality and quantity of fish produced here are legendary.

1. Lake Toho

Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Florida, offers some of the best trophy bass fishing in the country. This lake is known for its consistency and producing more big bass than any other fishing lake. According to Bassmaster magazine, Lake Toho is “the most consistent lake in the country for producing both numbers and size of largemouths.”

Florida-strain largemouth bass generally grow larger than their counterparts in the north. Check out the complete list of top Big Bass lakes in Florida for a fishing adventure of a lifetime.

big baits for big bass-gizzard shad
Kissimmee Lake State Park

Kissimmee Lake State Park

Kissimmee Lake State Park

Lake Kissimmee State Park is the perfect place to take the family or explore the abundant plant life and wildlife inhabiting the area through its numerous hiking trails and lakes. There’s also a shaded picnic area with a pavilion and picnic tables. Visitors can get the full experience by spending the night at Lake Kissimmee State Park, which offers both primitive campsites and full-facility campsites. There are tons of stuff to keep the family entertained in the State Park and nearby in the Lake Wales area.


Lake Kissimmee State Park is a scenic state park located 15 miles east of Lake Wales in Central Florida. The state park covers 5,930 acres and contains tons of wild flora and fauna, creating a thriving ecosystem. Lake Kissimmee State Park surrounds Lake Kissimmee, Lake Rosalie, and Tiger Lake. 

The Central Florida state park is known for its vast floodplain, prairie, forest, hammock, and Pine Flatwoods. In addition to the plants, numerous animals such as white-tailed deer, incredible birds, bobcats, and more call Lake Kissimmee State Park home. Visitors can enjoy countless outdoor activities such as boating and fishing in the picturesque lakes in the state park.

What To Do At Lake Kissimmee State Park

Lake Kissimmee State Park provides visitors with the ultimate outdoor experience. It’s the perfect place to go boating, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing in the nearby Lake Rosalie, Lake Tiger, and Lake Kissimmee.

Enjoy over 13 miles of hiking trails and bike trails winding around freshwater marshes and pine forests for beautiful wildlife viewing. Lake Kissimmee State Park also has six miles of equestrian trails.

Interesting and entertaining living history demonstrations take place on the weekends at Lake Kissimmee State Park.

Lake Kissimmee State Park showcase white tailed deer
Lake Kissimmee Cow Hunters Camp

The Lake Kissimmee Cow Camp is open during the fall and spring and involves and cracker cow hunter, as the pioneers were called, who stays in character while giving a tour of his campground and answering questions. The cow hunter has a pot of coffee over an open fire, an outfitted wagon, and a herd of cracker cattle. The cracker cattle are descendants of the cattle first brought to Florida by the Spanish in the 1500s and are a fun sight for visitors with their big Texas-style horns.

Lake Kissimmee State Park cow camp
Kayaking and Canoeing

Lake Kissimmee State Park makes it easy for visitors to rent canoes or kayaks and paddle along the shoreline of the nearby lakes. Kissimmee State park also has a challenging 11-mile paddle, known as the Buster Loop Trail, which combines a canal, two creeks, and three lakes all in a loop.

Fishing Kissimmee State Park

Lake Kissimmee State Park is on the shores of the beautiful Lakes Kissimmee, Tiger, and Rosalie, offering some of the best bass fishing in the state. A boat ramp in Lake Kissimmee State Park provides direct access to the famous Lake Kissimmee. Anglers can catch all of the most popular fish species in Central Florida here, including largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, and chain pickerel.

Lake Kissimmee State Park two loop trails

Lake Kissimmee

Lake Kissimmee is surrounded by the beautiful Lake Kissimmee State Park and is the fourth lake of the Kissimmee Chain. Central Florida is known by anglers around the world for its incredible bass fishing, and Lake Kissimmee doesn’t disappoint. Lake Kissimmee has a strong reputation for its trophy largemouth bass due to its expanse of thriving vegetation. Lake Kissimmee and other lakes in the Kissimmee Chain attract visitors worldwide to experience its incredible fishing on a charter with a professional captain throughout the year.

