Florida is a bass fishing paradise. The state is filled with lakes and rivers that produce lunker bass on the regular.
The best bass fishing lakes in Florida range from smallish quarry lakes to massive natural lakes to giant impoundments with thousands of acres of prime bass fishing. Rivers canals, ponds, and swamps offer the angler a day of epic fishing.
Florida is a large, geographically diverse state. From Lake Seminole in the north to the Everglades and Miami canals in the south, there’s something here for every skill level.
It’s hard to narrow down the best bass waters in Florida, but hopefully, our top picks shed some light on the most incredible fisheries available throughout the state. You’ll find one or more great bass fishing spots near your home or next vacation destination.
We focus primarily on largemouth bass in this article, but as you fish down into the more tropical climes of South Florida, you won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to catch peacock bass as well as some other exotic species. Check the links to find even more fishing.
So, if you’re headed to the Sunshine State, take some time to catch monster bass. You won’t regret it.
The Best Bass Fishing in Florida
Here’s the plan: Head to Florida, find some water, and cast a jerk bait.
Okay, so it’s not quite that easy, but it’s close! There are so many places in Florida to catch trophy bass. It’s almost unfair to those who don’t live here.
Be aware that shiners are THE live bait of choice for bass fishing in all of Florida, particularly peacock bass in South Florida. So bring some along if you want to fish with natural bait.
Northern Florida Bass Fishing
Bass fishing in North Florida can be amongst the best in the country. Start on the St. Johns River and head north to Lake George and the renowned Lake Seminole.
Rodman Reservoir is another incredible bass water, and you should be able to get your hands on a lunker any time of year.
St. Johns River
St. Johns River is the longest in Florida. Running from Blue Cypress Lake to eventually connect with the Atlantic, this river has tons of areas to explore. Brackish waters throughout the system are full of largemouth bass and stripers.
You’ll find plenty of spots along the river to cast a line. You should be prepared for the time of year. It can get chilly in the winter months, even in northern Florida.
The river runs into some of the best bass lakes in the state. Lake George is a massive body of water full of giant bass, so we’ll cover that next.
Lake Poinsett is another noteworthy lake along the river. There are plenty of bass to catch here, so plan on chasing after them.
If you need more proof of the St. Johns’s prominence for bass fishing, the river hosts several big tournaments throughout the year.
Find bass along shell bars, ledges, flooded or fallen trees, pad beds, and thick grassy and weedy areas. Of course, that might sum up the entire river, so basically, chuck your bait toward some likely cover, and you’ll find them.
Much more information: Complete Guide to St. Johns River Fishing
Lake George is the second largest of Florida’s lakes. Located between Gainesville to the northwest and Orlando to the south, this lake is one of the best bass fisheries anywhere.
The Bassmaster Elite tournament was held here in 2019 on the north end of the lake, and other major tournaments regularly occur around the lake. Silver Glen Springs, Juniper, and Salt are popular areas as well.
Bass start the spawn early here. You might be able to find big fish moving into shallow spawning areas as early as mid-January, and the action lasts through May. February through April is the prime time here.
For your best chances of catching a real trophy, target them in the eelgrass surrounding the lake.
The beds should be easy to find, and the males will be holding tight, waiting for those pesky bluegills to come along and give them issues.
Toss a bluegill pattern, or if they’re finicky, a finesse bait, and you’re sure to hook into a monster.
Much more information: Complete Guide to Lake George Fishing
Head to the border of Florida and Georgia to fish this storied lake. Lake Seminole is another of Florida’s gems that hold huge numbers of trophy bass.
Consider picking up a Georgia license before launching since the lake is split between the two states. One of the best marinas is the Earl May Boat Basin in Georgia.
Tournaments ranging from local high school teams to Bass Pro events typically launch out of the Earl May, so that’s a great starting point.
If you’re new to Lake Seminole, you may do well hiring a guide. The lake’s channels are full of sunken trees, and there are a lot of floating logs around. So it’s best to proceed with caution.
As soon as you find a lily pad field, chuck a frog. Bass will punish topwater lures in the lilies.
Plenty of other vegetation offers excellent fishing, but there’s something special about a bass hitting a topwater lure in the lily pads.
