Skip to main content

4 Tips to Catch Giant Florida Spawning Bass

4 Tips to Catch Giant Florida Spawning Bass

With the nickname “Sunshine State,” it’s no surprise that Florida sees its largemouth bass spawning much earlier than much of the nation.

This head start is great for tournament circuits and it offers anglers an opportunity to practice their sight-fishing skills for a longer period. However, this is no cake walk and consistency requires an informed and measured approach.

1. Know The Timing

Given the state’s length, all of Florida’s bass do not spawn at the same time. Making his home in Clewiston, at the south end of Lake Okeechobee, Bassmaster Elite Scott Martin sees the drama unfold every year and notes that varying temperature zones will see a cascading spawn.

“We actually have a spawn on Lake Okeechobee in October,” Martin said. “You can’t necessarily depend on it, but you can definitely find fish spawning in October. November is better, December is almost full and on into January, February and March.


“I’ve seen fish on beds as late as May, so we have a a 6-month spawn — some old-timers say it’s even longer than that. Lake Okeechobee has the longest spawn in the country.”

This lengthy spawn continues through much of South Florida, but into the central region, Martin expects the action to start in December. North Florida sees its spawn kick off in Jan or February. The benefit here is the seasonal overlap.

“In Florida, you can fish all three stages of the spawn at the same time, depending on where you are,” he said. “You could be on Lake Okeechobee in January and there’s tons of postspawn fish and spawners, then at the same time, you have fresh fish coming up in Central Florida; but you go to Lake Seminole or the St. Johns River and they’re prespawn.”

2. Sensitive Creatures

The Florida-strain bass’ enormous size potential belies a pitifully low tolerance to weather changes; particularly cold fronts. When they’re on, these fish will give you all you want, but let a cold front sweep through and these big green sissies define the term “lock jaw.”

In fairness, most Florida bass, except for those in the upper extremes, simply don’t live through the true winter seasons that fish elsewhere endure. This, plus the generally shallow nature of Florida fisheries means a cold spell will shut these fish down.

Martin stresses another Florida preference: “Water clarity, water clarity, water clarity. It doesn’t matter how good those fish are biting, if the wind from a cold front muddies that water, nine times out of 10, you are not going to catch them.

“Also, spend a lot of time on your trolling motor looking for the right kind of bottom and clarity. Understand what areas of the lake in a particular year are staying clean more consistently than others, because it changes year-by-year, based on water level and amounts of submerged vegetation.”

Tip: Even if a wind doesn’t muddy your area, surface disturbance compromises sight fishing. If you’ve located fish on a wind-exposed bank, turning your boat sideways to the area and dropping PowerPoles or Minn Kota Talons or Raptors blocks the blow and leaves you with a smooth surface and better visibility.


3. Moon Meaning

We hear it so often: bass spawn on a full moon. Well, Martin said that’s not entirely incorrect—it’s just not the whole picture.

“You don’t need a moon to trigger a spawn,” he said. “The moon is a good indicator, but it’s not the indicator in Florida. These fish spawn on a warming trend.

“Those fish hold up on the cold days and they spawn on the warming trends. So, it doesn’t matter if you have a quarter moon, new moon or full moon; if it’s a warming trend and you’ve had some cold weather holding those fish back, they’re going to the hill.”

4. Bait Logic

Because Florida bass often spawn in clusters, peppering an area with moving bait presentations is a good way to get one or two to blow up, boil, chase or actually bite. In any case, such territorial activity quickly identifies an area worth exploring.

“I like a Chatterbait a swimbait, or swim swim jig and I’m looking for groups of fish moving in,” he said. “If you can find an area that has the right kind of bottom and the right depth—2 to 3 feet of water, hard sand bottom, broken grass — those area areas I’m going to spend a lot of time in.


“When I find this scenario, I’ll expand around those areas. A lot of times those bigger fish will bite those moving baits, but sometimes, you have to flip; especially when you start getting those cold fronts the arrive every week or week and a half.”

Flipping may include a range of Texas-rigged baits from lizards and creature baits, to craws and worms. He is fond of a Googan Baits flipping jig with a Googan Baits Crackin’ Craw. A 3/4-ounce jig handles most scenarios, but he’ll go as heavy as 1 1/2-ounce in denser cover.

“On the cycle of those cold days, those fish are going to gravitate toward the flipping bite on those colder days; and then on those warming trends, that’s when the moving bite tends to turn on better,” he said.

Closing with a technique tip, Martin fishing his jig with more of a swimming presentation than dragging.

“You pitch the jig beyond the target and high stick it past the cover, so it comes into the strike zone moving and falling at the same time,” Martin said. “That really makes those fish react.”

The heavy cover in which Florida bass often spawn is part of this, but it’s also because bass have a love/hate relationship with bluegill. The chunky panfish make dandy prespawn meals, but once the eggs are laid, there’re no greater threat than a nest-raiding bluegill.

“A lot of people look at a jig and say ‘That’s a crawdad,’ and it is imitating a crayfish of some sort; but in Florida, the main forage is not crayfish—it’s bluegill and shiners. That’s what swimming a jig resembles.”

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

Humminbird's TargetLock Foot Pedal Functions EXPLAINED

How to Pick the BEST Hook for Your Soft Plastic Bass Lures

Humminbird's TargetLock Foot Pedal Functions EXPLAINED

Swapping Out TOPWATER Frog Hooks for Better Hook Ups

Humminbird's TargetLock Foot Pedal Functions EXPLAINED

The BEST Hook For Catfish

Humminbird's TargetLock Foot Pedal Functions EXPLAINED

Maximize Fishing Graph Screen Inches For Maximum Fishing Data Output

Humminbird's TargetLock Foot Pedal Functions EXPLAINED

DIY Rod Build: Exceeding Expectations with the Perfect Multi-Purpose Bass Rod

Humminbird's TargetLock Foot Pedal Functions EXPLAINED

Old Town Sportsman AutoPilot 120 UNBOXING

Humminbird's TargetLock Foot Pedal Functions EXPLAINED

GENIUS Planer Board Modification Tip with Ross Robertson

Humminbird's TargetLock Foot Pedal Functions EXPLAINED

In-Fisherman's Old Town Sportsman PDL 120 Walk-Through with Thomas Allen

Humminbird's TargetLock Foot Pedal Functions EXPLAINED

Old Town Salty PDL 120 Kayak Walk-Through

Humminbird's TargetLock Foot Pedal Functions EXPLAINED

NEW In-Fisherman TV River Jet Boat: Yamaha Powered SmokerCraft Pro Sportsman 1866

Humminbird's TargetLock Foot Pedal Functions EXPLAINED

DECKED OUT 2023 Starcraft STX 2050: New In-Fisherman TV Boat

In-Fisherman Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top In-Fisherman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now