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Florida Bass on the Fly

A couple weeks of fishing Sarasota Bay for redfish and snook as well as the Bahamas for bonefish and tarpon has been fun. But both destinations were easily trumped by a two-day outing on the stillwater of Lakeland, Florida. folks rave about this area for its bass and carp fishing, and for good reason. Lakeland is dotted by small, intimate lakes that can be fished conveniently by small watercraft or from shore. I was DIY-ing it and fished from dry land with affair amount of success.

These lakes produce well with top-water poppers, but I, as usual, was more interested in going subsurface with baitfish standbys like Clouser Minnows and Deceivers. I used both a floating line and an intermediate tip. Many we landed were in the 10 to 14 inch range. The grand daddy was a 16 inch bucketmouth that produced solid arials and big rod bends. There are bigger bass out there. Three to four pounders are common. But I was more than happy with what I brought in. The second day of fishing was cut short by the snap of my 7wt on a back cast with just a bit too much torque. Kind of a good thing, really. The thermometer was reading 91 degrees and I was thoroughly exhausted from days of fishing saltwater.

There is something special about fishing bass in their native territory - the heat and humidity, the vegetated structure, and always keeping your eye out for gators. I can't wait to come back!

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