Originally published at https://myfwc.com/fishing/freshwater/sites-forecasts/ne/ on July 1, 2021.
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
Topwater baits (e.g., frogs, devil’s horses) early in the morning or late in the evening are always a popular summertime technique. For more consistent action try finding clearer water in and around submersed vegetation. In the summertime, some bass seek offshore cover and some stay near shore. For nearshore action, try throwing a weightless worm or fluke in shaded areas created by overhanging trees, docks. You can also break out the flipping stick and try punching matted vegetation One technique that is good year-round is tossing a soft plastics around pockets or edges of the vegetation. For offshore fish, using your electronics to finding isolated patches of vegetation, deep submersed vegetated weed line, or hardbottom areas (e.g., shell bars). Some popular offshore baits are crank baits and soft plastics using a Carolina rig. If fishing soft plastics, make sure to have patience and slow your retrieve down during the summer months. Summertime is also an excellent time to fish the attractors. FWC installed artificial attractors in Lakes: Griffin, Dora, and Harris. Also in Jan 2021, FWC refurbished 17 fish attractor sites on Lake Apopka with big orange trees. Crankbaits work well, make sure to use a lure that goes down around 6-10 feet (depending on the depth of the attractors) since most of the hits will come when bumping off the attractors. Soft plastics also are a popular way of attracting a bite, try a Texas or Carolina rigged worm (e.g., trick, speed, senko). Popular soft plastic colors on the Harris Chain include Redbug and Junebug. In clearer water, you can try more natural colors like watermelon or green pumpkin.
Bluegill will spawn periodically throughout the summer in the Harris Chain. Most bream anglers suggest the best bream fishing is around a full moon targeting bedding fish. You can target bluegill on the Harris Chain by locating beds around nearshore vegetation (e.g., Spatterdock pads). Fishing with crickets, grass shrimp, or worms on a cane pole work well. You can also try targeting bream using small artificial lures (e.g. inline spinners, beetle spins). The Harris Chain has an extensive canal system, when fishing artificial lures try and find canals with clear water. Bream fishing is an excellent way to introduce a kid to the outdoors. The Harris Chain of Lakes offers outstanding shore bream fishing opportunities, please see below for shore fishing options.
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 140 | Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 25
Lower St. Johns River and Lakes
High temperatures and the possibility of algal blooms throughout the summer will make fishing a bit of a challenge. Schools of threadfin shad should begin forming and moving through the river. Largemouth bass should continue to be caught following the schools of baitfish present in the river. Anglers should plan on being out early as recreational boating reaches its peak during this time of year making many areas of the river difficult to fish even in the late evening. Striped bass and sunshine bass seek cool water in the summer and should be congregating near the mouth of Blue Springs, the Wekiva River, the Croaker Hole in Little Lake George, and at other thermal refuges in the river. Grass shrimp, small shad and eels (when available) are the preferred baits for these fish.
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 405 | Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 75
Hurricane Irma certainly did a number of the eelgrass on Lake George, and the vegetation is still recovering. Summertime heat will make fishing more difficult for largemouth bass anglers, live shiners and artificial baits fished near the outer edge of remaining deeper eelgrass beds and pilings may be effective. Shallow grass beds, if found, should be fished during early morning or late evening hours when the water is cooler. Warm waters have stripers and sunshine bass congregated in the cool spring refuges – Juniper Cove and the mouths of Silver Glen and Salt Springs may provide some early morning/late evening action. Bluegill and redear sunfish (shellcracker) fishing will probably begin to slow as the spawn will be at or close to the end.
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 166 | Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 31
Ocala National Forest Lakes
The lake level on Lake Bryant is high, so much of the vegetation is accessible. Also, the two brush attractors (marked by yellow buoys) have recently been refurbished with “Mossback” fish attractors. These are non-toxic, plastic attractors that will resemble small triangular trees on your depth finder. Some fat Hybrid Striped Bass have been caught in open water using live minnows and shiners. Lake Kerr can produce panfish by fishing in the open water where the water depth drops. The two brush attractors (marked by yellow buoys) have also recently been refurbished with “Mossback” fish attractors. Fish on the shallow side of the drop on the bottom for panfish. Bass fishing in the forest remains good throughout the summer. Live baits always work well. Shiners free-lined near weed lines can be effective, as can live worms. Soft jerk baits rigged weed-less are also promising. 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. Spinnerbaits can also be effective on cloudy days. Night fishing in some of the larger forest lakes (Bryant, Wildcat, and Grasshopper) works well. Fishing with Shiners tends to produce the best results. Try fishing on full moon nights to make watching your bait easier. Newly refurbished fish attractors have also been deployed to Halfmoon Lake and Lake Dias.
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 68 | Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 30 | Hall of Fame Club (13+ pounds): 3
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, Major League Fishing, and Bassmaster. As MLF BIG5 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.