Florida Fishing Kissimmee

Tiger Lake and Lake Rosalie

Tiger Lake covers 2086 acres and has three main trails which provide access to pine Flatwoods, oak scrub, sandhill, and hardwood swamp. The lake has plenty of healthy vegetation holding fish and a loop trail to explore. Tiger and Rosalie lakes both specialize in largemouth bass, black crappie, and bluegill.

Lake Rosalie is a hidden gem covering 4,578 acres with excellent cover. This lake has its fair share of trophy bass and has relatively little fishing pressure adding to its incredible fishing opportunities. The area is known for its excellent bass fishing in the spring and top-notch crappie fishing in the winter.

Chris Davy

Bank Fishing

Visitors without a boat can still enjoy the same fishing opportunities of Lake Kissimmee State Park through its numerous canal banks, dam, and marina.

Techniques and Tips

Look around bridge pilings for largemouth bass using deep diving crankbaits or plastic worms. When crappie fishing, look for deep cool water, especially when the temperatures are warmer, using minnows or jigs. During the bass spawning season in the late winter and spring, anglers often have luck in the shallows with plastic worms, spinnerbaits, jerk baits, or craws.


This Central Florida area is a favorite state park for many reasons, and its abundant wildlife is undoubtedly one of those reasons. The site has so much wildlife thriving in its natural habitat for the family to experience. Visitors may come across bald eagles, sandhill cranes, white-tailed deer, turkeys, snail kites, crested caracara, and even bobcats in Lake Kissimmee State Park. Lake Kissimmee State Park has 12 natural communities holding over 30 listed species of fauna and flora. Some of the botanical bounties in Kissimmee state park include butterfly orchids, sawgrass, delicate mosses, fetterbush, gallberry, colorful fields of lotus, and pickleweed.

Things To Do Near Lake Wales

After exploring all there is to do and see in Lake Kissimmee State Park, visitors can experience some of the other adventures the Lake Wales area has to offer nearby. Lake Wales is close to both coasts for its beaches and is nearby the Central Florida theme parks. Some of the less known but exciting things to do in the Lake Wales area include visiting Bok Tower Gardens, Spook Hill, Hollis Garden, Wonder House, and the Polk Theatre. Lake Wales has something for everyone with tons of golf courses, museums, and outdoor parks to explore.

Camping At Lake Kissimmee State Park

Lake Kissimmee State Park provides some of the best camping in Florida. All campsites in Lake Kissimmee State Park are shaded by oak hammocks and separated by vegetation for privacy.

The sprawling live oak trees provide perfect shade and shelter to the campsites, and its secluded location also offers beautiful starry skies.

Full Facility Camping

Lake Kissimmee State Park has 60 campsites with electric and water hookups. Sewage hookups are not provided, but there is a dump station nearby. The full-facility campsites are located in the area with the oak hammock, making it one of the most scenic camping areas in any of the Florida state parks.

Primitive Camping Facility

Lake Kissimmee State Park has two campsites that are a part of the primitive camping facility. These campsites are located along the 13 miles of hiking trails in the state park. Those who prefer primitive tent camping need to backpack everything in, including water.

RV Camping

There are beautiful campgrounds within Lake Kissimmee State Park with electricity, water, and shade. Most of these sites are surrounded by natural buffers in the state park for a bit of seclusion. There are no septic hookups, but there is a dump station at the entrance of the campground.

Youth Camping Area

Lake Kissimmee State Park offers a youth camping area that can accommodate up to 50 people. There are two primitive campsites, both holding 25 people for youth camping at Lake Kissimmee State Park. Most of the camping areas are shaded by beautiful live oaks off the beaten path. The camping area has restrooms, cold showers, and a fire pit.

visitors enjoy boating and so many trails Lake Kissimmee State Park
Lake Kissimmee State Park  cow camp and cow hunters
lake wales park entrance and lakes kissimmee

Kissimmee State Park History

The Europeans arrived in Florida in the 1500s but didn’t have their presence felt until the 1800s. During the Civil War, the park area was used for raising cattle which were traded with Cuba for supplies or shipped to the Confederate Army. The cattle became the primary industry after the war, which has continued to the present day. The state of Florida purchases the 5030 acres of land in 1969 to use as a State Park. Lake Kissimmee State Park became open to the public in August 1977. In 1997 an additional 900 acres of the park was purchased and added to the western boundary.

