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Freshwater Fishing Tips From the Pros

Fishing Regulations Florida Freshwater Fishing

Making Kid Fishing Memories

Shaw Grigsby, legendary pro angler

My favorite fishing memories are not tournament wins but the times I’ve spent fishing with my kids and grandkids. The smiles on their faces and squeals of excitement as they reel in a fish are priceless. Fishing with kids can be exasperating at times if you are not prepared; it’s not the same as fishing with your fishing buddy. The most important thing to remember is that it is their day, so make it fun. Don’t hold them hostage while you run hole to hole looking for the big one. If you do, they will not want to go fishing with you again and maybe never want to fish at all. Instead, plan the day just for them and be prepared. Buy a life jacket that fits. Take sunscreen and reapply it frequently. I even have my grandkids wear long sleeve shirts. Take lots of snacks and drinks.

Keep things simple. Kids can handle a spincast reel much easier than a casting or spinning reel. I have found that a dropshot is one of the easiest and most productive bass rigs for kids. The first thing I do is change the line to 10-15 pound braid. I do not use monofilament with young kids because it stretches and they don’t get as many hookups. I rig it with a 1/0 hook and ¼ ounce drop shot weight. A Strike King Finesse Worm or Ocho are two of the best baits in Florida. My favorite colors are Junebug or Watermelon Red. Rig them Texas style, so they remain weedless in all of the vegetation we have here in Florida. The best way to fish is make a cast and drag it around. Most of the bites come as it settles or as it is sitting still. Kids usually don’t realize when they get a bite, but with the braid and the little sharp hooks, they generally hook the fish just by reeling the bait in. I let the kids reel in any fish I hook. Even if they don’t get the fish to the boat, make a big deal about the experience. Be sure to take pictures.

Introducing kids to the outdoors will make lifetime memories for you and the kids you take fishing. Just remember to have fun and make it their day.

Optimize Your Sonar Settings

Edwin Evers, 11-time B.A.S.S. winner including the 2016 Bassmaster classic, and winner of the 2019 REDCREST MLF Bass Pro Tour Stage Two in Texas and MLF Bass Pro Tour Points Championship

When it comes to electronics, a question I get asked a lot is, “How do you customize your fishfinder settings at the beginning of a day on the water?” The short answer is, “I don’t.”

You might think that a guy who makes his living with a rod and reel and who’s always looking for ways to tweak a lure or find a stronger knot would spend a lot of time tinkering with his electronics to get them dialed in just right. One of the best features about Lowrance’s fishfinder/chartplotter displays is that they’re so intuitive that they’ve removed the need for guesswork and a lot of customization. Before I take off to start my fishing day, 90 percent of the time I just start my Lowrance HDS LIVE displays when I launch in the morning and turn them off when I put the boat back on the trailer at the end of the day. Generally speaking, these units do everything I need to do automatically, so I can focus on fishing.

The only time I make any adjustments is with the SideScan with Active Imaging. If I’m in 10 feet of water, I’ll set the Active Imaging to show me a range of 60 to 80 feet on either side of my boat. At 30 feet, I’ll double that, but no wider. That’s because I’m often using it to look for actual fish, and they can be easy to miss if you don’t keep your Active Imaging range tight. If you’re looking for great electronics that will help you find and catch fish just by turning them on, check out Lowrance (www.Lowrance.com). It won’t let you down!

Join the Kayak Revolution

Eric Jackson, World Champion Whitewater Kayaker, Olympian, FLW Touring Pro, and founder of Jackson Kayak and Apex Watercraft

Kayak fishing has exploded over the past 8 years. There are a number of reasons for that, but it can basically be narrowed down to modern designs that make fishing easier and more productive for almost anyone. With no motor to fuel, no batteries to charge, and the ability to float in a few inches of water and get where powerboats can’t go, the attraction makes sense. In fact, the best way to enjoy bass fishing many of Florida’s 8,000 lakes, marshes, and ponds is out of a kayak, especially if you encounter no motor rules, difficult access, or shallow, weedy water.

There is something for everyone in kayak fishing. Florida is a particularly great place for kayaks, especially the simple paddle drive kayaks that go through heavy weeds, super shallow water, and can be easily transported from your vehicle to the water, even if you have to cover some distance. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy kayak fishing and maximize the benefits it has to offer (See www.Facebook.com/Apexwatercraft).

Go Light

  • Choose a lightweight boat. Every kayak manufacturer puts the boat specs on their website. The lighter the boat, the easier it is to get to and from the water, as well as on and off your vehicle.
  • Pack light by bringing only a few rods, and by combining your tackle boxes into just one or two boxes with the tackle you want to use that day.
  • Leave it home or in your vehicle. You don’t need to bring an abundance of stuff to fish a day on the water. Remember you’ll have to load it on, drag it to the water and back and unload. Pack light, means pack less and spend less time packing. Spend more time fishing.

Learn efficient and effective paddle strokes

In a kayak your body is your motor and your paddle is your propeller. There are instructional videos on paddle strokes online that will make you last longer on the water, go faster, and be more effective going where you want to go.

Use Google Earth or Maps in satellite mode

Find new waters to fish, and catch more fish. Find marshes on the big lakes where big boats can’t go and expect better fishing, or find small ponds, creeks, and marshes that don’t get any pressure. You’ll have new waters to fish every time you go out if you want to as the quantity of amazing fishing that exists in Florida is ridiculous!

Tips from the Pros – END

Note: Neither the FWC nor the State of Florida endorse any individual company or product.