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Fishing for Panfish (Bream) in Florida


fishing for Florida panfish

Fishing for Florida Panfish!

This article focuses on fishing for Florida panfish and crappie. Panfish offer anglers both great sport on ultralight tackle and fine eating! Freshwater panfish are very popular throughout the entire United States.

There are quite a few different species of panfish in Florida. Bluegill, crappie, redear sunfish, warmouth, spotted sunfish, and red breast sunfish are just some of the different species. Crappie are the largest of the panfish and arguably the most popular. Just about every species of panfish is delicious! In Florida and the South, they are also known as “bream”.

fly fishing for Florida bluegill

Florida anglers are never very far from the closest spot to catch panfish. There is water everywhere here. Some species of panfish or another live in just about every body of water that is fresh. Most Florida waters are shallow and weedy which is prime habitat for catching panfish.

Fishing for Florida panfish and crappie

For many Florida anglers, fishing for panfish is a very simple affair. They grab a 12 foot cane pole with a piece of line and a hook. Some type of live bait such as worms or crickets is acquired and they head down to the local fishing hole. This type of fishing is very relaxing and is still productive to this day.

bluegill and panfish lures

While cane poles work fine, spinning tackle is much more versatile. Spinning rods allow anglers to cast very light baits and lures a fair distance. An ultralight spinning outfit is relatively inexpensive. A decent rod, real, and line can be purchased for around $60. Here is a link to a good, affordable spinning outfit.

Anglers can click this link to shop Amazon for an ultra light combo

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Florida panfish fishing using live bait

Live bait is very effective for targeting panfish. Most panfish eat insects, crustaceans, and small bait fish. Live worms are tough to beat for catching a wide variety of species. Crickets are very popular and are available at many freshwater bait shops. They are particularly good when targeting bluegill. Freshwater grass shrimp are a deadly bait for panfish! Few bait shops sell them however and anglers must catch their own with the net in the weedy vegetation.

fishing for Florida panfish and crappie

Most anglers fishing with live bait use a float of some sort. This allows the bait to be suspended over the weeds at the desired depth. It also gives anglers a visual indication of a strike. If the float disappears, a fish has taken the bait! This is a very practical rig since many Florida lakes and ponds are quite shallow. On deeper lakes and rivers anglers remove the float and add a small split shot a foot above the hook to get the bait down deeper.

While live bait probably accounts for most of the panfish that are caught, I actually prefer using artificial lures. I enjoy casting out a lure and reeling it back in, anticipating a strike. Lures also allow anglers to cover water much more quickly than live bait does. As an added bonus, largemouth bass often hit these tiny lures meant for panfish. A 1 1/2 pound bass will put up a tremendous fight on ultralight tackle!

Fishing for Florida panfish using lures

best panfish fishing lures

My go-to lure for Florida panfish is a 1/16 ounce black Beetle spin. It is basically a tiny spinner bait with a small grub body. Every angler has his or her favorite color. I have found the darker colors such as black and green to be the most effective in the tannin stained waters of Florida. In reality, just about any tiny in-line spinner or spinner bait will catch most species of Florida panfish.

Jigs are another very popular and effective panfish bait. Ultralight jig heads can be purchased as light as 1/64 ounce. However 1/32 ounce and 1/16 ounce baits are the most commonly used. Crappie anglers may bump it up to 1/8 ounce when fishing and trolling in deeper water.

One great thing about the jig and grub combo is that the grub body is easily replaced. The jig head is tied on to the line in some type of body adorns the jig hook. These little grubs come in countless colors and in several shapes. Twister tail and shad tail baits have great built in action and are probably the most popular. If I had to pick one jig and grub combo, it would be a 1/16 ounce jig with a chartreuse twister tail.

crappie fishing in Florida

Fly anglers are certainly not to be left out when it comes to Florida panfish. Since much of a panfish’s diet includes insects, fly fishing is a natural. A 3wt to 4wt outfit with a floating line is perfect. Any small buggy looking fly or tiny baitfish imitations will produce panfish. My favorite fly is a #10 black Wooly Bugger. That fly will catch just about every freshwater fish on the planet.

Read my article on fly fishing for bluegill

Fishing for panfish in Florida, top techniques

The fishing technique for panfish is basically the same whether you are using lures, flies, or live bait. Panfish prefer some type of cover, with vegetation being their primary hiding spots. Bluegill and other panfish love wood, so any fallen tree should be given extra attention.

Florida bluegill fishing charters

Panfish tend to group up in an area. The best approach is for an angler to move around while fishing likely looking spots. If the action is slow, keep it moving. Once a productive area is located, it is time to slow down and fish that area thoroughly. This is especially true when panfish are on the spawning beds.

Florida panfish like cover such as weeds and fallen timber

Anglers fishing with live bait in shallow water will generally have the float a couple feet above the float. They cast the rig out towards the edge of a weed line, over submerged vegetation, or near some submerged timber. The bait is allowed to sit for a little bit, giving the fish plenty of time to find it. When the float disappears the slack line is reeled tight and the hook is set.

Artificial lures and flies are cast out to the same spots. They are allowed to sink for a moment in the retrieved back in. The most productive retrieve when panfishing will be a slow steady retrieve. Anglers using spinners or spinner baits want to real just fast enough to turn the blade and keep the bait out of the bottom. Anglers jig fish in can give the rod tip a slight twitch to make the jig top and fall.

Florida panfish locations

Bottom composition can be a huge factor when targeting Florida panfish. Hard, shell bottom will be very productive areas if found. This is especially true for redear sunfish, AKA shellcrackers. They get their name because of their affinity for eating mollusks and crustaceans. But all fish prefer a firmer bottom over mucky bottom, especially when it’s time to spawn.

Florida crappie fishing

I really enjoy fishing Florida rivers for panfish. They are often overlooked by anglers. Here in Sarasota, Florida, we have the Manatee River system Braden River system, and the Myakka River system. The river inside Myakka State Park is beautiful with fantastic scenery and wildlife. It offers great pan fishing for anglers with small boats, canoes, and kayaks.

One advantage to panfish in rivers is at there is limited water. This makes finding panfish easier. This is especially true during periods of low water. Outside bends in the river almost always have deeper water and fallen trees. These types of spots are magnets for panfish and other game fish.

Trolling is another extremely effective technique for panfish. It is especially efficient on larger open bodies of water. Trolling a small Beetle spin or jig along a weed line is a great way to locate a school of panfish. Trolling is very popular among crappie anglers. It is a terrific way to locate a school of fish in deeper water.

Crappie fishing in Florida

Sarasota crappie fishing

Crappie are prolific and popular in the state of Florida. They are also known as “speckled perch” or “specks”. While crappie are known for being found around fallen trees, they also do well in aquatic vegetation, which Florida lakes have an abundance of.

Crappie spawn in the winter in Florida. The exact month depends on the part of the state one if fishing. Down south, it is January while up near the Georgia border, crappie spawn in March. They often school up in large groups in deeper water before moving to the banks to spawn. This is a great time to catch them!