Lake Kissimmee State Park sandhill cranes
Lake Kissimmee State Park dark skies and oak hammock

Best Family Fishing Vacations

Best Family Fishing Vacations

The Best Family Fishing Vacations

There’s no better way to spend time with family than a peaceful day on the water enjoying the great outdoors. Not to mention the added excitement on your loved one’s faces when they feel the hard pull of a fish at the end of their line.

After many years in the industry and visiting numerous places around the United States, it has currently come down to Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas for offering the best family fishing vacation opportunities. The best family fishing vacation spots offer top-notch fishing opportunities and plenty for the family to do nearby while not on a fishing trip.

Family fishing vacations are a great way to escape the usual chaotic tourist attractions and spend quality time together while relaxing in the sun and hooking into some exciting catches.

This article will break down everything you need to know to plan the ultimate family vacation for both freshwater and saltwater anglers.

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wild west town
Best Family Vacation Freshwater Fishing Spots

Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Florida

Presque Isle Bay in Erie, PA

Oil Creek in Oil City, PA

Lake Fork in Texas

Best Family Vacation Saltwater Fishing Spots

Cape Canaveral, Florida

Galveston, Texas

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third best fishing town
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lake trout family fish vacations

Florida Family Fishing Vacation

Florida is often one of the first spots that comes to mind when someone thinks of fishing or vacation. This tropical paradise and “fishing capital of the world” is undoubtedly at the top of the list of best family fishing destinations. Florida fishing is ideal for every style, age, and skill level because it has endless fishing opportunities available all year. Whether you want a shot at catching a monster trophy bass, a Florida tarpon, or a huge sailfish, there is a fishing charter available for you and your family.

Booking a family trip on the water is a refreshing change of pace compared to the hectic theme parks and other tourist spots.

The best part about Florida is it’s basically a fishing playground. You can choose almost any city in Florida, and there will be some kind of fishing trip available in that area, whether it be freshwater, inshore, or offshore.

fishing license ahead family trip

Best FL Freshwater Family Fishing Spot

Lake Toho

Targeted Species: Largemouth bass, Black Crappie

Lake Tohopekaliga, commonly known as Lake Toho, is a 22,700-acre lake in Kissimmee, Fl. It is among the most famous trophy bass lake in the country because of its consistency in size and numbers.

Lake Toho is an extremely scenic lake providing great wildlife spottings and birdwatching.

Lake Toho has hosted numerous bass tournaments, the most known being when Elite Bassmaster Pro, Dean Rokas, caught the record for heaviest five-bass limit ever right here on West Lake Toho. Largemouth bass are the most commonly targeted fish on this lake and attract anglers worldwide, but the black crappie fishing is a close second. Other panfish commonly targeted here are bluegill and redear sunfish.

Families Over 4 People

There another reason why Lake Toho is a unique destination for your family fishing vacation. Toho is one of the only bass fishing lakes in the area that provides private charters for larger groups. The average bass fishing charter can fit 3 or 4 passengers max, causing families over 4 to split into two or more boats. Bassonline now offers pontoon trips that allow you to comfortably fish with your family of over four people on a private boat catered just to you.

Fishing Seasons

Another great thing about Florida is that it’s a year-round fishery! Anglers can catch excellent Florida bass all over the state during any month of the year, and Lake Toho is one of the most consistent lakes around with its year-round fishing. However, the best time will be during the spring months for those going after a giant trophy spawning bass. Central Florida is an exceptional bass fishing town where some locals swear the winter is an excellent time to go. Even during the peak of summer, anglers can catch bass here. Though it’s advised to book a morning fishing adventure in the summer due to the heat, and the bite may slow down as the temperature rises throughout the day.

The best time for black crappie on Toho is in February. Usually, the best time for bluegill, chain pickerel, and redear sunfish is from May and June during their spawn.

