Common Names - black bass, Florida bass, Florida (or southern) largemouth, green bass, bigmouth, bucketmouth, linesides, Oswego bass and green trout.
Description - The largemouth is the largest member of the sunfish family. It generally has light greenish to brownish sides with a dark lateral line which tends to break into blotches towards the tail. Often confused with smallmouth and spotted bass, it is easily distinguishable because the upper jaw extends beyond the rear edge of the eye. Also, its first and second dorsal fins are almost separated by an obvious deep dip, and there are no scales on the soft-rayed second dorsal fin or on the anal fin.
Habitat - Prefers clear, nonflowing waters with aquatic vegetation where food and cover are available. They occupy brackish to freshwater habitats, including upper estuaries, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and ponds. Also, they can tolerate a wide range of water clarities and bottom types, prefer water temperatures from 65 to 85 degrees, and are usually found at depths less than 20 feet.
Sporting Qualities - The largemouth bass is Florida's most popular freshwater game fish. Much of its popularity is due to its aggressive attitude and willingness to strike a lure or bait with explosive force. They will strike almost any kind of artificial lure or live bait, but most are taken on plastic worms, surface plugs, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, bass bugs and shiner minnows.
World Record - 22 pounds, 4 ounces, caught in Montgomery Lake, Georgia in 1932.
Certified State Record - 17 pounds, 4-1/4 ounces, caught in an unnamed lake in Polk County in 1986.
Uncertified State Record - 20 pounds, 2 ounces, caught in Big Fish Lake (private pond) in Pasco County in 1923.
Common Names - spotted cat, blue channel cat, river catfish
Description - Channel catfish closely resemble blue catfish. Both have deeply forked tails. However, channels have a rounded anal fin with 24-29 rays and scattered black spots along their back and sides. They have a small, narrow head. The back is blue-gray with light blue to silvery-gray sides and a white belly. Larger channels lose the black spots and also take on a blue-black coloration on the back which shades to white on the belly. Males also become very dark during spawning season and develop a thickened pad on their head.
Habitat - Most common in big rivers and streams. Prefers some current, and deep water with sand, gravel or rubble bottoms. Channel catfish also inhabit lakes, reservoirs and ponds. They adapt well in standing water where stocked.
Sporting Qualities - Most channels are caught by bottom fishing with baits such as dried chicken blood, chicken livers or gizzards, and nightcrawlers. They prefer dead or prepared stinkbaits to live bait, but at times will take live minnows and lures such as spinners and jigs. Strong fighters with good endurance, they are frequently caught on trotlines. Since channel catfish can also be taken by commercial fishermen, except where stocked by the Commission, they are not legally classified as sportfish. However, specific regulations apply and they are eligible for the "Big Catch" program.
Records - World Record: 58 pounds, caught in the Santee-Cooper Reservoir, South Carolina, in 1964. State Record: 44.50 pounds, caught in Lake Bluff, Lake County, in 1985.
Common Names - speckled perch, specks, papermouth, bachelor perch, calico bass, strawberry bass, or white perch.
Description - The black crappie is a silvery-green to yellowish fish with large dorsal and anal fins of almost identical shape and size. The sides are marked with black blotches which become more intense towards the back. The dorsal, anal, and caudal fins also are marked with rows of dark spots. Crappies have compressed bodies, small heads and arched backs. It has a large mouth with an upper jaw extending under the eye.
Sporting Quality - Black crappies are excellent game fish and are highly regarded by bait fishermen and artificial-lure anglers alike. They are easily caught during prespawning periods when the fish are congregated in large schools. Trolling with small, live minnows or a spinner-fly combination is very productive. They will also strike subsurface flies, small spinners, jigs, and tiny crankbaits. Crappies tend to suspend in midwater, so you may have to experiment to find the right depth. As a sport fish, specific bag and size limit regulations apply, and you can register a qualifying catch as part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's "Big Catch" program. See the American Crappie Association for more.
World Record - 4 pounds, 8 ounces, caught in Kerr Lake, Virginia, in 1981.
State Record - 3 pounds, 13.25 ounces, caught in Lake Talquin, in 1992.
Common Names - bream, blue bream, sun perch, blue sunfish, copperhead, copperbelly, roach.
Description - Bluegills have small mouths and oval-shaped, almost rounded, bodies. Body coloration is highly variable with size, sex, spawning, water color, bottom type, and amount of cover. In general, they are somewhat lavender and bronze with about six dark bars on their sides. Males tend to have a copper-colored bar over the top of the head behind the eyes. The breast is silver to slightly blue most of the year, with some yellow or orange during spawning season. Females are generally lighter colored than males. Two distinctive characteristics are the prominent black spot on the rear edge of the gill-cover and a black spot at the base of the posterior portion of the dorsal fin.
Spawning Habits - Bluegills are well known for "bedding" in large groups, with their circular beds touching one another. Bedding occurs in water two to six feet deep over sand, shell or gravel, and often among plant roots when the bottom is soft. Spawning occurs from April through October with the peak in May and June, when water temperature rises to about 78-80 degrees. A female may lay 2,000 to 63,000 eggs, which hatch 30 to 35 hours after fertilization.
Feeding Habits - Insects, insect larvae and crustaceans are the dominant foods of bluegills, with vegetation, fish eggs, small fish, mollusks, and snails being of secondary importance, although they may dominate their diet during certain times of the year.
World Record - 4 pounds, 12 ounces, caught in Ketona Lake, Alabama, in 1950.
State record - 2 pounds 15.25 ounces, caught in Crystal Lake, Washington County, Florida, in 1989.