Best Florida crappie fishing lures and baits

Crappie feed primarily on small bait fish. Therefore, live minnows and lures that imitate them are the best choices. Live minnows, usually Missouri Minnows, which are a hardy, commercial breed, are the most commonly used live bait for Florida crappie. They can be fished under a float on deeper on a bottom rig.

A jig is my favorite crappie fishing lure. These are versatile baits that can be cast, trolled, or vertically fished. 1/8 and 1/16 ounce jigs work well. Chartreuse is a top color in dark, tannin stained water that constitutes most Florida lakes.

Sarasota crappie fishing

Crappie will be in shallow water close to the bank during spawning season. Anglers cast jigs or a live minnow under a bobber towards weed edges and fallen timber. During the rest of the year, crappie are often located in deeper water. They will relate to structure such as channel edges and submerged trees. Some lakes have artificial reefs to attract crappie.

Florida panfish species

Crappie

top freshwater species

Crappie are the largest member of the panfish clan and grow to several pounds. Anything over 12” is a decent fish. Crappie school up in fall and winter. Many anglers troll in deeper water for them. As it warms up in spring, they move to the shallow banks. Crappie prefer small bait fish, so live minnows and artificial lures that mimic bait fish work best.

Bluegill

bluegill fishing

Bluegill are probably the most abundant and prolific species of fish in the panfish family. Many southern anglers call them “bream”. It is pronounced “brim”. No matter what name you give them, they are great fun to catch and put up a good fight for their size. The running joke is that if bluegill got to be 5 pounds, you would never be able to land it!

Bluegill are fairly aggressive and can be caught on just about any live or artificial bait and while fly fishing. They prefer shallow weedy areas with sandy bottom and are very much attracted to wood. This would include trees and docks. Florida bluegill spawn around the full moons and summer.

Redear sunfish (shellcrackers)

redear sunfish fishing in Florida

Redear sunfish (shellcrackers) are the largest members of the bream family. They prefer slightly deeper water than most other panfish. While they will hit artificial lures, anglers targeting redear sunfish will have more success using live worms.

Spotted sunfish (stumpknocker)

 

Spotted sunfish or “stumpknockers” are another popular Florida panfish. They get their name from their affinity for woody structure. Spotted sunfish mostly feed on vegetation, but due to their aggressive nature are easily caught using lures. They do not grow quite as large as bluegill, but have a firm, white meat.

Warmouth

fishing for Florida warmouth

Warmouth are very aggressive and more solitary than other panfish. They are broad and put up a very good fight. They tend to prefer smaller bodies of water such as streams and swampy areas.

Fishing for Florida crappie

This section will focus on fishing for crappie in Florida. Crappie are an extremely popular freshwater fish, right up there with largemouth bass bluegill. They are a bit larger than most freshwater panfish and are available throughout much of the United States.

Florida fishing gets a lot of attention, though not as much is directed towards crappie and other panfish. However, Florida offers anglers excellent crappie fishing! Crappie are locally known as “speckled perch”or “specks”. They are most often targeted in medium-sized to larger lakes.

Best times to fish for Florida crappie

While crappie can be caught year-round, the prime times are from middle of October till the middle of March. Crappie will start to school up in slightly deeper water along the edges of channels and and other deeper holes. As the weekly cold fronts begin to descend on Florida, these fish will move up to the banks to spawn. By April, most fish will have spawned out and migrated to the deeper water for the summer.

The two most productive techniques for crappie fishing are trolling and casting. Many successful anglers use a combination of the two. Early in the season when the schools are staged out in deeper water, trolling can be very effective. This allows anglers to cover a fair amount of water in search of fish. Once located, anglers will often slowly and thoroughly fish that area.

Most anglers choose to troll with artificial lures. However, live minnows can be trolled very slowly as well. Jigs are the preferred lure when trolling for crappie. A jig is a hook with a weight at the front near the eye. Jig heads come in many different weights and anglers can use the proper weight to get down to the desired depth.

Jigs produce crappie

The jig is then adorned with some type of plastic body or hairdressing. Marabou jigs have been popular ineffective for crappie fishing for a long time. Many anglers choose for soft plastic bodies for several reasons. They are inexpensive, effective, and it is very easy to change the colors and styles of the tails. Grubs come in many different styles and colors, and all of them will produce fish at one time or another.

The Blakemore Road Runner is a very productive lure for trolling in deeper water. It is basically a jig like described above except that it has a little spinner coming off the head. Many of Florida’s lakes are dark and tannin stained. The extra flash of the spinner can prove to be the difference between success and failure when trolling for crappie.

As it cools off in the fish move up to the bank, many anglers switch over to casting lures and live baits. The same jigs used for trolling work fine when cast and retrieved towards the bank and other likely fish holding structure. Crappie love submerged trees and downed timber. Tiny spinner baits such as the beetle spent work very well on crappie and other panfish. Tiny plugs will produce as well, and will normally catch larger fish.

Crappie fishing with live bait

Live bait is often used in the circumstances well. The number one live bait by far is a live minnow. Most tackle shops that service freshwater anglers keep these on hand. The Missouri minnow is commercially raised and is very hardy. A couple dozen will live just fine in a small bucket of water. Most anglers fish the minnow several feet under a bobber. Red worms and nightcrawlers will also produce crappie.

Anglers can still troll when crappie move into the banks. In fact, this is a terrific way to locate a school of fish. Since the water will be shallower, very light jigs, small spinner baits, and tiny plugs are the best choice. As with the deep water trolling, once a school of fish is located anglers should turn back around and fish that area thoroughly.

Crappie are a very mild flavored fish with white flesh. They are fantastic eating! During these periods when crappie school up, it is easy to catch a bunch in a few hours of fishing. While they do freeze well, I encourage anglers to be judicious in the size and number of fish that they keep. I personally let the very big ones go and of course the smaller ones as well, keeping the chunky fish and the tenants to 12 inch range to eat.

Best Florida crappie fishing lakes

Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee is world-renowned for its bass fishing, but offers anglers excellent crappie fishing as well. Winter and early spring are the prime times to target crappie in Lake Okeechobee. While any part of the lake can be productive, many anglers focus on the north end where the Kissimmee River comes in. Vegetation is the primary cover and anglers will do well to move around until fish are located.

Lake Arbuckle

Lake Arbuckle is a 3800 acre lake in Polk County. It is a very productive lake for crappie year-round. There are three deeper basins in the lake which tend to concentrate crappie. As in most Florida lakes, trolling is productive in the cooler months while anglers target fish in the shallower grass in the spring. There is a park, but ramp and campground there. The area is gated, so anglers fishing early and late would do best to call ahead. The phone number is 863-534-4340.