Area Things To Do

This fishery makes for a top-notch family fishing trip with constant excitement during the trip and an exciting surrounding area for in-between fishing adventures. Lake Toho park at the north end of the lake offers hiking trails, picnic areas, grills, restrooms, and a splash pad playground for children. Some popular attractions nearby the lake include Gatorland, Wild Florida safari Drive-Thru Park, Kissimmee Lakefront Park, and Airboat Tours.

The theme parks in Orlando are within 20 minutes from Toho, making it close enough to tie that into your trip if desired but far enough to experience a true outdoor adventure away from the crowds.

family vacay florida fishing vacation

Saltwater Fishing

Cape Canaveral

Inshore Targeted Species: Snook, Tarpon, Redfish, Spotted Seatrout

Cape Canaveral, located on the East coast of Florida about an hour from Lake Toho, is undoubtedly among the top on the list of best spots for a family fishing vacation in Florida if your goal is to include some saltwater action to your itinerary.

Your family fishing trip in Cape Canaveral can mean exploring the shallow mangrove flats in the Banana River or the Indian River Lagoon targeting Florida’s top saltwater gamefish. There is a diverse amount of aquatic life in the coastal waters of Cape Canaveral, but the most commonly targeted fish include tarpon, snook, redfish, and spotted sea trout. The Banana River is a shallow waterway that provides optimal sight fishing conditions for an authentic inshore fishing experience. Your kids will never forget seeing a redfish tailing for the first time.

Another favorite for anglers on a family fishing adventure is the spotted seatrout which is often hooked in the Indian River Lagoon system throughout the year. Trout are often a favorite target for families because of the abundance of this fish and its good taste. Seatrout are typically a good starter fish for little anglers or novices.

The fish that often has the family reminiscing on at the dinner table are the hard-fighting snook and tarpon. These fish will always give you a run for your money, taking off as soon as they are hooked and doing everything they can to getaway. Tarpon especially are a fun sight as they make their extreme acrobatic leaps. Summer and Fall are generally prime times for tarpon in Cape Canaveral.

Offshore Targeted Species: Grouper, Snapper, Mahi Mahi

Head offshore a few miles, and you’ll reach the reefs and wrecks full of tasty fish such as grouper and snapper. Anglers can catch numerous different snapper species nearshore, including Mangrove, Lane, Mutton, and Yellowtail, all of which taste great and make for an exciting moment. Where you find snapper, you will likely find grouper, which grow to massive sizes here! You may encounter different grouper species, including Gag, Snowy, Scamp, and Red. Other nearshore species include Cobia, King Mackerel, Tilefish, and some sharks.

Travel further away from the coastline into the open ocean for a shot at a giant Florida pelagic. This area is a playground for huge game fish such as Mahi Mahi, Blackfin Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna, Swordfish, Blue Marlin, White Marlin, and Sailfish.

Area Things To Do

Cape Canaveral offers tons of outdoor experiences, from fishing tours to dolphin cruises. However, Kennedy Space Center is usually the go-to thing for families to experience while visiting the Space Coast. Visitors will get behind-the-scenes access and plenty of interactive exhibits at the space center. Items on display at Kennedy Space Center include moon rocks, equipment, space suits, photos, and accounts from those who have worked in the program.

There’s also plenty more to see between fishing adventures, such as the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, the Exploration Tower, Manatee Sanctuary Park, Banana River Aquatic Preserve, and Brevard Zoo.

The area has many restaurants and cafes to check out, such as Cafe Monte Carlo, Tropic Ice Cream, and more in the Historic Cocoa Village.

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rental boats for family fishing vacation

Pennsylvania Family Fishing Vacation

Pennsylvania has more than 85,000 miles of streams and rivers, 4,000 inland lakes, and the world-famous Lake Erie, which covers 470,000 acres. One of the best parts of Pennsylvania is the wide variety of popular game fish it supports. The streams and creeks are home to rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout. The rivers are home to smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, yellow perch, catfish, pike, and bluegill. This means that Pennsylvania has something to offer every type of angler and is perfect for all skill levels to experience. There is also tons of fun stuff to do, making PA one of the best family fishing vacation spots around.

