Where to fish for tilapia: tips from the pros

Tilapia is a fish species that originated from the Middle East and Africa. If you are wondering where to fish for tilapia, they primarily inhabit the Southeast U.S. They are known to be great table fare for their mild taste, making it one of the most-consumed fish in the U.S. and a common staple of many commercial seafood suppliers.

Tilapia tend to be flighty and are herbivores who aren’t easily tempted by baits which adds to the challenge of catching one. Similar to grass carp, tilapia are often stocked to help control aquatic vegetation. Here are tips from seasoned tilapia anglers about where to fish for tilapia.

Where to Fish for Tilapia

  • By state: Florida, Alabama, and Texas are where you’ll want to begin your exploration of where to catch tilapia fish.
  • By water type: Tilapia often inhabit brackish or fresh water estuaries.
  • By water body: Most ponds, rivers, canals, and lakes.
  • By season: The tilapia spawning season affects where to catch tilapia fish. You can find them spawning in shallower water typically throughout the year, but they will stop when the water temperature drops below sixty degrees.
  • By bait: As herbivores, it’s difficult to catch a tilapia on a baitfish. Stick with bread balls, peas, or corn. Sometimes, tilapia will go for earthworms or artificial lures that resemble tiny fish or invertebrates.
  • By tackle: Light tackle is needed for tilapia fishing. Use 4-to-8 pound test line rigged on a small spinning reel with small #4 or #6 size hooks.

Use our interactive map to find more tips on where to fish and boat. If you zoom in close on a particular water body in your area, you can click the “Fish Species” button to see what catches have been reported there. Be sure your fishing license is up-to-date before you go. Happy fishing!

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Alycia Downs

Alycia Downs

Alycia Downs is a freelance content creator and avid sportsman who contributes to numerous publications promoting tourism, fishing, and outdoors. Alycia is a member of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association and is actively involved with conservation and fishing non-profit organizations. Visit her personal blog at tideandtale.com or on Instagram @tideandtale.