Uncover the Official Florida State Freshwater Fish (And The place You Can Catch Them)

Uncover the Official Florida State Freshwater Fish (And The place You Can Catch Them)

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The largemouth bass is Florida’s official state freshwater fish. Extra particularly, the Florida largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides floridanus) is the state’s official freshwater fish. It’s one in every of two subspecies of largemouth bass, the opposite being the northern largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides salmoides).

Uncover the Official Florida State Freshwater Fish (And The place You Can Catch Them)


Together with Florida, the largemouth bass can also be the state freshwater fish in Alabama, one in every of three official state fish in Georgia, and the only state fish in Mississippi. 

The Largemouth Bass

The largemouth bass is a member of the black bass (Micropterus) genus and a part of the Centrarchidae (sunfish) household. It’s generally confused with the noticed bass (Micropterus punctulatus), also known as the Kentucky bass.

The largemouth bass’ identify comes from one in every of its most evident options: its terribly giant mouth. As a result of this freshwater predator can open its mouth so extensive, it permits the largemouth bass to eat very giant prey relative to its measurement.

Big Largemouth Bass
The largemouth bass is immediately recognizable by its eponymous giant mouth.

©Pierre Rebollar/Shutterstock.com

The largemouth bass will not be a choosy eater. When a bass is small, it should pursue prey corresponding to bait fish, bugs, shrimp, and small crustaceans. When mature, largemouth bass will prey on smaller fish, snakes, worms, salamanders, frogs, bats, small birds, and small mammals. They’ll even goal turtle and alligator hatchlings. This aggressive predatory nature has made the largemouth bass the most well-liked sport fish amongst freshwater anglers in the US.

The largemouth bass’ reputation can also be because of its widespread vary. These fish are all over the place! You’ll be able to even catch largemouth bass in Hawaii. Whereas not native to the state, largemouth bass now swim in Hawaiian reservoirs. Actually, the one state the place you gained’t discover largemouth bass is Alaska. 

Florida’s Largemouth Bass Inhabitants

However, regardless that this fish is ubiquitous within the U.S., there is no such thing as a higher place to catch them than in Florida. The Florida largemouth bass tends to develop larger than the northern largemouth. One easy purpose is the local weather the place the fish lives. The nice and cozy temperatures in Florida are perfect for largemouth bass to develop to a substantial measurement.

The Florida report largemouth bass was caught by Billy O’Berry in Polk County. On July 6, 1986, O’Berry hauled in a lunker largemouth that weighed a whopping 17.27 kilos!

There may be some proof, although, that an excellent larger largemouth bass was pulled from Florida waters. On Might 19, 1923, Frederick Friebel allegedly caught what might have been a report Florida largemouth. Appropriately, the bass was caught in Large Fish Lake in Florida’s Pasco County. The fish, which was weighed on a postal scale, reportedly weighed in at 20.13 kilos! Nonetheless, there was no state biologist on-hand to doc the burden, which means it might’t be licensed.

Formally, O’Berry’s 17.27 largemouth holds the state report. Whereas that report has stood for nicely over three a long time, a number of catches have come oh-so-close. Florida is well-known for producing trophy largemouths. So the place do you have to go to catch them?

Trophy Largemouth Bass
Lunker largemouth bass will be caught all through Florida.


Florida has so many lakes that, should you have been to fish all of them, it might take you greater than 20 years of consecutive fishing days to fish each simply as soon as! We’re going to slender it down slightly bit (okay, so much!). 

Mud off your tacklebox and seize your favourite fishing rod, as a result of listed here are the perfect fishing spots to land some Florida “bucketmouths.”

Lake Okeechobee

When a lake’s nickname is Bass Capital of the World, it’s a reasonably good guess that it’s a hotspot for largemouth bass. Whereas it’s tough to show conclusively, it’s broadly believed that Lake Okeechobee holds extra 5+ pound largemouth bass than some other lake on the earth. Contemplating the variety of five-pounders which are caught right here, it’s onerous to argue. Some skilled information companies declare that as much as 80% of their guided fishing excursions land at the very least one five-pound largemouth. Once more, we are able to’t show it, however anecdotal proof will surely assist these claims.

Lake Okeechobee
Florida’s Lake Okeechobee is called the Bass Capital of the World.

©Allison Michael/Shutterstock.com

Typically known as Florida’s inland sea, Lake Okeechobee is the biggest lake in Florida and the second-largest freshwater lake that lies totally inside U.S. boundaries. The lake is contained by the Herbert Hoover Dike which was constructed in 1928.

 Okeechobee means “massive water” within the Seminole Indian language, and this lake is precisely that. It options 730 sq. miles of floor space. It’s surprisingly shallow, although, with a most depth of 12 toes and a median depth of solely 9 toes. 

