If you would try to predict when the best bass fishing of your life might occur, Central Florida around the fourth of July would not be on the calendar but maybe it should be.
My son Greg and friend Tom Morgan traveled to Winter Haven FL with their wives Dawn and Tami. The Morgans have a home on a chain of lakes and a nice bass boat waiting.
Shortly after their arrival, Greg called with some typical “Bramwell bad luck.” The boat had been at the dealership since March for a trolling motor problem. The replacement part had yet to arrive.
Greg and Tom began searching for guide services. They found one at www.cfbucketmouths.com . The cf stands for Central Florida. Their guide for this past Monday was Capt. Monte Goodman.
They learned that Goodman has been a full-time guide for 20 years. Through a phone call, I learned that he had been fishing tournaments for 30-years. Besides trophy bass, Goodman guides for crappie, bluegill, and redear.
The three met at the ramp at first light. Modern electronics and the skill to use them put Goodman’s Triton bass boat over an 11-foot weedbed. The fish finder showed a school of minnows hanging over the cover. The weeds came to within five feet or so of the surface. The guide expected there to be bass down in the weeds. As it turned out, a big school of bass.
Using spinning outfits with Penn bait-runner reels spooled with 30# Berkeley braid and fluorocarbon leaders a live shiner was fished on a 3/0 circle hook five feet below a bobber.
“Dad, we caught 25 bass. It was like being in a school of bluegills. Seldom did we go more than eight minutes without a fish on. Most of them were between three and six pounds,” Greg said.
Goodman uses 3/0 – 5/0 circle or kayle hooks depending on the cover and the size of shiners available. The Central Florida Guide said, “I don’t use any weight. I want that big minnow looking as natural as possible.” One of the shiners, according to Greg, came out of the water trying to escape a big bass.
As one might expect, from a good guide, Goodman’s personal best largemouth is 11-lbs., 8-ozs. A client caught one 13.8-lbs.
Too often, visiting anglers make the mistake of only fishing shoreline weeds and lily pads. According to Goodman, the water is just too warm in the shallows once surface temperatures creep into the 80s. Also, some of these lakes stratify during warm months leaving too little oxygen in the shallows.
Some anglers don’t want to use live bait and Goodman can’t either when fishing tournaments. He likes 10-inch Berkley plastic worms but will drop down to five inches when the bite is tough. “I keep it simple on the colors; red, junebug, green, and blue/black,” he suggested.
When the trio ran out of their 48 shiners, they began fishing artificial worms through Goodman’s man-made brush piles.
As Greg and Tom learned, you can catch big bass year-round in Central Florida. The spawn is stretched out from December to April. A big female has added weight when laden with eggs.
To make reservations go to their websites. This service has more than one guide. If a day you want is booked, call Capt. Goodman partners with other local guides in order to accommodate anglers.
If your favorite angler plans to visit the Orlando, Tampa, Lakeland, or Winter Haven area, surprise them with a gift certificate from Central Florida Bucketmouths. The instructions are on the website as is Goodman’s personal email address. I’m hoping someone will take this hint.