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Florida is one of the most popular states to which bass anglers flock and the reason is simple: The bass fishing in Florida is as good as, or better than, the bass fishing everywhere else. It is a Mecca for those anglers who pursue big bass, but its lakes and rivers can also kick out high numbers of bass on any given day, so it's also popular among anglers who just want to catch a few fish. There are some lures that help anglers catch more, and bigger, bass in Florida.
If big bass are the goal, there is no better bait in Florida than a live shiner fished with or without a bobber. Shiners are at their best in the winter and early spring, when bass begin to head to the shallow water to spawn. Use stout baitcasting equipment and hook the shiner just beyond the dorsal fin. Then, let it swim around on its own. A live shiner is most effective when fished around vegetation.
When rigging a soft jerkbait, the hook should be buried in the bait so the point does not come out. As such, soft jerkbaits are a nearly totally weedless lure, which gives anglers the ability to effectively fish in heavy cover. Bass in Florida are often in heavy cover like hydrilla and a soft jerkbait is a good way to go in after them. Best to cast the bait to open areas of the vegetation, or areas that are especially thick, and work it back to the boat with a twitching motion. Soft jerkbaits can be fished on the surface of the water or below it.
If there is wind roiling the surface of Florida waters, a spinnerbait should be your first choice. Spinnerbaits flash and vibrate to attract fish and are especially effective when fished around timber and vegetation. It is important to vary the speed at which you retrieve the bait. Some bass will crush a spinnerbait that is retrieved so quickly it makes a bulge on the surface of the water, while others prefer a bait that is retrieved slowly through vegetation.
Hydrilla is a common vegetation type in many lakes in Florida and holds an abundance of bass. But since beds of hydrilla can be extremely large, it can be tough to decide where to start the search for bass. A good method is to attach a lipless crankbait to the end of your line and start casting and retrieving over the hydrilla, as well as along the edges. Make long casts and cover water until you find specific spots that hold bass.
Thick vegetation is home to many of Florida's biggest bass and the anglers who target these fish must do so with precision. A jig tipped with a plastic crayfish is one of the best lure choices when bass are in tight cover. Present the bait with a flip or pitch into holes of heavy cover and be ready for a jarring strike. Bass in these areas know they don't have much time to eat their prey before it's gone, so they'll often hit a pitched or flipped jig soon after it hits the water. It is a good idea to use stout baitcasting equipment and heavy braided fishing line when fishing with jigs in heavy cover.
- bass image by Liz Van Steenburgh from Fotolia.com