Lake Istapoga

Lake Istapoga is another lake known more for bass fishing, but offers excellent crappie fishing as well. This is a 28,000 acre lake in the south-central part of Florida. Traditionally, the best crappie fishing spots are in the deeper areas east and north of Big Island along with the west side of Long Island. Vegetation is fairly thick and Lake Istapoga. Anglers tend to concentrate on the deeper areas in the winter as opposed to fighting the heavy vegetation they encounter by mid spring. There are several boat ramps offering crappie anglers access to this lake.

Lake Talquin

Lake Talquin holds the Florida state record crappie at nearly 4 pounds. It is an 8800 acre lake near Tallahassee, Florida. Anglers troll the channel area in fall and winter, then concentrate on the shallow water vegetation and spring. The lake is full of submerged stumps, trees and other structure and obstructions. Lake Talquin is also a very good lake for bluegill.

Walk-in-Water

Lake walk-in water is an 8000 acre lake in Polk County. This lake has less vegetation than many of the other Florida lakes do. This lake has plenty of deep water for anglers who prefer to troll. Also, seven fish attractors were placed in the lake to help concentrate the crappie in the deeper water. These are well marked with orange and white buoys. There is one boat ramp on the western side of the lake off of Walk-in-Water Road.

Lake Monroe

Lake Monroe is part of the St. Johns River chain of lakes. It is close to 10,000 acres and lies between Orlando and Daytona Beach. Lake Monroe is known to give up good-sized fish in the cooler months. Anglers will do well to troll as it allows them to cover a lot of water. Lake Monroe is large and the crappie can be difficult to locate. However, once they are located, anglers can expect larger than average catches.

Lochloosa Lake

Lockloosa Lake in Alachua County is best known for numbers of crappie. Many anglers limit out on fish in the 10 inch range. Again, as with most Florida lakes, anglers fish the deeper open water in the cooler months than concentrate on shoreline vegetation as it warms up. This lake is also known for some very large bluegill. There is a county ramp located near the post office as well is a couple of fish camps. There are tagged crappy in this lake, anglers to catch one can call the number on the tag to claim their prize.

Lake Monroe

Lake Monroe is part of the St. Johns River chain of lakes. It is close to 10,000 acres and lies between Orlando and Daytona Beach. Lake Monroe is known to give up good-sized fish in the cooler months. Anglers will do well to troll as it allows them to cover a lot of water. Lake Monroe is large and the crappie can be difficult to locate. However, once they are located, anglers can expect larger than average catches.

Lochloosa Lake

Lockloosa Lake in Alachua County is best known for numbers of crappie. Many anglers limit out on fish in the 10 inch range. Again, as with most Florida lakes, anglers fish the deeper open water in the cooler months than concentrate on shoreline vegetation as it warms up. This lake is also known for some very large bluegill. There is a county ramp located near the post office as well is a couple of fish camps. There are tagged crappy in this lake, anglers to catch one can call the number on the tag to claim their prize.

Lake Griffin

Lake Griffin is a 10,000 acre lake in Lake County near Leesburg, Florida. It is part of the Harris Chain of Lakes. There are several marked fish attractors in the center and southern parts of the lake. There is a 10 inch minimum size for crappie on Lake Griffin. This has resulted and good numbers of ten inch plus fish. There are ramps at Herlong Park and out Lake Griffin State Park.

Mosaic fish management area

There are 12 lakes in the Mosaic Fish management area, ranging from 10 to 200 acres. The Mosaic Fish management area is 1000 acres and is located in Polk County near Fort Meade, Florida. These are reclaimed strip pits and are deep for Florida lakes. These lakes very and offer crappie anglers a wide variety of structure. They have a mix of brushy weedy shorelines and deeper water. SP 12 N SP 12 S and Hall Road are perhaps the best crappie lakes. These mosaic lakes have special regulations. There is a 10 inch minimum and a 10 fish per person fish limit. These lakes are only open Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 6 AM until 2 PM. These restrictions result in some excellent fishing for crappie.

Newnans Lake

Newnans Lake in Alachua County was very low in 2017. However, heavy summer rains and Hurricane Irma brought the water level up quite high. There is an excellent population of crappie with a high percentage of quality fish as well. 16 inch fish are not uncommon. The same pattern of fishing deeper open water in cooler months and shoreline vegetation and cover and spring and summer holds true to this lake as well. There are tagged crappy in this lake. There are a couple boat ramps allowing anglers to access Newnans Lake.

Top Florida panfish spots

Florida is blessed with countless ponds, creeks, rivers, and lakes that have excellent panfish populations. Most Florida residents live withing a couple miles of panfish that are just waiting to be caught. Some of the top panfish lakes in Florida are Lake Kissimmee, Lake Toho, Lake Talquin, Lake Istopoga, Lake Panasoffkee, Winter Haven Chain of Lakes, Lake Weohyakapka (Walk-inWater), Lake Pierce, Lake Seminole, Lochloosa Lake, Lake Okeechobee, and Everglades Conservation Areas #2 and #3.

In closing, this article on Fishing for Florida panfish and crappie will help anglers catch more fish. Anglers can find Florida fishing regulations on the FWC site.

Fishing Lake Panasoffkee


Fishing Lake Panasoffkee

fishing Lake Panasoffkee

The topic of this article is fishing Lake Panasoffkke, Florida. Lake Panasoffkee is located in central Florida, just south of Ocala. It is an hour west of Orlando. This 4,460-acre lake is situated in Sumter County, just off the I-75 interstate. The lake’s unique ecosystem, abundance of fish species, and variety of fishing options make it an ideal location for anglers of all skill levels. Great skill is not required to catch fish!

Fishing in Lake Panasoffkee is a year-round activity, with different seasons bringing different species of fish. The lake is home to a wide variety of fish, including largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, and tilapia. It is on the list of top ten panfish lakes in Florida. Largemouth bass are available in both size and numbers. The shallow fertile water is the perfect environment for both bass and bluegill.

largemouth bass fishing

My name is Capt Jim Klopfer and I love fishing Lake Panasoffkee! I recently moved to Inverness after running fishing charters in Sarasota for over 30 years. I really enjoy the solitude, scenery, and simplicity of freshwater fishing. I really enjoy fly fishing in Lake Panasoffkee, though I will certainly use spinning and baitcasting tackle as well.

Fishing Lake Panasoffkee

One of the unique features of Lake Panasoffkee is its aquifer-fed springs, which provide a constant flow of fresh water into the lake. The freshwater springs, located in the northwestern part of the lake, offer excellent fishing opportunities, with many anglers reporting catches of large bass and crappie in this area. The lake’s other areas also offer great fishing opportunities, with plenty of shallow areas and submerged vegetation providing excellent habitats for a variety of fish species.

Florida bluegill fishing

The water level is very important when fishing Lake Panasoffkee. It is a very shallow lake and in the dry season (winter and spring), the water can get very low. Also, weed growth can be an issue for both fishing and boating. However, when conditions are right, Lake Panasoffkee offers some of the best freshwater fishing in Florida.

