Fishing in Florida differs from home

The last thing I want to do is make everybody back home jealous that I am down in Florida fishing out of a boat in shorts and sandals, so I apologize in advance.
After making the eight-day drive to get down here this past week, I did finally make it and have been fishing for the past few days.
Okay, it’s not quite an eight-day drive but it felt like it. It took me about two-and-a-half days to make the 3,000-km drive. I probably could have made it a little bit quicker, but I was towing my Lund and got sidetracked by stops at a few fishing shops on the way down.
Those of you who follow my column on a regular basis know that I am down here to fish in an FLW Tour bass tournament on Lake Okeechobee next week. These tournaments only allow a three-day practice period just before the tournament and prior to that the lake is off-limits for two weeks.
So I have not been on Okeechobee yet, but I have been catching some bass on a few lakes in the Orlando area: Lakes Toho and Kissimmee, two popular lakes that get a lot of action from bass anglers.
It worked out pretty good because I have a few of my tournament buddies from home who are down here for a good chunk of the winter and I was able to hook up with them for some fishing this week.
Bill Godin and Brian Mcnanney are down here on a vacation so we’ve been fishing together. These guys are resort owners in Sunset Country, so they get some downtime in the winter.
These lakes get a lot of fishing pressure and have tournaments on them nearly every weekend of the year, so the fishing can be tough. We have been catching fish, but not big numbers.
The biggest fish that we have seen was a six-pound largemouth that Brian caught.
The fishing down here also is quite a bit different than the lakes back home. There are no smallmouth bass down here; we only are catching largemouths.
These are all shallow, weedy lakes. In fact, it was pretty intimidating driving the boat the first day or two because we are running through little channels just wide enough for the boat in these huge weed fields.
Places you would never consider driving at home, at least not at high speeds.
There are literally no rocks in these lakes so if you see a channel in the weeds, it’s there because boats run through them.
We are fishing shallow water (five feet and less) and weeds are the cover these fish prefer. We have had success catching fish on a variety of baits, but flipping small craws and creature baits with heavy bullet sinkers remains the best tactic.
We can punch these rigs through heavy canopies of weeds. We also have caught fish on topwaters and swimbaits.
It’s neat because you could hook up a legitimate giant fish over 10 pounds on any cast down here. I’m kinda hoping that I save those ones for the tournament next week!
In next week’s column, I’ll have a report on how the pre-fishing is going on Lake Okeechobee.
In the meantime, I hope everybody is having fun out on the ice!

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