Florida And Crappie Fishing
If you’re looking for some great fishing action in a warm climate, consider heading south!
When you combine beautiful winters, bountiful vegetation, and the third largest populated state in America, you get a fishing vacation just waiting to happen!
The sunshine state isn’t just for snowbirds and retirees looking forward to an extended warm season and wonderful tax breaks but should be considered by any crappie angler as a must fish destination.
Wherever you are within the state, you’ll be within two hours of a quality fishery that can provide you with a lot of action and a tasty meal. If you’re new to the area understand that most locals refer to crappie as “specs” though most will know what you mean when inquiring about the favorite panfish.
Ranking The Top Florida Crappie Waters
When determining the overall quality of a fishery for papermouths, I like to take several things into consideration:
1.) The average size of crappie you’ll harvest.
2.) The amount of crappie catches you can expect on an average day.
3.) The difficulty in locating the fish.
4.) The pressure that the fish experience in a given year.
There are several themes you’ll notice when it comes to Florida fishing starting with lake Jessup.
First off it is fed by the St. Johns River like the majority of waters on this list which means plenty of fertile water flowing in allowing both numbers and size of the specs to flourish.
Secondly, they’re located centrally in the state close to Disney World, so you can justify a trip down with your wife and kids!
Jessup would not be my first choice for wading in as it has the largest density of alligators in the state! As long as you stay in the boat though, you’ll get all the action you need using a float and minnow once you locate the fish.
Look for pockets of lily pads or other vegetation to drop your bait down into and let it sit for just a minute. If no luck, move on to the thousands of other holes!
Lake Okeechobee, located in proximity to Miami and ranking among the top ten largest lakes in the United States, is a prime destination for crappie fishermen seeking to reel in a bountiful catch. This body of water is known for its large crappie population and provides excellent opportunities for both novice and experienced anglers.
One of the most effective ways to catch crappie in Lake Okeechobee is by using a technique called spider rigging. This method involves rigging multiple lines with jigs or minnows and casting them out into the lake. When it comes to Okeechobee pinch points connecting vegetation in narrow openings are the best place to pick off the pint-sized predators. The lines are slowly retrieved, allowing the jigs or minnows to move through the water and entice the crappie to bite. This technique can be particularly effective during the pre- and post-spawn seasons, when crappie are more likely to be found in deeper water. Some anglers use a modified Carolina rig technique as well!
While spider rigging is a great way to catch crappie, most anglers also find success by jigging with ten-to-twelve-foot jig poles. This technique involves using a jig or minnow on the end of a long pole and vertically jigging. Jigging can be done year-round and can provide a lot of action for good numbers of crappie.
Overall, crappie fishing in Lake Okeechobee can be a fun and rewarding experience. With the right technique and equipment, anglers can reel in a good catch of these delicious fish. Remember that the fish can possibly be in spawn mode as early as January!
Probably the most difficult lake to fish that makes our list sits near the Sanford area of Florida close to the eastern shore and in close proximity to Lake Jessup.
Monroe is less than 9,000 acres and lacks the vast vegetation as the other lakes on the list but the two qualities that make it a top destination spot is the lack of fishing pressure and the absolute giant specs that are caught daily!
If you’re really good with electronics, then you’ll have little trouble feeling at home here. Stick to long lining as a primary tactic when fishing as you can cover the open water much quicker and really stick it to those slabs!
In south central Florida lies Lake Kissimmee and our number four lake due to its wide range of vegetation and sparse crappie populations.
Many anglers would look at a lake with an average depth of five feet and no deeper than twenty foot and think that it would be a waste of time looking for crappie here, NOT SO!
One of my favorite old school rigs, the simple float, split shot, and minnow can produce your limits quickly once you locate the fish. Some anglers fish the outskirts of the grass that are loaded with shrimp while others will park their boats in the middle of thick vegetation and vertical jig awaiting that “thump.“
The fish will be constantly on the move here so it’s best to wait them out instead of chasing them.
When you think about Florida fishing you think swamps, shallow grass, lilies, and greenery as far as the eye can see. I think lake Lochloosa near the university of Florida!
This body of water has it all really. You can catch numbers, fish fast, and often times find trophy black slabs along the way. With a nutrient rich ecosystem and beautiful scenery this is a must fish on any serious crappie angler’s bucket list!
Don’t overcomplicate things when visiting. A simple float and minnow fished along pads and grass will provide plenty of action!
St. John’s River
The beginning and ending point of many lakes on this list,
The majestic St. John’s River winds its way from south to north, traversing a dozen counties and earning its title as the largest river in Florida. Boasting a diverse array of vegetation and cover, crappie thrive in these waters, providing ample opportunities for anglers to reel in a catch. With its vast expanse, it’s easy to find a secluded spot to concentrate on your preferred fishing method.
Measuring over 300 miles in length and reaching up to 3 miles in width in certain areas, it’s recommended to focus on the backwaters and flats located between the Sanford and Jacksonville regions, where depths are typically less than six feet.
Spider rigging beyond the cover can yield large female crappie during the pre and post-spawn seasons, while jigging within the vegetation promises year-round action and plenty of bites from good-sized crappie.
For the majority of visitors to Florida, this 8,000-acre lake should be your number one go too! First of all, it sits in the panhandle and in very near proximity to the state capital where it gets the first half of its name so you know there will be plenty to do if fishing only involves part of your plans.
Second, this place produces a lot of big crappies! While a third of the country has ice on its lakes in early February, Talquin has large females ready to move shallow with aggressive males already there feeding.
This body of water has all the qualities I look for when choosing a fishing destination and above all just about any pattern can work on it in a given day.
If you’re like me and prefer to take your vacation during the cold months to head south, then be sure to pack a few fishing poles with you. Florida offers some of the very best black crappie fishing in the country and you’ll never run out of things to do.
Life maybe short but winters are long… make them an extension of your fishing time!