Largemouth bass fishing on Lake Panasoffkee

Largemouth bass are extremely popular among anglers freshwater fishing in Florida. Lake Panasoffkee offers anglers the chance to catch a big fish while experiencing decent action as well. The shallow water and weeds results in several patterns being productive. Soft plastic baits produce more bass than any other artificial lure. Anglers Texas rigging worms and other baits can work them slowly through the vegetation. Punching creature baits through matted surface vegetation produces some big fish. My personal favorite is the Zoom Trick Worm. I like how slender it is with great action. Green pumpkin is a productive color, as are blue and black.

zoom trick worm

Topwater plugs work very well early and late in the day on Lake Panasoffkee. The best approach is to work the edges of weed beds as they drop off into deeper, open water. Anglers will also encounter bass feeding on the surface at times. This is great fun and a topwater bait works well. I am a “Rapala guy” and favor the Rapala Skitter pop when using a popper. The Rapala Skitter Prop is an excellent prop bait that puts out a bit more commotion.

Bladed jigs and spinnerbaits are also productive bass fishing lures on Lake Panasoffkee. They are relatively weedless, which makes them good choices for the vegetation present. These lures allow anglers to cover a lot more water than can be done with a slow moving soft plastic baits. Chartreuse and white is an excellent all round color combination.

Florida freshwater fishing

Live shiners, especially wild shiners, practically guarantee success when bass fishing, particularly in the cooler months. Due to the vegetation, the most effective presentation is to fish them a couple feet under a float. Heavy tackle is best, a very large bass is always a possibility.

Bluegill fishing on Lake Panasoffkee

Bluegill fishing on Lake Panasoffkee is outstanding! It is one of the top panfish lakes in the state. Bluegill, also known as bream or sunfish are a species of freshwater fish that are abundant in the lake. They are a popular catch due to their good fighting ability and delicious taste.

freshwater fishing inverness Florida

Bluegill fishing in Lake Panasoffkee can be done year-round, but the best times to fish are during the warmer months of the year. The bluegill tend to move into shallower waters during this time to spawn, making them easier to catch. This is especially true around the full moon. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to catch bluegill, as they are more active during these times. However, they readily bite all day.

One of the most popular techniques for catching bluegill in Lake Panasoffkee is using live bait, such as worms, crickets, or grass shrimp. This is very basic, fun fishing that anyone can do. These baits can be used with a simple hook and bobber setup or a small jig.

fly fishing for Florida bluegill

Another popular technique for catching bluegill is using small artificial lures. These lures can mimic the movement of natural prey and can be very effective in attracting bluegill. I really only use two lures for bluegill fishing; a 1 1/16 ounce black Beetle Spin spinnerbait and a 1 1/16 ounce chartreuse curly tail grub. Both catch plenty of bluegill and anglers will catch bass as well.

Crappie fishing on Lake Panasoffkee

Crappie fishing is a popular on Lake Panasoffkee, particularly in the cooler months. Crappie, also known as speckled perch, are a species of freshwater fish that are abundant in the lake. They are a pretty fish that grow larger than other panfish. Crappie are fantastic to eat. They are a schooling fish and once located, a nice mess can be landed in short order.

fishing for crappie

The best time to go crappie fishing in Lake Panasoffkee is during the cooler months of the year, typically from October through April. During this time, the water temperatures are cooler, and the crappie are more active and aggressive. They tend to move to shallower waters to spawn, making them easier to catch.

One of the most popular techniques for catching crappie in Lake Panasoffkee is using live minnows under a float. This is very productive and easy. Anglers use a #4 long shank hook under a small float. The minnow can be hooked under the dorsal fin or through the lips. It is best to give a spot ten to fifteen minutes and if the action arises, move to another spot. 2″ minnows are best and can be purchased at local bait shops when the crappie run is on.

Florida crappie fishing

Another popular technique for catching crappie is using small artificial lures, especially jigs. 1/8 ounce and 1/16 ounce jigs with a plastic body are extremely productive. That same small Beetle spin is effective as well. These lures can mimic the movement of natural prey and can be very effective in attracting crappie. A slow, steady retrieve works best. Anglers can cast them towards shoreline cover and weed edges. When weeds are a bit less prevalent, trolling is a terrific technique anglers can use to locate a school of fish.

Shellcracker (redear sunfish) fishing on Lake Panasoffkee

fishing for Florida shellcracker

Redear sunfish, also known as shellcracker, are also present in Lake Panasoffkee. They are mostly caught in late spring and early summer. Shellcracker feed on crustaceans (thus the name) and are mostly caught by anglers using live bait. Worms and grass shrimp are very effective. The bait can be fished under a float or free lined with a split shot in deeper water. They grow larger than bluegill and fight very hard. Shellcracker are also fantastic to eat!

While live bait is best for shellcracker, they will also take lures and flies. The same lures that fool bluegill will catch the occasional shellcracker. This is particularly true when they are spawning in spring and a bit more aggressive.

Fly Fishing on Lake Panasoffkee

fly fishing for largemouth bass in florida

While it is perhaps not the most effective technique when it comes to numbers of fish, I prefer to fly fish whenever possible. It is terrific sport and just a tad more challenging than other methods. The shallow water makes it easy to get a fly in the strike zone. In fact, surface flies such as poppers, deer hair bugs, and foam rubber bugs work very well and are great fun to fish. Subsurface flies including Clouser Minnow patterns and wooly buggers are productive when fish are not feeding on the surface.

Read more about Florida freshwater fly fishing charters

I use a 4wt outfit for panfish and an 8wt rig for bass fishing. Floating lines are used. I keep the leader short on the bass outfit and I use a 5x tapered leader for bluegill fishing. In most cases, simply working weedlines and holes in hydrilla and other open spots in the vegetation works best. The water has to be a bit open, even though most of the surface flies have a weed guard on them.

Accessing Lake Panasoffkee

Most of the access for Lake Panasoffkee is on the west side of the lake. There is a nice protected ramp on a canal at Marsh Bend Park. Anglers looking for fish camps can use Tracy’s Point Lodge or Pana Vista Lodge. Both have boat ramps, cabins, and fish cleaning tables at a very affordable price.

In conclusion, this article on fishing Lake Panasoffkee will help anglers catch more fish on this very productive Florida lake.

Cartoogechaye Creek Trout Fishing


trout fishing Cartoogechaye Creek

Cartoogechaye Creek Trout Fishing

The topic of this article is trout fishing Cartoogechaye Creek. This is a pretty little stream in western North Carolina. It flows east from the mountains, ending it’s journey by emptying into the Little Tennessee River the the town of Franklin. It is an east stream to wade and fish with excellent access in several locations.

