Freshwater Fishing in Polk County
If Florida is the “Fishing Capital of the World” then Central Florida’s Polk County should claim the title as the “Freshwater Fishing Capital of the Fishing Capital.” Abundant sunshine and pleasant temperatures allow for year-round fishing in Polk County’s more than 550 lakes, rivers and manmade reservoirs. One of the key reasons that fishing in Central Florida is such a popular pastime is the variety of freshwater species that inhabit area waterways. With access to more than 135 square miles of fishable waters, the variety of fish inhabiting those waters and the diversity of Polk County’s freshwater fisheries, it is no wonder that Central Florida consistently ranks as one of the top freshwater fishing destinations in the World.
“Largemouth Bass Capital of the World”
The title “Largemouth Bass Capital of the World” is a testament to the king of the Polk County waters, the largemouth black bass. The largemouth black bass is the best known and most popular game fish in the World, and is Florida’s official state freshwater fish. The temperate climate of Central Florida not only allows for our waters to produce an abundance of largemouth bass, but also nurtures them to grow into very impressive sizes. Polk County is home to the state’s certified record Florida largemouth bass, which weighed in at 17.27 pounds, and of the top 15 bass lakes ranked by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, five of them are located in Polk County. Fisheries such as the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, Teneroc Fish Management Area, Mosaic Fish Management Area and the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes regularly produce catches of 10+ pound bass. A testament to the quality of the largemouth bass that the area produces, the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes produced two B.A.S.S. all-time records: Dean Rojas’ record five-bass limit weight of 45 pounds, 2 ounces (which still stands today), and the then-record four-day catch of 108 pounds and 12 ounces. While the lakes listed above generally receive the most recognition, other Polk County lakes such as Crooked Lake and Lake Weohyakapka (known as Lake Walk-in-Water) are not as widely known, but they are well known by many local anglers for producing some high quality largemouth bass.
A Fish for Every Season
While the largemouth bass may be the most popular species of fish that anglers are looking to land, they are not the only fish that inhabit the lakes of Central Florida.
Area lakes are teaming with bluegill, crappie, bream, sunshine bass, catfish, gar, tilapia and chain pickerel. In their rankings of the top fisheries the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) include a high percentage of Polk County lakes. The FWC lists six Polk County lakes in their top 13 lakes for crappie, and four Polk County lakes are listed in the FWC’s top 14 bream lakes. Many of the top largemouth bass lakes also rank highly in producing quality crappie and bream including: Lake Weohyakapka, Teneroc Fish Management Area, Mosaic Fish Management Area, Winter Haven Chain of Lakes and the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. During various times of year, different species of fish will be most active, so plan to try an array of different fishing tackle and try out a variety of techniques until you find a pattern that consistently catches fish.
Access to Quality Fishing
Residents and visitors alike find the infrastructure and support they need to be successful anglers on Polk County’s waters. Accessibility to fishing is not an issue in Polk County as there are over 115 boat ramps (20% of all the public ramps in Florida) and 14 fishing piers that provide direct access to area waters. More than 15 guide services keep their clients on the fish by providing local insights on tackle and time-tested techniques, while locally owned and operated bait and tackle shops provide a wide variety of equipment and advice. One very unique way to experience all of the best fishing Polk County has to offer is to stay at a local fish camp. Imagine you are just steps from your boat tied to the camp’s dock, or arrange for rental of a boat, with the convenience of being on the water just minutes after stepping outside your room. A dozen fish camps are located in Polk County including Camp Mack, Grape Hammock, Cherry Pocket, Camp Lester, Bannon’s Fish Camp or Jennings Resort and most allow for you to stay in cabins/rooms right on the shores of your favorite lake.
Central Florida offers a variety of ways for you, your family and friends to enjoy relaxing day fishing in Polk County. Polk County is a place that fishing is not just a pastime; it is the lifeblood of our community and surely makes us one of the top freshwater fishing destinations in the World. Begin planning your fishing vacation to Polk County to see everything Central Florida’s Polk County has to offer.