Summertime finds the lake getting fairly clogged up with matted vegetation. However, big bass are hiding there if you can manage it.
Three rivers converge to form the reservoir, meaning there are multiple channels to target big fish. The Chattahoochee and Flint rivers at either end are pretty muddy, while Spring Creek between them is crystal clear. All three are worth taking a shot at for big bass.
Sneads Park, Three Rivers State Park, and Howells Landing offer boat launch facilities and bank fishing access on the Florida side.
If you’re into catching whiskery fish, look no further. Lake Seminole is among the best catfishing lakes in Florida.
Much more information: Complete Guide to Fishing Lake Seminole
Rodman Reservoir should be on your must-fish list. From epic bass fishing to incredible catfishing, this lake has it all.
In Putnam County, you can reach Rodman via the lock system on the St. Johns River or by heading to one of the public ramps at the lake.
The reservoir, also known as Lake Ocklawaha, is a relatively shallow lake strewn with ample timber and stumps. That equals prime bass country.
If you’re into fishing weed beds, check out the hydrilla, eelgrass, lily pads, and summertime vegetation mats for epic bass.
The Ocklawaha River feeds Rodman Reservoir and also has prime bass fishing. If you take the time to visit, you’ll experience the best of what Florida offers.
Alligators, turtles catching sun on logs, otters, and more inhabit the river, so bring a camera along with your spinnerbaits.
When you hit the lake, head out in marked channels. Stay clear of that inner voice telling you to stray into unmarked territory. Your boat, prop, and whoever is fishing with you will thank you. Far too many submerged logs and stumps are out there.
Rodman Reservoir is one of the top lakes we also feature among the Best Bass Fishing Lakes Near Jacksonville.
Welcome to Central Florida. Home of Mickey Mouse, amusement parks, and some of the best bass fishing in the world.
Multiple lakes should make this list. The following barely scrape the surface of what’s out there, but they are incredible places to catch bass.
And if you want to find more lakes in the vicinity, check out our Best Bass Fishing Lakes Near Orlando article.
Lake Tarpon is a short drive northwest of Tampa. The mid-sized lake is roughly 2,500 acres.
Homes, resorts, and parks line its shores, so finding public bank access can be tricky. However, the payoff is that fishing is often nothing short of epic. Many anglers consider it the best bass lake on the western coast of Florida.
Bluegill, sunfish, and all the crappie you could handle cruise around here. It’s like a buffet for the fat bass waiting in the weeds.
The lake’s topography is mostly shallow, with deep holes dotting the bottom. Head out on the water from either John Chestnut Park on the southeast shore or Anderson Park on the west.
Anglers find success here with Texas-rigged plastics, Rat-L-Traps, and spinnerbaits. Work the weed beds and floating mats for the best action.
In the hottest part of the year, it pays to target the deep holes for big bass.
Stick Marsh, or Farm 13, is on the eastern side of Indian River County.
True to its name, boaters should use extreme caution. Sticks, logs, stumps, old Fords, and the occasional washing machine are waiting to eat your boat alive in the flooded landscape beneath this reservoir.
Plan before heading to Stick Marsh, as there are fewer facilities here than many lakes on this list.
Aside from the problematic navigation, this place is a bass angler’s paradise. Anglers catch bass in the 11- to 14-pound range often enough to keep people up at night planning trips.
One reason for the giants here is the special regulations of the lake. No harvesting of largemouth bass is allowed. So catch and release only means more and bigger fish.
A series of channels and smaller washes hold big fish. The old building remnants are good places to test your luck, along with old, submerged highways. Use your fish finder to zero in on some of these places for your best chance at a monster.
Fellsmere Reservoir is a midsized lake next to Stick Marsh and Blue Cypress. Also known as Lake Eden and Headwaters Lake, Fellsmere is a must for bass anglers.
Plenty of big bass hold throughout the lake, and tossing crankbaits along underwater structure will pay off big. There’s plenty of submerged timber and stumps around the lake.
Bluegill, crappie, catfish, redear sunfish, and more are waiting for you, along with the usual largemouth bass. The Florida FWC plants this lake heavily every year to keep numbers high.
