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Florida Striped Bass and Hybrid striper Fishing

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Florida Fish & Wildlife Saltwater / Freshwater Fishing Regulations

Florida Striper Record Striped bass 42.25 Apalachicola River Gadsden 12/14/93 Alphonso Barnes Florida Hybrid (Sunshine Bass) Record

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Florida Striped Bass Fishing reports.
Tides for the Florida Coast

Florida Striped Bass Fishing

Striped bass are one of the nation's most popular coastal sport fishes. Further north along the Atlantic seaboard the fish spawn in fresh water but migrate offshore to mature. Due to Florida's warm temperatures, however, stripers here behave differently. In Florida, stripers spawn in freshwater coastal rivers only to a very limited extent and stay in fresh water to mature. They cannot survive the warm ocean temperatures. Even in fresh water, they are confined to areas near springs during summer where they frequently lose weight, even in 72 F water. read more at
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Sunshines are artificially spawned by biologists with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission in hatcheries at Green Swamp and in northwest Florida. They are created by crossing eggs from white bass with sperm from striped bass, according to freshwater fisheries exec Bob Wattendorf. The result is a silvery, striped fish that looks a bit like both parents, and reaches a maximum size somewhere between the pan-sized whites and the leg-long stripers.

Florida sunshine Bass. The hybrid striper

The species called the "Sunshine Bass"does best in chilly water like the 50's and the 60's. This is prime time for these lure eating torpedoes.

The state record on sunshines is 16.31 pounds, and similar crosses around the nation have produced even larger fish, up to the 27-pound, 5 ounce all-tackle record caught in Greers Ferry Arkansas

The FFWCC stocks about 1 million sunshines per year in lakes around the state. One of the best spots anywhere happens to be in Hillsborough County; Medard Reservoir, southeast of Brandon, gets 70,000 per year. The 700-acre lake is rated one of the top 10 spots in the state for catching sunshines.

Other recommended spots include the St. Johns River, which also boasts lots of adult stripers of 10 to 15 pounds, the Ocklockonee River and its headwaters at Lake Talquin near Tallahassee, and the Apalachicola River below Woodard Dam, definitely the best spot in the state for sunshines, stripers and whites - state records for all three species came from this area.

All three species have similar life patterns. They live mostly in open water, where they prey on shad and other schooling baitfish; studies have indicated they rarely prowl the grassy shores, and so don't compete with largemouth bass for food. More importantly, they rarely feed on bass fingerlings.

And all prefer cool water, and will travel miles to seek it out in summer. They feed and grow best at water temperatures in the 60s and low 70s. In spring, all attempt to migrate up rivers to spawn. But in Florida, there are few rivers long enough or with enough flow to allow the fertilized eggs to float the required time before encountering saltwater, so natural spawning is almost nonexistent.

However, biologists have discovered that put- and-take stocking has created a whole new fishery, but one that's still little-known compared to the pursuit of natural species like bass and crappies.

Catching sunshines is a matter of locating them, for the most part; they're not hook-wary. One tactic that's effective is to motor slowly across deep, open portions of a stocked lake or river and look for balls of bait on a depthfinder.

They also frequent mid-lake humps and drop- offs. And they're attracted to flowing water, so areas below flowing dams are always a good bet. And at times, they chase bait to the surface and attack, much like Spanish mackerel in saltwater.

When they're deep, the best offerings are small jigs, jigging spoons fished vertically and small diving crankbaits or vibrating lures like the Rat-L- Trap. Topwaters work when the fish school on top.

Even better are small minnows - the Missouri minnows used for crappies work fine - and surprisingly, fresh-cut saltwater shrimp. The latter is fished in pieces about 2 inches long, right on bottom. The sunshines scarf it up like bottom-feeding catfish. And at Medard Reservoir, you may catch as many channel cats as sunshines with shrimp on the bottom; the lake is loaded with them.

Though sunshines are usually pan-sized in our area, 1 to 2 pounds, they put up a fight out of proportion to their size. The battle is similar to that of a redfish, with fast, powerful runs and lots of direction changes. They don't jump, but otherwise they put on a great show.

And some reach weights over 6 pounds at Medard. A 6-pound sunshine fights like a 10-pound largemouth; it's a formidable opponent on the light tackle that works best - most anglers use 8- pound-test spinning gear.

The limit is 20 per day, to include no more than six over 24 inches. Medard Reservoir is located off Turkey Creek Road, south of State Road 60 in eastern Hillsborough County.

Fishing Locations for stripers in the state of Florida

1. Apalachicola River / Lake Seminole Striped bass, sunshine bass, and white bass.

This is where the big boys are. The state record striped bass (42.25 pounds), sunshine bass (16.31 pounds), and white bass (4.69 pounds) all were caught in the Apalachicola River / Lake Seminole system. Striped bass (500,000) and sunshine bass (200,000) are stocked into Lake Seminole annually. Lake Seminole, a 35,000-acre reservoir located on the Florida-Georgia border in Gadsden and Jackson Counties, is the headwater of the Apalachicola River. In Lake Seminole, striped bass and sunshine bass congregate along the old river channels and the lower lake near the dam during fall and winter, and migrate up the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers during the spring. Larger fish move to cool water springs, which are closed to fishing, during the summer.

Fish are discharged downstream into the Apalachicola River during high water. Striped bass greater than 20 pounds and sunshine bass in the 7 to 10 pound range are common. Striped bass in the 40 to 60 pound range have been caught or collected from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river system.

Striped bass and sunshine bass move throughout the Apalachicola river system during the fall and winter, and can be caught from the dam to the coast. Larger fish migrate up the river and congregate below the dam during the spring.

