Ah, Florida...a true fisherman's paradise. There's enough fishing to go around to fill all 365 days a year, and that's exactly why Pro Staff Teammate Bill Sikora took the plunge and headed South for good! Originally a Northerner, Bill used to do what most anglers do during the winter...meticulously organize your tackle, shine up the rods and reels, catch a case of Cabin Fever and countdown the days until Spring. But he said 'heck with that!' and ventured South and never looked back. Here's Bill's insight into the Southern Hospitality that the Sun Shine State serves up all year long:
"I can remember when I first got into Bass fishing...I was just some kid who loved to fish for Largemouth Bass, Crappie, and Bream from the banks of many South Jersey lakes. Winter was a time that put that passion on hold, and as soon as Spring started to show signs of life, I was back at it. Fast forward 35 years, I no longer have to wait to get my "Catch" on! I relocated to South Florida back in 2003, and after spending a year or so learning how to fish the local waters, I soon realized I was hooked! Then one day while reading a magazine on the toilet...an ad for a kayak changed everything I thought I knew about fishing!
Fast-forwarding through all the details of the events that transpired in my life to fuel my passion for kayak fishing, I sometimes don't realize how fortunate I am to live in South Florida...nor do I realize how bad my friends in the North have it while waiting out the winter. South Florida is an absolute fisherman's dream...you can fish 12 months a year and catch a wide variety of species. Florida's waters are packed with Largemouth Bass to Exotics, such as Blue Tilapia and "GIANT" Snakeheads, to inshore beasts, such as Snook and Redfish, to offshore species such as Kingfish, Dorado, and Sailfish. With the right equipment, anything is possible down here in South Florida, and I am proud to say I have accomplished catching fish in all types of water.
Don't get me wrong, our winter...all two to four days of it...can get cold, sometimes even hitting the 40-degree mark. However, certain bodies of water can stay relatively warm in the lower water columns. A slight tweak in your approach and presentation during weather changes is all you need to catch fish. For example, when we have our colder days, using finesse techniques such as the "Wacky Rig" or the "Drop-Shot" can yield decent fish. But when the temperatures drop for only a few days and then warm back up, the shallow areas near drop-offs warm quickly and the fish are now cruising the shallows once again. It might sound crazy to some, but basically what worked in the Summer will also work in December as well.
Just the other day the temperature was 55-degrees when I launched, so I immediately went to some areas where there were deeper drop-offs. I utilized a lipless crankbait to grab a few Bass close to the bottom. As the day progressed, the temperature rose to 80-degrees (this is why South Floridians are always sick in December). The sun was out and I hit the shallow areas with a 6" swimbait and started to catch the Exotics which had moved into those areas to warm themselves. The success of Florida fishing really comes down to these basics...know what the weather will be in the morning, rig for it, then have warmer weather set-up ready to go as well for the afternoon.
We have been very fortunate in Florida to have the Winters as we do. I can remember back in 2010 when we actually had a Winter! We had several days which reached freezing temperatures that got down into the low 20's, which really put a strain on exotics such as the Peacock Bass. That Winter freeze here in Florida killed many of the exotic and Peacock Bass species and it has taken several years for them to rebound. They are truly great fighters, so it's no doubt that they've come back strong!
You can find Peacock Bass and other exotics from Miami all the way to West Palm Beach. Snakeheads are also making their way into Northern Florida and are steadily becoming a sought after game fish. Some others are the Clown Knife Fish, Blue Tilapia, and the Sunshine Bass...Florida's version of the Striped Bass (this is a cross of a female white bass and a male striped bass).
It seems like a lifetime ago when I'd catch the 'fishermen's blues' and have to hang up the rods for the Winter, and would spend countless days organizing my tackle boxes, followed by reorganizing over and over again just to pass the time until Spring came. But thankfully that was a long time ago, and I'll never look back! So perhaps if you're one of those anglers with the 'fishermen's blues' who is doing what I used to do, perhaps it's time for a vacation! Grab your rods, head on down to South Florida, and come let Florida's Southern Hospitality serve you up one of your "Bucket-List" fish! Trust me, you won't be disappointed."
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- FishOn ProStaff