Originally published at https://myfwc.com/fishing/freshwater/sites-forecasts/ne/ on September 29, 2020.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission (FWC) has released the latest fishing forecast for some of the more popular fishing destinations. Check out their thoughts and get on the water! Visit LakeBIGBass.com for more information on fishing in Lake County, Florida.
Harris Chain of Lakes
As the weather starts cooling off the bass bite should heat up. Try flipping and pitching Texas-rigged worm (e.g., trick, speed, Senko) or creature bait in and around and in pockets of shoreline vegetation. Popular soft plastic colors on the Harris Chain include Redbug and Junebug. In clearer water try a more natural color like green pumpkin or watermelon. Another popular fall tactic is using speed worms or vibrating jigs (e.g., chatterbaits) in and around submersed vegetation. Submersed vegetation has expanded in a few Harris Chain Lakes, try moving baits like (lipless crankbaits or swimbaits) around the edges of the vegetation. Winter can be a great time to catch bass on live wild shiners. You can free line them or fish them under a cork. Contact one of the local Bait and Tackle shops (found on the site description) and they should be able to hook you up!
Starting in late fall, Black Crappie fishing should improve throughout the Harris Chain. Anglers have reported that Lake Yale has produced some good catches in recent years. Anglers typically troll the open water during the fall and winter months using live bait (e.g., minnows) or small jigs. Try trolling your baits at different depths to find where the crappie are holding. You can also try the FWC fish attractors throughout the chain. These artificial trees help concentrate crappie in the fall/winter months. You can vertically jig or troll over the attractors. *Please note, If trolling, make sure you set your baits high enough to insure you don’t snag the attractors. For shoreline crappie anglers, try the underwater dock lights at Hickory Point Park at Lake Harris. These underwater lights should attract crappie for a nighttime bite.
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 123 | Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 22
Lower St. Johns River and Lakes
Striped bass and Sunshine Bass will leave their cool water sanctuaries in the fall and should be congregating river wide near bridge pilings, jetties, channel markers, and in sharp bends in the river in the Mullet Lake area when the river is flowing. Grass shrimp, small shad, and rattling crankbaits are popular baits for these fish. Largemouth angling should also be picking up in the Mullet Lake area with live shiners the preferred bait. Cool weather marks the start of the black crappie (speckled perch) season. Lakes Jesup, Beresford and Harney, are popular speck lakes with most anglers drifting minnows or crappie jigs. Lakes Woodruff and Dexter, typically popular largemouth bass and crappie fisheries, should be relatively productive.
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 404 | Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 74
Hurricane Irma and subsequent high waters certainly did a number on the eelgrass on Lake George, and the vegetation is still recovering. Largemouth bass anglers may find success using live shiners and artificial baits fished near pilings. Live shad and grass shrimp fished near the jetties when the river is flowing should produce catches of largemouth bass and stripers. Later in the quarter, cooler waters should bring success to black crappie (speckled perch) anglers fishing Willow Cove on the eastern shore. Striped bass become more active around Ninemile Point and the Jetties.
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 163 | Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 30
Ocala National Forest Lakes
As we move into the fall, Largemouth Bass fishing in the Ocala National Forest during the daytime should improve. As the water temperatures fall, fish become less lethargic. Live baits always work well. Shiners free lined near weed lines can be effective, as can live worms. Soft jerk baits rigged weedless are also proven. Casting such lures into the weed line, then walking the lure on the surface to about 5 feet from the weed line, then letting it slowly sink to the bottom can be effective. Spinnerbaits can also be effective on cloudy days. Sunshine Bass have been stocked in Lake Bryant. These fish should be up to around three pounds. Target these fish using minnows near the fish attractors, or drift in the open water. Cold, overcast days are the best time to target them. Lake Half Moon is loaded with big Bream right now. Fishing along the weed line with crickets or worms should bring an abundance of large Bluegill and Red Eared Sunfish also known as “Shell-Crackers”. New “Mossback” fish attractors have been added to the existing brush fish attractors on Lakes Bryant and Dias. As these new attractors begin to become settled they will attract many species of sport fish such as Black Crappie and Hybrid Striped Bass.
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 51 | Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 17 | Hall of Fame Club (13+ pounds): 2
TrophyCatch is FWC’s citizen-science program that rewards anglers for documenting and releasing trophy bass 8 pounds or larger.
Lake County, Florida, a.k.a. “Lake Big Bass,” is located less than 30 minutes west of Orlando and has been named “Top 100 Best Bass Lakes” and “Top 25 Best Bass Lakes in the Southeast” by Bassmaster Magazine and “The 50 Best New Fishing Spots in America” by Field & Stream. The Harris Chain of Lakes, the Clermont Chain of Lakes and the St. Johns River welcomes professional and recreational anglers from around the world and hosts some of the top national bass fishing events including the Big Bass Tour, FLW Pro Circuit, Major League Fishing and Bassmaster. As FLW Pro Circuit Champion and LakeBigBass.com pro-angler Tim Frederick says, “fishing in Lake County is a must for every bass angler’s bucket list!” Visit LakeBigBass.com today and plan your next fishing trip.