2. Lake Talquin / Ochlockonee River Striped bass and white bass.

Striped bass are stocked annually into Lake Talquin and discharged downstream during high water. Striped bass in the 10 to 20 pound range are common. Fish in the 20 and 30 pound range are becoming common, and fish over 40 pounds are not unheard of. White bass were introduced during the 1980's. While the white bass population has been impacted by drought conditions during recent years, a rebound is expected following flood conditions during 2003. Three to five pound white bass were common prior to the drought.

Striped bass can be found throughout the reservoir during the fall and winter, particularly along the old river and creek channels. They migrate up the Ochlockonee River during the spring and congregate in creeks with coolwater discharge during the summer. Fish discharged to the lower Ochlockonee River move throughout the system during the fall and winter, and migrate upstream, congregating below the dam, during the spring.

3. St. Johns River Striper bass and sunshine bass.

Stripers are stocked annually. Sunshine bass stocking was suspended during the late 1990s, but a few fish, along with migrants from the Oklawaha River are till being caught. Striped bass in the 8 to 12 pound range are common. Fish over 20 pounds are rare. Sunshine bass in the 5 to 7 pound range are common. Hybrids over 10 pounds are uncommon.

Striped bass and sunshine bass move throughout the system during the fall and winter. Important areas include the mouth of Lake Monroe (particularly the RR trestle and I-4 bridge pilings), the jetties and the bombing ranges in Lake George, the lower Oklawaha River, Buffalo Bluff, Shands Bridge (I-95) in Green Cove Springs, and Buckman (I-295) and other bridges in Jacksonville. Larger fish congregate in creeks with coolwater discharge and in large springs, such as the Croaker Hole, during the summer.

4. Blackwater / Yellow rivers striped bass.

Striped bass are stocked annually. The major fishery is in the upper Blackwater Bay, in Santa Rosa County, near the mouths of the rivers during the fall and winter. Unlike other fisheries in the state, this fishery is best at night. Fish migrate upstream during the spring. Fish in the 10 to 20 pound range are common. Fish in the 20 to 30 pound range are occurring more frequently.

5. Choctawhatchee River Striped bass and sunshine bass.

Either striped bass or sunshine bass are stocked annually. The main fishery is in the lower portion of the river, between State Road 20 and Choctawhatchee Bay, in Walton and Washington counties, and occurs during the fall and winter. During the summer, striped bass congregate in and around tributaries exhibiting coolwater discharge.

6. Escambia River Striped bass and sunshine bass

Escambia River and Bay, in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, was stocked annually with sunshine bass until 1999. Large fish in the 10-12 pound range are still being caught. Striped bass (200,000 fingerlings) were stocked in 2002, and sunshine bass (500,000 fingerlings) in 2003. Striped bass and sunshine bass year classes will be alternately stocked in the future.

Striped bass and sunshine bass are found in the lower 10 miles of the river and upper bay during the fall and winter. Sunshine bass exhibit a small run up river during the spring. Striped bass will make a stronger spring run up river, beginning in 2004.

7. St. Mary's River Striped bass.

Striped bass are the principle sport fish in the St. Mary's and Nassau rivers, which are interconnected via the Amelia and South Amelia rivers (Intracoastal Waterway). The St. Mary's Nassau system also connects to the St. Johns River through Sister Creek (Intracoastal Waterway). Fish are stocked into both rivers, although migration from the St. Johns River or natural reproduction is the main source of fish. Striped bass tend to overwinter in the lower portions of the system, and move upstream above U. S. Hwy. 17 during the spring. On the St. Mary's River, look for stripers between I-95 and the town of St. Mary's near the mouths of the larger tributaries, along the deeper banks, and the I-95 bridge pilings. On the Nassau River, striped bass are most commonly found from the confluence with Thomas Creek to below U.S. Hwy. 17 in the vicinity around Pearson Island. In both rivers, striped bass congregate in or near tributaries with coolwater discharge during the summer. Check with the local fish camp where U.S. Hwy 17 crosses the Nassau River for updates on striper fishing in the river.

8. Eagle Lake Sunshine bass

Eagle Lake Fish Management Area is a 200 acre reclaimed phosphate pit located in Hamilton County. It is stocked with 50 to 100 sunshine bass per acre annually. Sunshine bass grow rapidly because of abundant shad, reaching 6 to 7 pounds in two years. The main fishery occurs during the fall and winter months. Important habitats in Eagle Lake include deep cuts and narrow cuts between the fingers, where sand bars drop off quickly into deep water.

9. Edward Medard Lake Sunshine bass

Edward Medard Lake is a 700 acre chain of reclaimed phosphate pits located in Hillsborough County. It is stocked with 100 sunshine bass per acre annually. The majority of fish are age-0 and age-1 (1 to 2 pounds), although some two-year old fish up to 6 pounds can be found. The main fishery occurs during fall and winter months.

10. Lake Osborne / Lake Ida Sunshine bass

Lake Osborne is a 350 acre lake located in Palm Beach County. It is stocked with 28 sunshine bass per acre annually. The majority of fish caught are age-0, but some age-1 and a few age-2 are present. A good shad forage base promotes rapid growth and provides a good live-bait source. The main fishery occurs during winter and spring months.

 

Lake George : Stripers and Hybrids Left off the list.

Lake Talquin : Large Hard fighting stripers.

Offshore keys

Islamarada Hump

24° 48.206' N
80° 26.595'W

409 Hump

24° 35,853' N
80° 35,459'W

Marathon Hump

24°25,736' N
80° 45,405'W

 

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Southern Charm Fishing

 

Key west fishing guide Capt Dan Dempsey
Fishing for big game in Key West flats and backcountry Tarpon, sharks, barracuda, and whatever's biting!

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