Stay at one of the many lodges or resorts around the lake and bring the family. Kids will love catching the crappie and bluegill that won’t leave a nightcrawler alone.
Lake Toho and Lake Kissimmee
Lake Tohopekaliga (Lake Toho to most people) and the Kissimmee Chain of lakes are in Polk and Osceola counties. Massive in size, there are several epic areas to target throughout the region.
You can boat from Lake Toho through Cypress, Hatchineha, Kissimmee, and Tiger lakes via the river system and locks.
Largemouth bass await in good numbers throughout the area, so wherever you head out, you should do well.
You won’t have a problem finding a place to launch your boat, though one worth special mentioning is Big Toho Marina.
Pro tournaments are held at Big Toho regularly, along with college and local events.
The draw here is the Kissimmee grass, pads, and hydrilla. Where there are grass beds, there’s giant bass waiting to smash your lure.
Plenty of bank fishing is available throughout the system, and Lake Kissimmee is perfect for those anglers without a boat.
Target areas with grass mats. These floating mats provide everything a bass wants and easy access for the bass angler.
Much more information: Lake Toho Fishing
Tenoroc Fish Management Area
Tenoroc consists of 14 old phosphate pit mines filled with water and taken over by nature. These lakes are teeming with fish, largemouth bass among them.
One of the Tenoroc lakes is specifically for kids to catch their fill, and two have ADA-accessible trails. The Florida FCW keeps the paths clear and lakes stocked with big fish.
All of the lakes have plenty of shoreline access, and other outdoor attractions include hiking trails, a clay shooting range, and archery.
There are several restrictions in place to keep this a prime fishery. The lakes are all catch-and-release only, and fishing is only available Friday through Monday. The lowered pressure keeps the fish biting.
Boats are allowed with motor restrictions, though they limit the number allowed per day. So get there early for your best chance.
Lake Istokpoga is just northeast of Lake Placid. Largemouth bass are active year-round here and can be very aggressive.
You’ll find several boat ramps around the lake, particularly on the northern and southwestern sides. Marinas keep well-stocked tackle shops. Henderson’s Fish Camp, Cypress Isle, and Trails End are great spots to launch your boat and pick up any needed gear.
Lake Istokpoga is shallow, with an average depth of six feet. Vegetation grows heavily everywhere around the lake. Cattails, hydrilla, Kissimmee grass, lily pads, eelgrass, and bulrush offer fantastic cover for bass.
Flipping soft plastics into thick cover can bring in massive bass. Topwater fishing is a good choice year-round.
Also, if you like to use live bait, try fishing with shiners here.
They can be very effective for bass and may additionally attract the attention of a school of speckled perch and demonstrate why Lake Istokpoga is among the best crappie fishing lakes in the state.
Much more information: Lake Istokpoga Fishing
Bass are everywhere in South Florida. There are so many exotic species out there alongside the bass that you never know what you’ll catch from one cast to the next.
Lake Okeechobee, or the Big O, is Florida’s largest lake. It’s also home to some of the biggest bass around and is considered by many to be the very best bass lake in the state.
It’s located in the south-central portion of the state, about 1 ½ hour south of Orlando and about 2 hours north of Ft. Lauderdale.
Okeechobee is massive, coming in as the eighth-largest freshwater lake in the country. Roughly 725 square miles of bass fishing paradise await you here.
Start your quest for monster bass at South Bay, Little Grassy, Monkey Box, or King’s Bar. Roland Martin Marina and Resort hosts several pro tournaments and is another fantastic area to target. With the lake’s size, starting at one of these spots should make it feel more manageable.
Seek out bulrush, reeds, hydrilla, and eelgrass. Toss a Texas-rigged Senko, square bill, or topwater lure at these weed beds throughout the year.
Fishing the spawn is the golden time at Big O. The weeds are excellent places to find spawn beds. You might catch your new PB, and a world record is within the realm of possibility.
There are plenty of places to stay around the lake, along with dining, tackle shops, guides, and more. If you doubt the claim Lake Okeechobee is one of the best in the world, it literally has the Rowland Martin Marina. That should tell you something.
Much more information: Lake Okeechobee Fishing
Golden Gate Canal System
The Golden Gate Canal is between Naples and the Everglades National Park. It’s the perfect place to catch hard-fighting peacock bass and Oscars.
