5 Time-Tested Tips to Catch Trophy Bass in Florida

By Debbie Hanson

Mar 12, 2024

List of tips to catch trophy bass in Florida including best waterways, types of habitat, when to fish for big bass, gear to use, what is a trophy bass, more

What Weight is a Trophy Bass in Florida?

Before learning about how to increase your chances of landing a trophy bass, let’s define what size or weight a trophy largemouth bass is. Based on information from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Florida-strain trophy largemouth bass must be 8-pounds to be considered a trophy. Now, let’s find out where to fish, when to fish, and what tackle you need to land a trophy bass.


1. Find Less Pressured Waterways

Fish the right waters. Do some research to find lakes and ponds that don’t get as much fishing pressure. In other words, focus on waterways that aren’t as crowded and have minimal boat traffic. If you don’t have the option of traveling to a less pressured waterway, focus your fishing efforts on quiet coves or creek mouths. The disturbance from boats and trolling motors will reduce your chances of finding larger (and much wiser) fish. Use an extremely stealthy approach whenever possible to avoid spooking big bass. Try fishing from a kayak, a small boat with oars, or a boat equipped with a shallow water anchor. Trophy bass are a challenge to catch because they are typically solitary fish that are very wary of sound and movement.

2. Know Preferred Habitat for Bass

Large bass need plenty of protective cover and food sources. Trophy fish are almost always found near protective cover such stumps, logs, rocky ledges, thick vegetation, or man-made structures (like docks or bridges). This type of habitat also helps trophy largemouth bass hide in order to ambush prey like wild shiners, bluegill, shad, crawfish, or frogs. If you can locate an area of a waterway with good cover and these types of food sources, your chances of landing a trophy bass will increase.

3. Fish During the Best Time Periods

Fish during the pre-spawn and spawning months, which is typically in the spring. Spawning depends on a number of factors such as water temperature, length of daylight, and solunar phase. Trophy largemouth bass will feed more heavily in preparation for spawning, particularly around the full or new moon periods. According to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, largemouth bass spawn when the water temperature is between 62-75 degrees. Keep your eye on the weather forecast and time your trophy bass trip during a period of stable weather, if possible.

4. Use the Right Tackle or Fly Gear

Heavy-duty line and tackle are must-haves if you want to successfully land a trophy bass. While it is possible to use light tackle to land big fish, it is much more challenging and not conducive given the type of habitat largemouth bass prefer. Since most big bass will be located in heavy cover, heavier gear is needed to get a good hookset and land a trophy bass. While the best rod and reel set up for trophy bass can vary depending on the type of baits or flies you intend to use, many trophy bass anglers prefer a medium-heavy baitcasting rod and reel setup. When fly fishing, use either a 7 or 8 weight fly rod depending on the size of the fly patterns you plan to fish with. Use an 8 weight if fishing with larger, heavier flies around thick vegetation or cover.

5. Carefully Choose Your Baits or Flies

While live bait (typically shiners or fathead minnows) generally provides the best opportunities to land a trophy largemouth bass, many anglers prefer to use artificial lures or flies. When it comes to selecting the best artificial lures; crankbait, swimbaits, and jigs are good options. Pay attention to what the bass are feeding on and use a lure that will mimic the natural forage. Baitfish or minnow-imitating flies work well (flies that resemble shad or bluegill). Large topwater poppers can also be effective at getting big largemouth bass to strike on the surface during the periods around dusk and dawn.


The best time of year for big bass will be here before you know it. Use these tips to catch trophy bass and the rush that comes with landing the fish of a lifetime!

Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit shefishes2.com or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.