With the endless bodies of water across the state, it’s hard to find a place where you can’t fish. However, due to its variety of species and annual consistency, Lake Erie at Presque Isle Park has earned the number one spot for bass and walleye fishing in PA.

king salmon capital family fishing vacations

Best PA Freshwater Family Fishing Spot

Presque Isle Park, Lake Erie

Targeted Species: Smallmouth bass, Walleye, Largemouth bass, Steelhead, Yellow Perch, Lake Trout

Lake Erie, PA, supports various healthy fish populations, including smallmouth bass, walleye, steelhead, salmon, crappie, yellow perch, bluegill, sunfish, pike, muskie, and jumbo lake trout. All of these fish species thrive in both quality and quantity in Lake Erie.

Lake Erie is most known for its incredible smallmouth bass fishing charters. Giant smallmouth bass are attracted to Presque Isle Bay which has become their premier spawning grounds. The amount of panfish in these waters makes this a highly young kid-friendly fishery.

Fishing Seasons

If you are trying to plan your fishing vacation around the smallmouth bass spawn, then late April through August would be the best time when the lake begins to warm. This is generally when the sport fishing season would occur, targeting the popular game fish such as smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, lake trout, steelhead, and walleye. Walleye trips are the next most popular after smallmouth trips. The best months for walleye sport fishing on Lake Erie are June, July, August, and September. Fishing for jumbo lake trout heats up in April but is best in May. Finally, steelhead fishing on Lake Erie is best during the fall months when they gather at the creek’s mouth when the water temperatures cool down.

Area Things To Do

Various attractions and waterfront dining surround Lake Erie, PA. In Erie, PA, Presque Isle Bay is one of the best spots for family fishing vacations because of its lively, fun atmosphere around the lake during the fishing season. Presque State Park is a 3,200-acre park with beautiful beaches, hiking trails, swimming, and marinas. Presque Park is also a great spot to take in the beautiful vibes of the natural world and is perfect for birdwatchers. Some popular attractions near Erie include the Erie Zoo, the Maritime Museum, Splash Lagoon, and Tom Ridge Environmental Center.

catching huge fish on family fishing vacations

Oil Creek Trout Fishing Near Oil City

Erie won the title for best PA family fishing vacation spot overall. Still, it’s necessary to mention the incredible trout fishing spots in Pennsylvania that offer just as excellent fishing vacations. There are numerous creeks and streams to go trout fishing in the state, including Neshannock Creek, Slippery Rock Creek, and Youghiogheny River. But the best is Oil Creek, near Oil City. Trout fishing is unique because of the techniques used and the opportunity for wading trips.

Anglers can enjoy fishing this beautiful freshwater creek with the jaw-dropping mountain scenery surrounding them. According to experts, the best fishing happens below Pine Creek, downstream towards Allegheny River. The delayed harvest sections of the creek starting at the bridge of the Petroleum Center are open all year, but the spring and Fall are usually the best times for a family trip to Oil Creek.

Area Things To Do

Oil Creek State Park has a lot to explore within itself. The tranquil, scenic park is among the most historic state parks in PA. Some of the most popular things to do in the state park are the Petroleum Center, Miller Falls, Drake Well Museum, the Gerard Trail, Pioneer Falls, Oil Creek and Titusville Railroad, and Coal Oil Johnny House.

There are also numerous authentic places to eat and explore outside of the state park in Oil City. The nearby town is full of quaint shops, eateries, and places to learn about the area’s rich history in the oil industry. Oil City, Pa is a small but beautiful upcoming tourist attraction that is certainly worth a visit if you choose PA for your family vacation.

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striped bass family fishing

Texas Family Fishing Vacation

Texas is known for many things, and excellent bass fishing is undoubtedly high on the list. There are tons of fantastic bass fishing lakes to choose from in Texas, but the top of our list is Lake Fork.

Texas is also home to the Guadalupe River, the only year-round trout fishery in the state stocked with brown trout and rainbow trout.

