Saturday, February 16, 2019

Bass Fishing on Lake Toho

Today I went fishing on world famous Lake Tohopekaliga for its Largemouth Bass. Lake Tohopekaliga, or Lake Toho for short, is one of the big lakes in central Florida known by many for their excellent bass fishing. We were in the area, and so my dad, brother, and I decided to book a charter with Kyle Whitten to fish the lake. You can check him out at We arrived at the marina extremely excited to get fishing. We met Kyle at the marina, and we went to the bait shop after introducing ourselves. After filling the live well with 3 dozen shiners, we head out on the bass boat, and the fishing was underway. The first spot was not far from the marina. There was some Hydrilla near the bottom of the lake at this spot, which was only about 4 feet deep. We used spinning setups with light line. We had bobbers about 2 feet up from the hook, which had a shiner on it. The shiners were hooked through the lips. Kyle told us that if a Bass would take the bait, the bobber would sink under the surface of the water. He said to wait around 5 seconds after the fish took the bait, and then to reel in the slack and set the hook. The first one to get bit was Jacob, my little brother. He did exactly as Kyle told him, and he soon had the first fish of the day on the boat! It was awesome to have caught a fish so soon into the trip. I was the next to one to the bobber go under. I waited five seconds, which felt much longer, and reeled in the slack. I set the hook and reeled in the hard fighting fish. Like all of the Bass we caught that day, the fight was thrilling. Kyle landed the fish, and we had two on the board already! We released the fish, and continued fishing the spot. After I had caught three, including the ~3.5 pounder that was the biggest of the trip, and Jacob caught two fish at the spot, the bite had slowed down. We decided to go over to another spot on the lake. We first went to an area with lots of current and let the bobbers drift along. We didn't get any bites, so we moved to another spot on the lake soon after. This spot was located on a long Hydrilla flat. Kyle said that there was always fish cruising along the flat, and that it was about being in the right place at the right time. The first bobber to go under was Jacob's. He reeled in his Largemouth Bass and Kyle landed it. I was the next one to catch a fish. The fish took the bait, and I waited a few seconds and then set the hook. That was my fourth bass of the day. After this fish, we missed a few hookups and Gar occasionally took our bait. When I asked Kyle how often he encounters Gar, he said that he deals with them daily. They are one of the main species on the lake. Kyle told me that you can tell when a Gar is taking the bait when the bobber moves too fast to be the shiner, but is not going down either. Gars normally take the back part of the bait, without the hook, and swim parallel to the surface. Before we left, Jacob caught another Bass. Kyle determined to go to another spot on the lake. We were hoping to catch our monster Bass, but we instead just caught Gar instead. After fish were taking our shiners off the hook, I finally hooked one. My shiner was near the boat when the bobber went under. Thinking it was a big Bass, I set the hook hard. When I reeled it in, I saw that it was instead a Florida gar. That's a new species for me. Kyle helped dehook the fish and we put it back. A few more Gar bites came, and we knew this because the bobber would speed across the surface of the water. Time was running out, so we decided to use the last few shiners left at the spot that we went to first. We threw out our baits and waited. As we were waiting for the last fish, Kyle was talking to us about how the Bass normally eat in the mornings and evenings, and that midday is not the best time to catch them. After about 15 minutes of talking and waiting, Kyle's bobber went down. He gave me the rod and I tried to set the hook. At first, I missed. But before I could say anything, the Bass came back and bit the hook next to the boat! I reeled the fish in to end the day on a good note. After releasing the fish, we used the last few shiners we had to no avail. We ended up with 11 fish in total, 5 bass and 1 gar for me, and 4 bass and 1 gar for Jacob. Kyle was a great guide and really made the trip as fun and easy as possible. He helped us with whatever we needed, and we can't thank him enough. This was an incredible trip, fishing on one of the world's most renown Bass lakes, and I'm looking forward to the next time.

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