Cartoogechaye Creek is conveniently located and easy to fish. This is not the spot for anglers seeking a remote trout fishing experience. While not quite “urban fishing”, most of the spots are in parks that are popular and are used for walking and sports. However, the trade off is being able to conveniently fish a pretty stream that has a good population of trout.

fly fishing Cartoogechaye Creek

The Cartoogechaye Creek is stocked fairly heavily in spring and early summer. Stocking is done from the state road 64 bridge about 4 miles west of Franklin down to the mouth at the Little Tennessee River. As is often the case, bridges are good spots to fish as they offer easy access for the stocking trucks. Most of the fish caught will be stockers, but there are holdover fish, especially in the less pressured spots. It is a nice sized stream that is easy to wade and fish.

Cartoogechaye Creek trout fishing

While I often practice catch and release, Cartoogechaye Creek is a great choice for anglers looking to keep a couple fish for the skillet. The trout stocked are really put there for anglers to keep and enjoy. As always, be responsible on the days when the bite is on and only keep a couple for a meal. Most of the fish are rainbow trout, but there are plenty of brook trout as well.

My favorite portion of Cartoogechaye Creek is where it runs through Parker Meadows Complex. This is a nice park with ball fields, pickleball courts, and a walking trail. Afternoons can be busy with sports activities. There is plenty of parking and a lot of access points to enter the creek. When conditions are decent, this area rarely fails to produce a few fish.

north carolina trout

I like to start at either the west end and wade upstream or the east end and wade downstream. As with most trout fishing, the easier the access the more pressure it will receive. Getting just a little ways off the beaten path can make a difference. This is a really cool creek that feels remote once you are in the water and fishing. However, there are usually plenty of fish in the park itself.

Public access for Cartoogechaye Creek

The next access point to fish Cartoogechaye Creek is about a mile east, off of Industrial Park Rd. There are sports fields to the right and left and a short walk will have you in the water and fishing. This spot get a lot less fishing pressure, though there are fewer spots to access the creek. I have caught small bass here as well.

After the Industrial Road spot, the creek flows through a lot of private land with no real public access. There are a few bridges, but no real good places to park.

fishing Cartoogechaye Creek

Once Cartoogechaye Creek flows under 441 in Franklin, anglers have terrific access. Of course, this also results in more fishing pressure. There are trails, bridges, and a lot of great access from the park complex. Anglers who don’t mind a short hike can park at the library and fish the creek in that area where the Greenway begins. There are a lot of people strolling, but few actually fish this area.

Trout fishing techniques

Fishing techniques are pretty basic for anglers hitting Cartoogechaye Creek. The same tactics that produce stocked trout throughout North Carolina will produce here as well. Fly fishing and spin fishing are both equally productive.

Spin fishing for trout

Anglers spin fishing will do best by using ultra light tackle. I like a 6 ½ foot to 7 foot rod with matching reel and 4 pound monofilament line. I always fish with lures and my favorite is a 1/16 ounce Rooster Tail spinner. These are very productive when cast out and reeled in slowly and steadily.

rainbow trout on Rooster tail

I like the convenience of using lures. A brightly colored trout magnet fished under a float and drifted through deeper runs will catch plenty of trout as well. A tiny gold Acme Kastmaster spoon is another effective lure, though it will snag more often in shallow water.

Live and prepared baits will certainly catch plenty of fish. Worms and nightcrawlers are the top live baits. Prepared dough baits as well as eggs and worms also do well with stocked trout. They are best fished under a float with a small hook and split shot to get it down in the water. This is definitely a family friendly way to have some fun and catch a few fish for dinner.

Fly fishing for trout

Anglers fishing Cartoogechaye Creek can certainly do well fly fishing for trout. A 3wt or 4wt outfit with a floating line s perfect. A 9 foot 6x leader completes the rig. Dry flies such as a #12 yellow Sally or any hopper pattern can work well. Again, stocked trout are usually a bit less selective.

#12 or #14 hares ear or pheasant tail nymphs can be fished 18” under a strike indicator or under a dry fly. The “dry dropper” rig is very effective. A #8 black woolly bugger is a versatile and effective fly that can be fished a variety of ways. It can be dead drifter or retrieved like a streamer.

Anglers seeking a pristine and more remote fishing experience can take a 20 minute drive west and fish the upper reaches of the Nantahala River. There are several parking and access points, including Standing Indian Campground. This is a gorgeous little stream that is full of small native trout.

This is a more classic trout fishing situation. However, it is not as easy and therefore best for anglers with a bit more experience. This is fairly technical fishing. Also, wading is not always easy. The reward is the chance to catch a beautiful native trout in a pristine environment.

In conclusion, this article on Cartoogechaye Creek trout fishing will help anglers catch more fish in this under-utilized fishery!

Fishing the Cullasaja River in Franklin NC


fishing the Cullasaja River

Fishing the Cullasaja River Franklin NC

In this article I will thoroughly cover fishing the Cullasaja River in Franklin North Carolina. This is a gorgeous little river that offers anglers the opportunity to catch brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout. Both stocked and native fish are present. Further down river, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, redhorse, and panfish are commonly caught species as well. Most of the bass are small, but still fun on ultra light tackle.

The Cullasaja River is relatively short at 23 miles in length. It begins in the resort town of Highlands and flows north until it empties in the Little Tennessee River. The first half of the river flows though a spectacular gorge before slowing a bit as it flattens out near Franklin.

trout fishing in western north carolina

Access to the Cullasaja River is very good along most of it’s length. State Road 64 parallels the river for most of it’s length. There are many pull-offs where anglers can park and walk a short distance to start fishing. Two excellent starting points are the bridges at Gold Mine Rd and Turtle Pond Rd. These are also convenient spots for stocking, resulting in good numbers of fish.

Fishing the Cullasaja River

As with all trout fishing, the easier the spot is to get to, the more angling pressure it will experience. Adventurous anglers have boundless opportunities to explore when fishing the Cullasaja River. However, care definitely needs to be taken as this is a rugged environment. Those who brave it will find some unspoiled fishing, often for native brook and rainbow trout.

Wading is the primary method used when fishing the Cullasaja River. It is too small and rugged for a raft or even a kayak or canoe, at least in the upper reaches. As the river flattens out near Franklin, a kayak or canoe certainly becomes an option. I personally have never seen a raft on the river, there just isn’t a lot of access for that type of craft.

Check out my article on trout fishing western North Carolina

There are also quite a few smaller creeks for anglers who enjoy the ‘blue lining” style of fishing. This basically means exploring small creeks, which appear as blue lines on maps. This is technical fishing, mostly for smaller native rainbow and brook trout. Buck Creek is a prime example, but there are many creeks that anglers can explore.

Fishing the lower Cullasaja River

The Cullasaja River changes in character further down river as it approaches Franklin, North Carolina. It becomes more of a meadow type stream as it flattens out. The river is easy to wade and has good numbers of fish. The easiest access is off of River Road, which parallels the river at various points. Anglers can even fish the mouth of the Cullasaja River where it empties into the Little Tennessee River at the Greenway Parks Salali Lane entrance.

fishing the Cullasaja River

Considering the convenience and ease of access, the Cullasaja River really does not get a lot of fishing pressure. I suppose many anglers are attracted to the more glamorous waters such as the Tuckasegee and Nantahala Rivers. It is an excellent option for anglers with only a few hours of fishing time to wet a line and catch a few fish.