The waters of Lake Okeechobee teem with life. The lake has the next focus of alligators than some other lake in Florida. It’s estimated that 30,000 gators might reside on this lake.

It’s also house to all kinds of waterfowl and wading birds. And the fish inhabitants in “The Large O” is second to none. Crappie, bluegill, chain pickerel, gar, and catfish all swim in these waters. However the largemouth bass is the prized fish.

A number of top-tier skilled bass fishing tournaments go to Lake Okeechobee yearly. And scads of newbie anglers pull trophies out of the lake yearly. 

When you’re on the lookout for Florida largemouth bass fishing, it’s a must to begin at Lake Okeechobee.

Lake George

Lake George (generally often known as Lake Welaka) is positioned in north-central Florida, about 40 miles west/northwest of Daytona Seaside. It sits on the jap fringe of the Ocala Nationwide Forest.

It’s Florida’s second-biggest lake, spanning 46,000 acres. The lake is six miles throughout at its widest level and 11 miles lengthy at its longest level. Like Lake Okeechobee, Lake George is shallow, with a median depth of eight toes.

Lake George
The brackish water of Lake George can assist choose saltwater and freshwater species, together with tons of largemouth bass.


This lake is a little bit of an anomaly. The water is brackish and might assist each freshwater and a few saltwater species. Whereas sightings are uncommon, it’s not unprecedented to see a shark swimming in these waters. The brackish water additionally makes it a preferred spot for crab fishing. However, there are additionally a number of freshwater alligators in these exact same waters.

Whereas not as well-known as Lake Okeechobee, the bass fishing in Lake George is implausible. The lake has considerable aquatic vegetation, primarily eelgrass. Its shallow water stays heat year-round making it an exquisite ecosystem for baitfish and predators, like largemouth bass.

The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes

The Kissimmee chain is made up of quite a few lakes, from Cypress Lake within the north to Lake Kissimmee within the south. This chain of lakes encompasses an space of 21,000 acres in Polk and Osceola counties

All of the lakes within the chain characteristic fabulous fishing for crappie, bluegill, redear sunfish, and, after all, largemouth bass.

Lake Tohopekaliga Florida
Lake Tohopekaliga is likely one of the main lakes within the Kissimmee chain,

©iStock.com/Carolyn Hutchins

When you can’t go mistaken fishing this chain of lakes, Lake Kissimmee typically produces extra 8+ pound largemouth bass than some other lake in Florida.

Rodman Reservoir

Rodman Reservoir (generally known as Lake Ocklawaha) is positioned on the Ocklawaha River in north-central Florida’s Putnam and Marion Counties. Innumerable large Florida largemouths are patrolling the waters of this 9,500-acre artifical lake. Bass over eight kilos are widespread.

Rodman Reservoir features some of Florida's best bass fishing.
Rodman Reservoir options a few of Florida’s greatest bass fishing.

©iStock.com/John Hancock Images

Not too long ago, a largemouth bass was caught in Rodman Reservoir that challenged the official state report. The fish weighed 17.2 kilos, simply .07 kilos shy of tying the Florida report! This lake holds some largemouth behemoths, to make certain. And who is aware of? The longer term state report largemouth bass might come from the waters of the Rodman Reservoir.

Northern Florida is a treasure trove of giant largemouth bass. This lake close to Gainesville is a chief instance because it gives numerous trophy fish all year long.

The Tenoroc Fish Administration Space

There’s a purpose virtually 25,000 anglers per 12 months solid their traces into this collection of lakes in central Florida’s Polk County. This fish administration space is located two miles northeast of Lakeland and about an hour from Orlando and is a premier spot for Florida largemouth bass.

A Florida largemouth bass
The Florida largemouth bass entices virtually 25,000 anglers a 12 months to go to the Tenoroc Fish Administration Space.


The Tenoroc Fish Administration Space is a collection of 14 lakes fashioned from reclaimed phosphate pits. This fishery options an exceedingly wholesome inhabitants of largemouth bass. Fish exceeding 9 kilos are commonplace.

As a way of conserving this excellent fishery, largemouth bass fishing is strictly catch-and-release.

Lake Seminole

Bassmaster, one of the crucial elite skilled bass event organizations on the earth, held a event on Lake Seminole in February 2023. The successful angler of the four-day event reeled in an astounding 85 kilos and a pair of ounces value of Florida largemouth bass!

This lake straddles the border of Georgia and the Florida Panhandle. The Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam created the lake in 1952. This 37,500-acre impoundment is fed by the Chattahoochee, Flint, and Apalachicola Rivers.

Lake Seminole
Lovely Lake Seminole is a honey gap for Florida bucketmouths!

