Thanks to sunshine, great weather and more than 500 accessible freshwater lakes, Polk County is widely known as the bass fishing capital of the United States. Before you start casting lines, there are a few things you should know:
- You’ll need a license to keep what you catch. If you aren’t planning to release what you catch, you will need to obtain a Recreational Freshwater Fishing License. Permits can be acquired at gooutdoorsflorida.com/ or by calling (888) 347-4356. A Florida Freshwater License costs about $17 for a year. Lifetime license options are available. Interested in just getting out for a day? Florida has statewide fishing holidays.
- Be conscious of when and where you fish. Different lakes have different rules, and some are not open for public fishing. Make sure you research where you intend to fish. Learn the rules and regulations regarding boat size, ramp and pier use and hours, and size and bag limits for registered fishers. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Fishbrain app has great information.
- Fish early, fish late. The early bird may catch the worm, but evening fishing can be great, too. Many freshwater fish are active biting in the morning or at dusk. If you’re fishing in the daytime, look for cloud/shade coverage. Fish are typically less active in heat and sunlight. Also, start the day by matching your lure to the color and tone of the water. If there is heavy algae and green-tinted water, try a lure with green highlights. Clear water will do well with a pearlescent lure.
- Plan for heat and sun. Consider temperatures, shade and sunlight. Make sure you have water, hats and sunglasses, and a first-aid kit. Practice awareness and be use proper technique when baiting and casting lines. Sunscreen is a no-brainer. Fishing means exposure to sun, even in the evening and morning. Here’s information on Polk County boat ramps and fishing spots: Parks and Recreation