Cullasaja River fishing techniques

Two basic techniques are used by anglers fishing the Cullasaja River. These are spin fishing and fly fly fishing. Many anglers associate mountain trout fishing with fly fishing, and for good reason. It is probably the most popular method of fishing in the river. However, spin fishing can be very productive as well and is generally easiest for novice anglers.

Fly fishing in the Cullasaja River

Anglers fly fishing the Cullasaja River will do best going fairly light. A 3wt or 4wt outfit with a floating line is all that is needed. Anglers exploring smaller creeks will often go even lighter. 6X leaders should work fine, though bumping up to 7x may result in more takes, especially if the water is very clear.

north carolina trout

Fly selection can run the gamut. One good option is to check in at Fish Tales Outfitters in Franklin to get some current local information. Attractor patters such as coachman and hopper patterns are often a good start. Yellows and greens seem to work well. A #12 or #14 yellow Sally is a good fly to start out with. Sulphers and Adams will also produce.

The standard nymph patterns that produce in the area will do fine as well. Hares ear and pheasant tail nymphs in #12 are productive. Pat’s rubber leg flies are very popular in this area as well.

My personal favorite fly is the versatile wooly bugger. I enjoy fishing with streamers and have a lot of confidence in them. Streamers will also at times catch larger fish. This also makes fly selection very easy. It can be tough to beat a #8 black wooly bugger drifter through a pool or run!

Spin fishing in the Cullasaja River

Anglers spin fishing will do well using ultra light gear. I like a 6 ½ foot ultra light fast action rod with a matching reel spooled up with 4 lb monofilament line. I like the stretch of monofilament when fishing such light line. Some anglers will even go down to 2 lb line to bet more bites, but the margin for error is quite low when doing so.

best river trout fishing lure

My favorite lure by far for fishing the Cullasaja River is a 1/16 ounce original Worden’s Rooster Tail spinner. I like this better than other spinners due to the light weight. It hangs up less and puts out a lot of flash. A slow, steady retrieve works best. Black with a gold blade and rainbow trout with a gold blade are my top colors. White with a silver blade can produce on sunny days.

The best presentation is to cast the lure across the current and then let it flow down stream while turning the crank just fast enough to keep the blades turning. Bites will often occur as the spinner swings in the current, much like swinging a nymph. It is a versatile lure that can be fished deep or shallow. Finally, they are offered in single hook versions to facilitate a safe release.

Trout magnets are effective lures that are easy to use as well. They are basically ultra light jigs that are often fished under a float. Small spoons and plugs can be used in the deeper pools on the lower stretches.

rainbow trout

I personally do not use live bait or the myriad of prepared baits. There are many commercial baits than can be used. Most are bright in color and appeal to stocked trout. Worms and nightcrawlers also produce. These baits can make it difficult to release trout, but they are an easy way to catch a few stocker trout for the skillet.

Other things to do in Franklin and Highlands

One nice aspect of this area is that there are things to do for the non angler. Those that don’t fish can explore Highlands or Franklin, take a hike, or have a nice coffee of lunch while the anglers gets in a few hours of fishing. This region of North Carolina is gorgeous and there are many cabin rental opportunities. It is also the gem mining capital of the country, for those interested in that.

More fishing spots near the Cullasaja River

There are other fishing opportunities in the area as well. The Tuckasegee River in Webster is only a half hour away. It is a larger river so care needs to be taken when wading. Many anglers float it with a guide. It is stocked heavily and is full of fish from October to June.

Cliffside Lake is very close to the Cullasaja River. It is a nice park with a trail around the lake. It is a great option for kids as well as anglers with less mobility. The lake has trout, bass, and a very good population of tasty panfish.

The Little Tennessee River is a short drive away and is a terrific smallmouth bass stream in the warmer months. It is easily accessed by wading anglers off of Needmore Road. Those with small boats, canoes, or kayaks can fish up from the dam in Lake Emory for bass, panfish, and trout. This area gets very little fishing pressure, despite being downtown.

Glenville Lake is a gorgeous mountain lake! It is the highest lake east of the Mississippi River at around 3500 feet. It has an excellent population of largemouth and smallmouth bass, trout, panfish, and even walleye. It is best fished from a boat, there are rentals at the southern end.

In conclusion, this article on fishing the Cullasaja River will help anglers catch more fish when visiting western North Carolina!

Fly Fishing for Florida Bluegill


fly fishing for Florida bluegill

Fly Fishing for Florida Bluegill

The subject of this post will be fly fishing for Florida bluegill. Freshwater fishing in Florida is very popular, and while largemouth bass get a lot of publicity, the reality is that more anglers pursue bluegill (and other Florida panfish) than any other species. The environment in Florida is perfect and bluegill thrive and just about every freshwater lake or river.

My name is Capt. Jim Klopfer and I have been a fishing guide in Florida since 1991. As I near retirement I find the peacefulness and solitude of freshwater fishing to become more and more appealing. While largemouth bass are great fun to chase on fly, there’s something about bluegill fishing that I especially enjoy.

I offer anglers bluegill fly fishing charters in Florida.

Freshwater fish species

Bluegill are fantastic little game fish when caught on appropriate tackle. Obviously, due to their diminutive size, anglers should use light fly gear. Bluegill are an excellent species to target when fly fishing in Florida. They are numerous, aggressive, widely available, and fun without being overly challenging. For anglers pursuing a meal, they are fantastic eating as well!

Fly fishing for Florida bluegill

Most of the tips and techniques shared in this article on fly fishing for Florida bluegill will apply to other areas of the country. However, there are some differences as well. The primary differences are that bluegill in Florida are almost always caught quite shallow. Many of the lakes have water that is no deeper than 6 feet in the middle. Another factor is the abundance of aquatic vegetation, Florida waters have a lot of weeds!

Florida bluegill fishing charters

One of the great attractions of fly fishing for bluegill in Florida and anywhere else is the simplicity. Anglers can enjoy many hours of fun very simple and inexpensive tackle. In many cases, a boat is not even required, though one certainly opens up more opportunities. Also, great casting skill is not required. In fact, bluegill are an excellent species to learn how to fly fish on.

Florida bluegill fly fishing tackle and flies

The basic tackle required to fly fish for bluegill certainly need not be complicated. When fly fishing for bluegill in Florida, I like to use a 9 foot 4wt rod with a floating line. The reason I go to a 4wt as opposed to something lighter is that there is always a chance to hook a decent sized bass or other species. The slightly heavier rod gives anglers a fighting chance with a big fish while still keeping bluegill nice and sporty.

