Freshwater Fishing Spots in Florida to Visit This Fall

By Debbie Hanson

Sep 18, 2023

Overview of freshwater fishing spots in Florida to visit this fall. Which waterways, species are likely to be most active during autumn in the Sunshine State

If you’re planning a fall visit to Florida with a focus on family fishing, you have many freshwater fishing spots to choose from. Not sure how to narrow down the options? Learn more about which waterways and fish species are likely to be most active during autumn in the Sunshine State.

St. Johns River for Striped Bass

In Florida, striped bass are found primarily in the St. Johns River and its tributaries. Since this species requires long stretches of flowing water to reproduce and these conditions are rare in Florida, the St. Johns River is one of the best freshwater fishing spots in the state to catch striped bass. Try the Croaker Hole in the middle of the St. Johns River and the jetties at the south end of Lake George. Live shad are very effective, but baitfish-imitating deep diving lures in white, chrome or chartreuse also work well.

Fort Lauderdale Area Canals for Peacock Bass

Miles of urban freshwater canals in Broward County have populations of peacock bass that can be targeted from the canal banks during the fall months. Use live baitfish (shiners) or baitfish-imitating lures like topwater plugs, jigs and crankbaits. Cooler Florida winter water temperatures can cause this species to be less active, but the summer and fall months provide plenty of great opportunities to catch peacock bass. If you live in South Florida and do an online search for “freshwater fishing spots near me for peacock bass,” Broward County will be among the top options.

Sebring Area Lakes for Largemouth Bass

Lake Clay, Lake Istokpoga, and Lake June-in-Winter in Highlands County (near Sebring, FL) are all known for being fall largemouth bass fishing destinations. As the fifth-largest lake in Florida, Lake Istokpoga will offer you opportunities for trophy fish as well as one of the highest bass catch rates in the state. Stock your tackle box with soft plastic worms, lizards, and crawfish before you visit the Sebring Area.

Winter Haven Chain of Lakes for Crappie

In Central Florida, the Winter Haven Chain is known for excellent black crappie fishing during the late fall and winter months. Lake Eloise and Lake Shipp are good places to try on the south part of the chain, and Lakes Rochelle, Haines and Hartridge are good locations on the north section of the chain. To target black crappie, drift live Missouri minnows or cast bladed jigs tipped with minnows around submersed vegetation.


Now that you know about some of the fall freshwater fishing spots from the St. Johns River down through Fort Lauderdale, you can buy your Florida fishing license and get out on the water.

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 or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.