©Carolyn Davidson Hicks/Shutterstock.com

As a result of the realm was created via dam flooding, there may be a number of submerged timber and construction that make excellent bass habitat, together with plentiful aquatic vegetation. 

This lake is kind of presumably the premier Georgia vacation spot for trophy largemouths. And even in Florida, with its countless provide of largemouth fisheries, Lake Seminole is persistently top-of-the-line.

Lake Talquin

This 8,800-acre reservoir is positioned proper exterior Florida’s capital metropolis of Tallahassee. As a part of Lake Talquin State Park, wildlife abounds across the lake. Sightings of turkey and deer are widespread. An occasional bear may even present up. Whereas fishing Lake Talquin, look as much as the sky since you simply may see an osprey or bald eagle flying overhead. The lake additionally options alligators, turtles, and snakes. That is Florida, in any case.

Lake Talquin Florida
Lake Talquin affords distinctive bass fishing proper exterior Florida’s capital metropolis.

©iStock.com/Patrick Jennings

As for fishing, Lake Talquin is stacked with bass. Together with largemouth, there are wholesome populations of white bass, striped bass, and noticed bass on this lake. And, together with a excessive amount of bass, there may be additionally prime quality. Large largemouths patrol these waters and are caught with regularity.

When you’re visiting Florida’s capital metropolis, remember to make time to land just a few of Florida’s official state fish whilst you’re there!

Everglades Water Conservation Areas 2 and three

These two sections of northern Everglades habitat typically characteristic a number of the greatest fishing in all of Florida. The water of the marshes and canals of those two water conservation areas teem with fish together with bluegill, redear sunfish, pickerel, oscar, and Mayan cichlid. However there is no such thing as a doubt that largemouth bass are the star attraction. When water ranges are proper, these two Everglades water conservation areas characteristic a number of the highest catch totals for largemouths within the state.

Silhouettes of tin boats sit on the shore of the Everglades in South Florida
The waters of Florida’s Everglades maintain some monster largemouth bass.

©jaimie tuchman/Shutterstock.com

The proximity to high-population areas makes this fishery accessible to hundreds of anglers. Fishermen and ladies from Palm Seaside, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties all have easy accessibility to those waters.

The preferred time to fish these water conservation areas is throughout the winter and spring seasons. Decrease water ranges usually drive fish into the perimeter canals, making a excessive focus of fish in comparatively small areas. When water ranges are up, it permits fish entry to the sprawling marsh methods in these areas. The fishing can nonetheless be fairly good, however the fish are unfold over a a lot wider space.

Fellsmere Reservoir (also referred to as Headwaters Lake or Lake Egan)

This newcomer to the Florida bass fishing scene is already making waves, should you’ll pardon the lake pun. It was solely opened to boat visitors in 2020. Earlier than that, it was restricted to kayaks.

This 10,000-acre artifical lake in Indian River County was created via a system of levees. Previous to flooding the realm, there have been already small ponds within the neighborhood that have been house to largemouth bass and different sport fish. 

Largemouth bass jumping at the surface fighting a minnow imitation lure.
Fellsmere Reservoir is one in every of Florida’s latest places for largemouth bass fishing.


The land was transformed right into a reservoir that would offer water for the city of Fellsmere, a supply of irrigation for farmland, flood management, and a top-notch fishery.

Every thing about this lake was created with bass fishing in thoughts. Construction and habitat for bass have been put in place earlier than the land was flooded. As soon as water coated the land, near 1,000,000 Florida largemouth bass have been stocked, together with crappie, bluegill, and redear sunfish.

Lake Tarpon

Positioned ten miles northwest of Tampa in Tarpon Springs, Lake Tarpon is 2,500 acres of prime Florida bass fishing actual property. The lake stretches for almost 9 miles and is surrounded by resorts, golf programs, and residential housing. Two county parks are additionally discovered on the lake, every with boat ramps. The entry factors and fishing alternatives in Lake Tarpon are many.

Lake Tarpon features some of the best bass fishing in western Florida.
Lake Tarpon options a number of the greatest bass fishing in western Florida.

©Greta H/Shutterstock.com

You gained’t discover many locations in western Florida with more healthy populations of huge largemouth bass. Quite a few bass tournaments are held on the lake yearly. It persistently ranks within the prime ten bass lakes within the state.

Together with largemouth bass, Tarpon Lake is an excellent fishery for blue tilapia, sunfish, catfish, bluegill, and crappie. The shallow water stays heat all year long, permitting aquatic vegetation to proliferate. All of it provides as much as excellent situations for a vibrant fishery, particularly for largemouth bass.

So Many Extra!

That is only a small pattern of the new fishing spots that Florida has to supply. The largemouth bass has been Florida’s official state freshwater fish since 1975, and it’s simple to see why. There could also be nowhere else on the earth with higher bass fishing than the Sunshine State!

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