This great state also offers top-notch saltwater fishing opportunities for anglers of all ages. The Texas Coast has coastal inlets, protected bays, nearshore reefs, and the deep Gulf of Mexico for your family to experience catching the most sought-after saltwater game fish in Texas.

fishing vacation rentals

Best TX Freshwater Family Fishing Spot

Lake Fork

Targeted Species: Largemouth bass, White bass, Catfish, Crappie, and Sunfish.

Lake Fork is the most known reservoir in Texas and attracts many visiting anglers every year for a shot at its trophy bass. Lake Fork is most famous for its largemouth bass fishing, but anglers can also catch white bass, catfish, crappie, and sunfish such as bluegill. 

Over 65% of the Top 50 largest bass in Texas and over half of the fish entered in the Toyota ShareLunker Program came from Lake Fork. In addition, this fishery holds 15 of the top 20 state record bass ever caught, making this the perfect place for a shot at your next personal best trophy bass on the local charter boats.

Crappie fishing is the next most targeted species and is generally good, especially under the lake’s bridges and in standing timber. Lake Fork is one of the top family fishing destinations because of its endless fun fishing opportunities for all ages.

Fishing Seasons

In general, Texas is a year-round bass fishing destination, but December through February is often the slowest time due to cold water temperatures. Largemouths are easier to catch early in the year in Texas when spawning brings them to the shallow waters—making spring the best time of year for your annual fishing trip in Texas. March is usually the best month for anglers to catch a trophy-size largemouth bass while on Texas bass fishing charters. Mid to late Fall will still offer excellent bass fishing, too. But come June, most of the bass will have started moving into deeper water. However, the summertime doesn’t mean the fishing season is over; in fact, it’s considered an excellent time by any experts. The warm water conditions increase the fish’s metabolism causing them to feed more often. Local charter boats are certainly still catching fish during the summer, but they usually have to fish deeper water areas.

Area Things To Do

Lake Fork is a well-maintained reservoir offering four public boat ramps for anybody who brings their boat or uses local boat rentals. Local lake accommodations include motels, cabins, RV sites, and tent camping. Also, there are local tackle shops, gas pumps, convenience stores, and restaurants all nearby. The area also has fishing piers to enjoy the endless fishing opportunities all day, every day.

Other local attractions include the Texas Zoo and Gator Park, Grand Saline Salt Palace, Mineola Historical Museum, and Coleman Park.

striped bass family fishing adventure

Best Saltwater Fishing Spot


Inshore Targeted Species: Speckled Trout, Redfish, and Flounder

The Texas Coast is among the best inshore fishing spots in the country, with its numerous bays and jetties. Specifically, among the best family fishing vacation spots to enjoy Texan saltwater fishing is Galveston, Texas. This area is full of salt marshes holding Speckled Trout, Redfish, Flounder, and much more of your favorite fresh gulf seafood. As the Texas temperatures start to drop in the Fall, most popular inshore fish species begin to school up along the Texas coast. East Bay and Trinity Bay are two areas north of Galveston that offer incredible inshore fishing all year, but especially in the Fall. Anglers can have a shot at Speckled Trout and Redfish during any time of the year here.

Offshore Targeted Species: Cobia, Kingfish, Mahi Mahi, Sharks, Blackfin Tuna

Galveston is also one of the best spots to launch big sport fishing boats heading out for a nearshore or offshore fishing trip. Nearshore fishing adventures usually take you several miles into the Gulf with land still in sight. While on a nearshore fishing trip, you and your family can catch fish species such as Cobia, Kingfish, Spanish Mackerel, Wahoo, Sharks, and Mahi Mahi near artificial reefs and shipwrecks.

Offshore fishing generally takes you between 60 and 100 miles out at sea to go after the largest sea predators. While on an offshore fishing trip, anglers can catch fish species such as Blackfin Tuna, Ling, giant Jacks, and Mahi Mahi.