Largemouth bass are more active in the cooler winter and spring months and can grow to massive sizes throughout the canal system.
Peacock bass love warmer water and are active year-round. Target them with shiners for your best chance, though they also chase topwater baits aggressively.
Largemouth bass typically spawn in the winter here, so the cooler months are great for targeting trophies. Search out the beds in the hydrilla and eelgrass and toss a Texas-rigged Senko or other soft plastic.
While this is primarily a bass article, fishing these canals gives you a fantastic opportunity to bring in an Oscar. These hard-fighting members of the cichlid family are abundant throughout the lake.
While fishing here, you might even get into a snook or tarpon. They head in from the bays and can be a big surprise while tossing bass lures.
Alligator Alley is calling. Mile marker 35 is the place to go for epic bass fishing. Bass, alligators, American crocodiles, giant snakes, and who knows what else, await the intrepid angler in the Everglades.
Largies and peacock bass are cruising around the marshy canals and channels throughout the system. The place is huge, with over 1,000 square miles of marsh and canals.
Be aware that alligators and crocs are everywhere, so anglers must pay attention. It would make an incredible fishing story, but not worth risking your life. So keep one eye on the bank while fishing.
When fishing in the Everglades, be aware of any special regulations. The entire system requires artificial baits and lures only. No live or dead baits are allowed.
The best times to fish here are when the water is dropping. The entire Everglades system is affected by water level fluctuation. High water allows the fish to spread out. Falling water levels cause the fish to congregate in the deeper canals.
The best access is either along the shore (watch out for toothy visitors) or by kayak. Paddling the canals can pay off big.
Very early spring is the best time of year, with bass caught on almost every cast. Reports of 100+ fish days are common. Again, let me repeat: 100+ fish. In a single day.
Soft plastics, shallow crankbaits, and topwater lures all do well here. Peacock bass smack a topwater like nothing you’ve experienced before. These things fight like a truck when hooked. Be ready for a tough battle.
Use shiner patterns for your best chance at a peacock.
Oscars live throughout the system and fight like crazy for their size.
There are several fantastic areas to fish along Alligator Alley, which stretches from Ft. Lauderdale to Naples.
Everglades Holiday Park, Mile Markers 35 and 41, and Sawgrass Rec Center are the best places to hit the water.
Much more information: Complete Guide to Fishing the Everglades
Miami Airport Lakes
The Airport Lakes, or Blue Lagoon, is the place to go for the Florida peacock bass. The water is full of them and is regularly stocked to keep numbers high.
These Miami lakes are prominent in our more detailed Best Peacock Bass Fishing in Florida article, which also shows you how to catch peacocks and more information about top spots.
Everything you could hope to catch is in this system. Exotic species are everywhere, and the lock system that leads to salt water even allows tarpon, jack crevalle, and snook to come into the lakes, getting trapped when the locks close.
Bring your shiners and prepare for a blistering day of peacock bass. They are going to wear you out fast. Peacocks are considered the hardest-fighting fish in Florida, pound-for-pound. Be prepared for that.
Largemouth bass are also abundant and can be caught in the highest numbers from late winter through early spring.
Fishing in the lakes is fantastic, and with the city of Miami surrounding you, it provides a unique experience for anglers from around the world.
Lake Ida and Lake Osborne
Head to Boynton Beach or Delray Beach and hit these incredible lakes. Largemouth and peacock bass are everywhere, and sunshine bass, Mayan cichlids, and clown knife fish are abundant and waiting.
Lake Osborne starts in Boynton. Canals and marshes connect it to Lake Ida to the south.
Both lakes have a lot of structure. Bridges, docks, seawalls, channels, and cuts are abundant. Target these areas for bass.
Shiners will bring in the highest number of peacocks, though topwater lures tossed around the docks will also pay off.
If you’ve ever seen a clown knife fish, you’ll want to catch one. There are a lot of them here, and they are incredible fighters. Definitely worth targeting.
Several canals and channels throughout the system also offer unique fishing spots full of peacock bass.
Catch More Bass
Check out our full guide to the best bass fishing techniques and tips.