When Bradenton, FL. mortgage broker Courtland Hunt competes in the St. Pete Open, he doesn’t fool around. The 2015 winner of the spearfishing tournament’s pelagic division with a 73.3-pound …
Bass Fishing the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes
The Kissimmee area might be best known for its major theme parks, including Walt Disney World, and the other many attractions that Orlando has to offer.
However, the Kissimmee Chain is also one of the best places to visit if you are an outdoor enthusiast.
As the headwaters for the entire Everglades system, the lakes in the Kissimmee Chain offer some of the best bass fishing in the entire country.
But you can’t fish just anywhere – you need to know where the best and biggest bass can be found. Here’s a quick guide to bass fishing in the Kissimmee Chain in Central Florida.
What is the Florida Largemouth Bass?
There are plenty of other fish you can go after if you’re visiting Kissimmee, but the largemouth bass is one of the most impressive.
The biggest fish in the sunfish family, it has pale green to brown-colored sides, along with a dark lateral line that spreads out in splotches near the tail.
This fish is easily confused with spotted bass and smallmouth bass but can be differentiated by its upper jaw, which extends past the rear edge of its eye.
It also has second and first dorsal fins that are separated by a dip and no scales on the anal fin or on the second dorsal fin.
Florida bass are great, as they grow to trophy size more frequently than northern largemouth due to the warm water temperatures.
Originally, this fish was only found in peninsular Florida. Today, though, it is found just about everywhere, but pure northern largemouth bass are not found here.
There are plenty of subspecies in this area, though.
The Florida largemouth bass prefers places that have plenty of aquatic vegetation, where it can find lots of cover and food.
It can live in both freshwater and brackish environments, including rivers, upper estuaries, reservoirs, ponds, and of course, lakes.
This species of fish has water temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees and is usually found at shallow depths of less than 20 feet.
It can tolerate a wide variety of bottom types and water charities, meaning it’s likely to be found just about everywhere in the Kissimmee Chain.
Tips for Bass Fishing in the Kissimmee Chain
Bass are always most likely to be found in dense vegetation, and in the lakes of the Kissimmee Chain, you’ll find expansive stretches of maidencane, knotgrass, and bulrush – all of these will help you haul in monster catches of trophy bass.
Using flipping plastic baits and slow-trolling golden shiners will produce the best results, particularly during the spring and winter months.
During the fall and summer months, you’re most likely to find bass when you’re fishing offshore with plastic worms, jerk baits, and rattling crankbaits.
Of course, regardless of when you’re headed out to fish for bass, you’ll want to arm yourself with the necessary fishing equipment.
Places to Bass Fish in the Kissimmee Chain
If you plan on heading to the Kissimmee Chain to fish, you’ll want to give yourself several days to do so. There are plenty of opportunities to find bass in this chain.
Start at the northern portion of the Chain, and you’ll be setting out in Orange County on Lake Hart (which comprises 1850 acres) or Mary Jane (1158 acres). Head south, and you’ll hit Center Lake, Trout Lake, and Coon Lake, each of which is 410, 273, and 148 acres, respectively.
Next, you’ll find Alligator Lake, at a whopping 3406 acres, Lizzie Lake, at 792 acres, and Brick Lake, which is 616 acres. You can also fish East Tohopekaliga (a massive lake of nearly 12,000 acres) or Gentry (a bit smaller, at just 1791 acres).
Ultimately, Lake Kissimmee is the best lake out of all of these if you plan on bass fishing. A 34,948-acre lake, it is situated between Lake Wales and Yeehaw Junction, smack dab in the middle of Florida.
The lake has more than 24 miles of revitalized shoreline, so there are increased numbers of largemouth bass living in the lake. Many bass, are ten pounds or more in size, as a result of spawning in the late 1990s,
You’ll find all kinds of trophy bass in this lake and you won’t have a hard time catching fish, either. Tournaments regularly yield five-fish bag limits with fish weighing 18, 20, or 25 lbs or more!
What to Keep in Mind When Choosing Your Spot
Fishing on the upper part of the Chain can be a bit challenging, especially when you consider that all of the lakes are acidic and have tannin-stained water that is relatively unproductive.
However, Alligator Lake, East Tohopekaliga Lake, and Lake Gentry all offer decent bass fishing regardless of your skill level.
You do have to watch out for hydrilla, a plant that can make navigation with a boat challenging at certain times of the year. You may want to set out with a guide who knows the waters a bit better than you might.
Keep in mind, too, that the lower Kissimmee Chain is known for being shallow and sensitive to changing weather fronts during the colder months of the year, such as the spring and winter.
On Lake Kissimmee itself, you’ll find one state park, six fish camps, and three public boat ramps where you can head out for a day of fishing.
You can also wade fish, which is a popular technique for many anglers.
Access is granted for wade fishing at many of the boat ramps and fish camps.
You can access all of the lakes in the bottom part of the chain by the boat launch in Kissimmee through the lock on Lake Tohopekaliga.
Other access points include those on Lake Cypress Rd (found by turning from C.R. 523 out of St. Cloud), and off Overstreet Rd. which is positioned onC.R. 523 (approximately 25 miles from St. Cloud).
No matter where you choose to fish on your Kissimmee vacation, you’re sure to find plenty of hot spots for bass fishing in the Kissimmee Chain. Don’t forget your camera!