Read more about Florida freshwater fly fishing charters

Due to the fact that the vast majority of bluegill fishing in Florida is not quite shallow water, anglers need nothing more than a floating line. A 5x tapered leader is fine for most bluegill and panfish applications. Anglers can certainly bump up to a 4x leader if bass are plentiful or the water is stained. Many of the Florida waters are dark and tannin stained, negating the need for a thin leader.

fly fishing for Florida bluegill

Bluegill are certainly not fussy when it comes to flies, I like freshwater trout and some other species. I use three basic flies when fly fishing for bluegill in Florida. These are a surface flies such as a popper or sponge rubber spider, and epoxy minnow pattern, and some type of woolly bugger or variation. These really are the only flies that an angler will need to have success chasing bluegill and other panfish.

I almost always start off with a surface fly, unless conditions such as a severe cold front dictate otherwise. A small popper with rubber band legs or a small sponge rubber spider are excellent choices. Color really does not matter much. I use a small epoxy minnow pattern quite often with great success. My favorite color combination is gold with a chartreuse tail. Finally, when bluegill are a little bit deeper or a bit finicky, I will slow down and go deeper with a black woolly bugger.

Bluegill fly fishing techniques

I am not getting it into fly casting instruction in this post. There are a ton of great resources both in print form and on video were anglers can easily learn to cast the 15 feet or so required to catch bluegill. Again, as stated earlier, one of the attractions to fly fishing for bluegill is the fact that experience and great fly fishing skills are not needed in order to be successful.

fly fishing for bream

In most cases, bluegill will be found around some type of cover. This can be natural cover such as vegetation as well as man-made cover including boat docks. Bluegill love would and fallen trees should always be concentrated on. No matter where an angler is fly fishing for bluegill in Florida, the techniques and flies are pretty universal.

Once a spot is chosen, the angler ties on a fly and begins to fish. One difference with fly fishing is that when has a very substantial effect. It is always best to have the wind from the back over the casting shoulder, which for most people will be the right side. If no wind is present, I will often drift along. If it is a tad breezy, I will use an anchor to keep the boat stationary.

Retrieving the fly for Florida bluegill

The fly is cast out likely fish holding cover. In Florida, this is often times the edge of some type of vegetation such as lily pads, reads, or other types of grass. Hydro will very often be found below the surface. When using surface flies such as poppers and bugs, it is important not to work the fly to quickly. After the initial cast, can be twitched sharply but subtly and then allowed to set for a fairly extended period of time. It is amazing how long a popper or top water fly will sit motionless before a bluegill takes it.

fly fishing for panfish

After the initial cast, the surface fly is twitched several more times. There is no need to work a surface fly all the way back in. Most takes will occur after the first two or three twitches. If a fish does not take the fly, it can be cast out to another spot a few feet away and the process is repeated.

The epoxy minnow fly that I like is worked a little bit more aggressively. This allows anglers to cover more water as well as attracting more active fish. It also catches plenty of bass. The fly is cast out, allowed to sink several seconds, then retrieved back in using 6 to 10 inch strips. It is important to pause between the strips hover motionless. The fly can be worked all the way back in and then recast if no take occurs.

The wooly bugger and other sinking flies are work similarly to the epoxy minnow, but quite a bit more slowly. It is important to have the fly near the bottom, but not be snagging on weeds and other debris. Short little 4 inch to six-inch strips are best again keeping the fly down deep. Bluegill will often take these types of flies on the initial fall, anglers should be alert to this.

Catching bluegill on the “popper dropper”

There is another option that I will employ when fly fishing for bluegill that can increase the odds for success, though it can be a bit trickier to cast. This is what is known as the “popper dropper”. A popper is tied onto the end of the leader and then a 16 inch to 20 inch piece of thin tippet is tied to the bend in the hook of the popper. A small unweighted subsurface fly is then tied on to the other end of the leader.

The popper suspends the submerged fly 18 inches or so below the surface. With each twitch of the popper, subsurface fly jumps up sharply and then flutters down seductively. This can be a very effective technique. Strikes are easily detected as the popper in effect becomes a float, giving anglers a visual signal when a take occurs.

I like to use the strip set method when fly fishing for bluegill in Florida and most other species as well. When retrieving the fly I have my rod tip low near the water surface and in line with the fly line. When a bluegill takes, I pulled sharply with my stripping hand engaging the hook in the fishes mouth. Once I feel it on, I smoothly raise the rod tip up. Smaller fish can be stripped in, which will be the most common situation. A large bass or other fish may get the angler on the reel where it can be fought that way.

Best times to fly fish for Florida bluegill

Florida bluegill spawn in the summer time. This is a time of year were anglers will find concentrations of large bluegill on beds in shallow water. These are easily seen in clear water as areas of many beds which look a little bit like craters. While guarding the nest, mail bluegills are extremely aggressive and will readily take just about any fly cast into the midst. The few days before the full moon from May through September can offer fantastic fishing.

Bluegill are available on fly the rest of the year as well. It doesn’t get very cold in Florida and certainly doesn’t stay that way very long. In the cooler months, angler should avoid fishing the day or two right after a cold front moves through. This will result in strong Northeast winds and cloudless skies. After several days the wind will switch east, it will start to warm up, and the bluegill will be on the bite again.

It would be impossible to list all the productive bluegill fishing waters in Florida. I base my Florida freshwater fishing charters out of the Inverness, Florida area. I fish Lake Panasoffkee and the Withlacoochee River most often. The river gives anglers solace from the wind while Lake Panasoffkee is one of the premier panfish lakes in Florida. Lake Talquin, Lake Okeechobee, Lake Istokpoga, Lake Toho, and the St Johns River are just a few other excellent bluegill fishing waters in Florida. The reality is that most of the lakes that have decent bass populations of excellent bluegill fishing as well.

In conclusion, this article on fly fishing for Florida bluegill will encourage anglers to give this type of fishing a try when visiting the Sunshine State!

 

Florida Bluegill Fishing Charters


Florida bluegill fishing charters

Florida Bluegill Fishing Charters

In this post I will discuss Florida bluegill fishing charters. Many anglers visit Florida and take advantage of the saltwater fishing opportunities, and for good reason. However, Florida offers anglers fantastic freshwater fishing as well, and it often goes under utilized. This is especially true when it comes to fishing for bluegill and other panfish.

Read more about Florida bluegill fishing

My name is Capt. Jim Klopfer and I have been a fishing guide in Florida since 1991. Most of that was done in saltwater in the Sarasota area. However, as I got older I really came to enjoy the peacefulness and solitude of freshwater fishing. The scenery is fantastic as well. While I certainly pursue largemouth bass, there is a special place in my heart for bluegill fishing.

fishing for Florida panfish and crappie

One of the reasons that I run Florida bluegill fishing charters is that success is virtually guaranteed. Unless weather and water conditions are terrible, anglers can expect to achieve some level of success. Also, while bluegill are available to anglers in most of the states, Florida offers larger than average bluegills when it comes to size along with good numbers as well.

