Sunshine and warm weather

I'm in Florida working topwater baits and catching bass. It's a big change from Ohio where we're supposed to be well below freezing by the end of the week. I spent the whole morning swapping tackle around. That's one of the things I'd have to say I'm thankful for during this Thanksgiving week.

I know a lot of guys will say that Florida is an overrated fishery — that the fishing isn't as good down here as it once was. I have a different take on that line of thinking. There's no doubt that there are better lakes around the country than are found in Florida. They have more big bass in them and they're easier to fish, at least for most of us. But, there's no other state where you can say that in any body of water, on any cast, you can catch the biggest bass of your life.

Before the economy tanked, I spent most of my winters here. My in-laws live a stone's throw from a ramp on Toho. This state has some of the best bass fishing — overall — that you'll find anywhere in North America. I say that as a man who's fished coast to coast for more than three decades. One of the reasons a lot of guys have trouble down here is that they're not used to the effect of the wind.

Most all Florida lakes are big, shallow bowls. Deep water is often 3 feet. All it takes is a minor shift in wind speed or direction to change the bite. (A lot of guys would say destroy the bite. That's not true. Change the bite is correct.) You can't say that about most other parts of the country. The water's a lot deeper. That makes a big difference.

And don't forget that Florida is mostly flat. That means there's nothing to break the wind, which increases its effect on the water and the fish. Another thing is the lack of classic structure here. Florida lakes don't have deep channels, sharp drops and ledges, or bluff walls. At least most of them don't, anyway.

A shallow, almost imperceptible, drainage ditch is what structure in the Sunshine State is all about. Because of that, you're fishing grass and weeds down here. Savvy Florida anglers fish them like we Buckeyes fish rock and wood and deep, twisting channels. That takes a lot of practice and thoughtful fishing. You don't learn it overnight. I don't claim to be a Florida expert. At the same time, though, I have had as much or more success here than anywhere else I've ever fished, and I'm telling you Florida is a great place to thaw out this winter and catch some bass at the same time. Come visit and see if I'm not right. All you have to do is think different. You'll have a great time and maybe catch your biggest bass ever.

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