If you’re vacationing in sunny Florida this fall, don’t forget to take your fishing pole. Florida is an angler’s paradise any time of year, offering some of the best saltwater and freshwater fishing in the world. And if you’re in Orlando, one of the nicest fishing holes you can visit is Turkey Lake.
Battered and fried over a campfire, roasted whole on sticks, baked in hobo packets on hot coals—no matter how it’s fixed, freshly caught fish can be the highlight of a meal enjoyed after a day of successful fishing, that is, if the catch is properly cared for before cooking.
Dreaming of a lake where the fish are always biting? Stop dreaming - go where the champions go! Jordan, Champlain, Clark Hills, Monroe, Okeechobee, and Smith Mountain are six east coast lakes that host at least one major fishing tournament per year - and for good reason. Cast your line in any of their waters, and you’re sure to get more than a nibble.
B. Everett Jordan Lake, North Carolina
B. Everett Jordan Lake near Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina, covers almost 14,000 acres. Its waters are filled with logs, rocks, and submerged logs - the perfect environment for a variety of game fish, including largemouth bass, crappie, striper, striper hybrids, bream, catfish, and white perch. Each spring, the Carolina Bass Series holds open tournaments there.
The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission stocks the lake with stripers as well as with striper hybrids called Bodie bass. April through December is striper season. In May, the peak of the season, even novice anglers can pull in three to five-pound bass or larger.
Lake Champlain, New York
A regular stop on the ESPN Bassmaster Tournament circuit, Lake Champlain in upstate New York offers great year-round fishing. Cast off from shore, wade in the shallows, or use a boat. There are plenty of options when you fish Lake Champlain and plenty of species from which to choose.
Trout and salmon fishing begins in April and lasts through May. May is also the start of pike and walleye season. In summer, the bass begin to bite, and you can fish perch and sunfish any time of year. Ice fishing is allowed, too.
Clarks Hill Lake, Georgia
Also called Lake J. Strom Thurmond, Clarks Hill is an enormous man - made body of water north of Augusta. It covers more than 71,000 acres and has 1,200 miles of shoreline.
Clarks Hills maintains a good habitat for many freshwater fish. Routine practices, such as felling trees along the shore, keep conditions just right for several species, including largemouth bass, bream, crappie, catfish, stripers, and Bodies.
At Clarks Hill, anglers have plenty of elbow room, too. Numerous recreation areas surround the lake, and there are many fishing piers.
Frequent tournaments occur at Clarks Hill. Forest L. Wood (FLW) Outdoors, for instance, sponsors Bass Fishing League events there annually.
Monroe Lake, Indiana
About 10 miles southeast of Bloomington is one of the best walleye fisheries in Indiana, Monroe Lake. Monroe Lake is a great spot for year - round fishing, with abundant numbers of walleye as well as largemouth bass, blue gill, and yellow perch. Other species include crappy, Bodies, and catfish. During cold winters, ice fishing is permitted as well.
The largest lake in Indiana, Monroe covers over 10,000 acres. It’s a popular locale for water skiing and boating, too. In October 2010, the National Guard FLW College Fishing Tournament held its Central Regional Championship there.
Lake Okeechobee, Florida
In the language of the Hitchiti Indians, "Okeechobee" means big water, and Lake Okeechobee is certainly that. Forming the headwaters of Florida’s Everglades, it holds a trillion gallons of water and covers 730 square miles.
Once, the Big O was a spectacular locale for fishing. Today, it’s still a good place to cast your line and is a routine stop on the Bassmaster Tournament trail.
Thanks to a number of recent factors, however, including work by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Lake Okeechobee may soon reclaim its spot as the nation’s premiere sport fishery.
In a 2010 interview with the Miami Herald, FWC biologist Corey Lee said, "We’re seeing eight to 10-inch bass everywhere. There’s a lot of crappie, the highest numbers we’ve seen in five years."
What does that mean? Great fishing, particularly in the next few years.
Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia
Smith Mountain Lake, a 20,600-acre reservoir 40 miles from Lynchburg and Roanoke, leads the state in producing trophy - sized stripers. Blass bass are its most popular species, however, followed by stripers, sunfish, and catfish. The lake also supports a limited number of crappie and musky.
Numerous public boat ramps and marinas are located in adjacent Smith Mountain Lake State Park, which also has picnic areas, campgrounds, cabins, a handicapped-accessible fishing pier, and hiking trails. A golf course is nearby, too.
Smith Mountain Lake is part of the ESPN Bassmaster Elite Series tournament.