Florida bluegill fishing charters

One great aspect of bluegill fishing is at the end result is often a tasty fish fry. While I enjoy a fresh fish dinner as much as anyone, I do want to make it clear that my charters are not about strictly “getting your limit”. Florida regulations are quite liberal and it comes to bluegill and panfish, allowing anglers to keep 50 fish per person. I am not keeping 100 fish on a two-person charter. I certainly don’t mind if anglers keep enough for dinner, I just want to make it clear that the trip is about catching fish and having fun and not loading the cooler.

bluegill and panfish lures

Anglers of all ages and skill levels can enjoy Florida bluegill fishing charters. The steady action that bluegill fishing usually supplies is excellent for younger kids who have a shorter attention span. However, it is also very appealing to older anglers as well, who enjoy the calm peaceful waters where bluegill thrive as opposed to making long runs in open water with a rough chop.

Techniques used on Florida bluegill fishing charters

There are several techniques that I use on my Florida bluegill fishing charters. I personally prefer to fly fish whenever possible. Bluegill are an excellent species for novice fly anglers to practice on and gain some confidence. I also enjoy casting small lures on ultralight tackle. When the client and conditions dictate, I will certainly use live bait, which in most cases is worms or grass shrimp.

Fly fishing for bluegill

fly fishing for bluegill and panfish

Fly fishing for bluegill is great fun! After just a few minutes of casting instruction, most anglers can get enough distance to catch bluegill. The good news is, this is only 15 or 20 feet, long casts are not required. As I mentioned above, this is an excellent opportunity for those interested in fly fishing to learn on a fish that’s fairly easy to catch on fly. Most of the action takes place on the surface, which just adds to the fun.

fly fishing for bluegill

I use a 4wt outfit when fly fishing for bluegill in Florida. The only reason I don’t go a little lighter is that quite often largemouth bass in the to pound to 4 pound range are hooked. This 4wt rod and reel combination gives anglers a fighting chance to land a decent bass or other species. I only use a floating line, which makes picking up and casting the line easier. Popping bugs, sponge rubber spiders, and tiny streamers are the top producing flies.

Fishing for bluegill with lures

Clients catch a lot of fish casting lures on my Florida bluegill fishing charters as well. In fact, this is the approach that I use most often for a couple of reasons. Ultralight spinning tackle is easy for all clients to use, no matter what the experience level. It is an easier method of fishing that fly fishing. Casting lures is also a better option on windy days or on charters where I have two anglers.

Florida bluegill fishing charters

I use a 6 foot or 6 1/2 foot ultralight spinning rod with a matching 1000 series reel and 4 pound monofilament line most of the time. I will bump it up to 6 pound line if the water is stained or if pesky largemouth bass keep intercepting lures meant for bluegill. Even the smallest fish put up a nice little battle while larger hand sized bluegills are tremendous fun on this ultralight tackle.

I keep the lure selection pretty simple. There are a handful of baits that I use that will produce and every situation. My top lure is a 1/16 ounce black Beetle spin. This is just a miniature spinner bait. It catches big bluegill and everything else that swims. My second choice is a tiny chartreuse curly tail grub on a very light jig head. When trophy bluegill are the quarry, I will have my clients cast very small Rapala plugs.

Best 9 bluegill and panfish fishing lures

Fishing for bluegill with live bait

There is no question that live bait is very productive when chasing bluegill and other panfish. There are definitely situations on my Florida bluegill fishing charters where I opt for live bait. These can be trips where the bite is just a little off or when I have inexperienced anglers who get tired of casting lures. The two live baits that I use most often are worms in the grass shrimp. The worms I purchased in the grass shrimp I usually catch myself.

I use the same ultralight spinning tackle when using live bait as I do when casting lures. The rig is quite simple, consisting of a hook and a small float. At times I will add a tiny split shot a foot or so above the hook, went fishing in deeper water. This is as basic as fishing gets with a still a lot of fun. There’s something inherently exciting about watching the bobber disappear than feeling a feisty fish on the line! This is a type of fishing that anybody can do and enjoy.

fishing for bluegill

Waters fished on Florida bluegill fishing charters

I am based out of Inverness Florida, This is an hour or so away from Orlando and Tampa and 45 minutes from Ocala. The short drive is worth it to escape the crowds, especially during the season. The waters that I fish do not get a lot of pressure, especially on weekdays, and offer great scenery and productive fishing.

Read my article on fishing in Inverness, Florida

Lake Panasoffkee

If I had to pick one lake or body of water to fish the rest of my life to go fishing for bluegill and other panfish, it would be Lake Panasoffkee. This is a tremendous lake for both bluegill and numbers of bass. Conveniently located just west of I 75, the lake is very accessible for anglers coming from any direction. Access is also very good, with ramps at several parks and the fish camps. Bluegill are plentiful and both numbers and size and the lake also gives up some large shellcracker (redear sunfish), crappie, stumpknocker, and other panfish species.

Lake Panasoffkee is a fairly easy lake to fish as well. It is your typical Florida dog dish leg, being quite shallow with a lot of aquatic vegetation. This results in fairly easy fishing is angler simply work the holes in the weeds as well as edges and weed lines. Beds of submerged hydrilla are also productive. This is a pretty lake with very little development on it and gives anglers a true Florida fishing experience. Almost all of these Florida bluegill fishing charters produce a few bass as well.

Withlacoochee River

The Withlacoochee River is a gorgeous old Florida River! It is fairly long and flows from Silver Lake to the dam at Lake Rousseau. I fish various sections of the river from 44 launch near floral city all the way up to Dunellen. As with all River fishing, the water height and flow have a huge impact on the fishing. Also, I avoided on the weekends when air boat traffic can be heavy.

Anglers seeking a relaxed and quiet fishing charter with spectacular scenery will do well to choose a trip on the Withlacoochee. It is easy fishing, with most of the casting being done towards the shoreline edges and vegetation, very little was done out in the middle. Bird life is abundant and cypress trees and other plant life are spectacular. It is an excellent option when windy days make fishing the open waters of lakes a bit more difficult. The river also has good numbers of smaller bass and crappie.

Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes

The Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes consists of three main lakes connected by shallow rivers. In effect, this whole area is basically one big swamp with some deeper lakes mixed in. The three main lakes, or pools as a are termed, are Floral City, Lake Henderson in Inverness, and Hernando in Hernando. All three lakes have good access via nice parks with boat ramps.

The Tsala Apopka lakes are an excellent choice for anglers wanting to’s Dick around near the Inverness area as well as those staying out closer to the coast around Crystal River and want to do a freshwater fishing charter. When conditions are right, these lakes can offer some excellent bluegill fishing, as well as producing other species such as crappie and bass. Water levels are crucial to the success of fishing in these lakes.

In conclusion, this article on Florida bluegill fishing charters will hopefully give anglers the information they need to get out and enjoy fishing for these feisty little game fish!