Area Things To Do

Galveston, Texas, is covered with beautiful beaches and has a historic downtown that’s fun to explore. Galveston offers tons of sightseeing, fishing, birdwatching, water sports, excellent food, and interesting museums. Some popular attractions include Bishops Palace, Moody Gardens and Aquarium Pyramid, Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, Texas Seaport Museum, and The Bryan Museum. The Moody Mansion is another “must-see” that is registered on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a 28,000-square foot home built in 1895 with incredible interior features and a host to many local events and programs.

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Planning A Fishing Vacation

Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas all offer multiple spots that would make for an excellent family vacation that involves incredible fishing and tons of other fun activities. When planning the fishing portion of your vacation, it’s best to consider the ages and interests of kids and others to help decide which trip is best. 

Freshwater fishing is fun for all ages and skill levels. It’s a great place for kids and beginners to start, and it’s an excellent place for experienced anglers to catch their personal best or experience a new area. Inshore fishing is still suitable for all ages and skill levels who want to experience a saltwater trip. Inshore fishing offers plenty of action to keep most non-avid anglers interested but usually not as much as a bass fishing trip. Offshore fishing is usually best for more experienced anglers and not always best for kids since it involves longer trips and less action. Though, it could be an excellent trip for those who simply want to relax and spend time on the water. Offshore trips are not recommended for those prone to seasickness either.

Overall, there are plenty of options in each of these states, and every Bassonline trip can be catered to your wants and needs. Your local fishing expert will be able to take you to all the best spots and tailor your trip to your interests. Most importantly, a vacation that involves fishing with your loved ones is a great bonding experience that will create lifetime memories for everyone

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Okeechobee Lake Water Levels

Okeechobee Lake Water Levels

Lake Okeechobee Water Levels 2021

Lake Okeechobee

The Big O

Lake Okeechobee provides a natural habitat for fish, wading birds, and other wildlife. It’s also a primary component of flood control systems and the water supply for South Florida. Okeechobee attracts boating and recreation enthusiasts every year from around the world. It is also home to a number of sport and commercial fisheries.

This famous body of water offers incredible bass fishing, a beautiful ecosystem, and scenic natural views. But more importantly, Lake Okeechobee and its wetlands center a much larger watershed that stretches from the Kissimmee River through the Florida Everglades into Florida Bay. Lake Okeechobee is the heart of the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades system.

Lake Okeechobee Lake Levels

The water levels on Lake Okeechobee are primarily dependent on rain and the Kissimmee River Basin, the main water supply for Lake O. The water level conditions on Lake Okeechobee will fluctuate about 3 to 5 feet per year.

Falling Water Level

The Big O water levels range from 14 to 16 feet above sea level during the winter. The water level during the winter on Okeechobee will consistently fall from January to June. Farming and evaporation are the main reasons for the changes in depth during the dryer time of year.

Lake Okeechobee Water Rising

The water levels of Lake Okeechobee during the summer ranges from 12 to 15 feet above sea level. Due to afternoon rain showers and hurricanes, the summer months are when the Lake Okeechobee water levels rise the quickest. The runoff caused by rain in the Kissimmee Valley, the land area between Orlando and Okeechobee, is the main reason for rising water levels in Okeechobee.

Click to see the live feed showing the current Okeechobee lake levels on the US Army Corp of Engineers Website.

This feed is provided via satellite pump and water flows, including all depth changes. It shows the current water levels in Lake Okeechobee, as it is constantly updating with autocratic water level conditions.

Lake Okeechobee water levels

Herbert Hoover Dike

The lake provides flood protection with the Herbert Hoover Dike (HHD), a 143-mile earthen dam surrounding the lake. The dike reduces impacts from flooding caused by high lake levels for most areas of South Florida.

water levels in Okeechobee

Okeechobee Health and Estuaries

In recent decades, the lake’s health was threatened by excessive nutrients from agricultural and urban activities in the lake’s watershed, by harmful high and low water levels, and with the spread of exotic vegetation. When levels have gotten high especially after past hurricanes, it was lowered via coastal estuaries. The lake’s discharges are very damaging to the estuaries.

Today, Lake O is used to store water from a 4,000-square-mile basin north of the lake. Historically, there were much more natural storage areas in central and south Florida. Today, most of these wetlands have been developed, leaving fewer places to store rain. Because of this, it is stored in Okeechobee. The Hoover Dike allows for additional water storage. But, this extra water is harmful to the lake’s ecology.

Big O fish habitat and rain level
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Best Lake Okeechobee Boat Rentals

Best Lake Okeechobee Boat Rentals

Famous Lake Okeechobee in South Central Florida offers anglers the opportunity at a freshwater fishing adventure of a lifetime. Nothing is better than bass fishing in the largest lake in Florida, known for its trophy fish.

Lake Okeechobee is full of fishing guides that come with their bass boats, gear, and tackle. But luckily for anglers who are ready to venture in a different way, the giant lake also has the option for anglers to rent a boat large enough to fit a group but small enough to cruise this peaceful lake with fishing success.

Lake Okeechobee has numerous access points and not many places to rent a boat; here’s the breakdown of the best options around southern Lake O. And for those closer to the northern end of the lake, its less than an hour drive to the south end where all the boat rental action currently takes place.

South florida rental boats

Rent A Boat On Okeechobee

South florida rental boatsBassonline Boat Rentals

Nothing tops a bass fishing adventure with a big family or larger groups; unfortunately, bass boats cannot take more than three or four people at one time. Luckily, aside from being a professional charter service with fishing guides and bass boats, Bassonline now offers pontoon boat rentals in Belle Glade, the southeast end of Lake Okeechobee. The Bassonline pontoon boats typically fit up to ten people, making it possible for the whole family and your entire group of friends to enjoy a fun fishing excursion together. Belle Glade is conveniently located to West Palm Beach and within an hour to Okeechobee, Fl. Belle Glade is the closest launch point location for anybody coming from south Florida areas such as Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

fishing guides lake o More Information

Pontoon rental boats on Lake Okeechobee come with an experienced mate and high-quality gear and tackle, everything your group needs for a productive day of fishing this great Florida lake. All Bassonline boat rentals have a bimini top for shade and comfort during your fishing adventure. Anglers can rent a boat on famous Lake O for 4, 6, or 8 hours. When booking your trip online, there will be default start times, which can easily be changed at your request for a time that works best for you and your group.

lake okeechobee boat rentals-jon boatsFishing Lake O On Your Pontoon Boats

Lake Okeechobee is the second-largest freshwater body in the contiguous United States. It covers 450,000 acres and has endless spots for largemouth bass and panfish to be hiding. The most efficient way to get accustomed to this giant lake with success is to go with an expert. Your local mate can answer any questions about the area and provide insider recommendations on restaurants, accommodations, water depth, and especially on learning the habits of the giant Okeechobee bass. Whenever you are visiting South or Central Florida with a group of friends and family, pontoon rental boats will be ready for you to explore this famous lake and experience its incredible fishing.


Florida Boat rentals


Jolly Roger Marina

Jolly Roger Marina offers boat rentals out of Clewiston, the southwest end of Lake Okeechobee. The Marina has pontoon boats, Trolling Motor Boats, and Skiffs to rent and cruise the big O.

Central Florida boat rentals

Roland Martin Marina

This Clewiston marina offers V-bottom rental boats, Pontoon boats, and Strato Bass boats to rent out of the southwest end of Lak Okeechobee in Clewiston.

South Florida Boat rentals

North Okeechobee

At this time, there are no boat rentals in Okeechobee, Fl. Luckily it’s only a short drive from Okeechobee City on the North to Belle Glade on the south end. There are a few airboat tours available in Okeechobee. A couple of the places that do airboat tours are Eagly Bay and Okeechobee Airboat Rides.

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Experience Lake Okeechobee

However you decide to fish and cruise on the famous Lake Okeechobee, it will be an experience to remember. The Big O has endless adventures waiting for you between its incredible fishing, scenic views, and beautiful wildlife. While fishing Lake Okeechobee on your boat rental, you will have the opportunity to catch famous Florida trophy bass, Bluegill, Crappie, Gar, and Catfish. Visit the largest lake in Florida, the second-largest in the United States, with your whole group for the chance at a true freshwater fishing adventure creating the ultimate bonding moment!

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