Michael Wilson, Ledger correspondent
Apr 1, 2020 at 3:51 PM
Panfish action for both bluegill and shellcracker is still good for Polk County anglers, but the bluegill edge out the shellcracker this week.
1 Around Lakeland, at Saddle Creek, bluegill and shellcracker are biting good, but the fish are all spread out. Bass fishing is good while pitching black-and-blue color jigs under the trees. Around town, the bluegill are “popping off big time” on all the lakes. Lake Hunter has been especially good for bluegill in the pads. Lake Parker is producing shellcracker along the grassy bank lines. Parker is also producing bass on Senkos in the buggy whips. Lake Bonny is producing bass on Senkos in the pads, reports Evan Wieber at Phillips Bait and Tackle (863-666-2248).
2 At Auburndale, Lake Juliana is good for bluegill and shellcracker. Bass fishing is also good there for schoolies in the 3- to 4-pound range. Lake Ariana is producing bass on spinnerbaits in chartreuse or white color or a combo. Lake Alfred has been really good for bluegill and bass up to 9 pounds. Shiners are best for the big bass. Lake Rochelle has been good for shellcracker and bass. Lakes Haines and Rochelle are still producing plenty of specks, reports Ron Schelfo at Ron’s Tackle Box (863-956-4990).
3 At Winter Haven, there’s a good bluegill bite on the south chain. The canals are producing shellcracker and some bass around the mouths. Bass fishing is good throughout the chain. There’s no real big fish, but plenty of 4- to 5-pound fish. Lakes Cannon and Ship have a good catfish bite, reports Schelfo.
4 At Lake Hamilton, the bluegill bite has picked up and is getting ready to really go off on the Hamilton Chain. The bass bite is decent. Topwaters and weightless flukes shallow in the grass in about 2 to 3 feet of water are best, reports Matt Ingram at Hoppy’s Marine (863-439-7616).
5 At Lake Marion near Haines City, the bluegill bite is picking up on crickets in the pads on the south side. Bass fishing has been good and the east side of the lake has been the most productive. A 16-pound total weight won a local tourney this past weekend. Baitfish imitation topwaters and crankbaits fished in holes in the Kissimmee grass are getting the bite, reports Ingram.
6 At Lake Pierce, shellcracker are biting red worms and grass shrimp in the pads and grass. The area left of Trout Point has been best. The bass bite is decent on black and blue tail plastic worms. One angler caught seven fish one morning, but they were all schoolies. The speck bite is slow, reports Jennings Resort (863-439-3811).
7 At Lake Hatchineha, the bass bite has been good early on hollow body frogs and spinnerbaits around patches of peppergrass or up tight to areas with thick buggy whips or Kissimmee grass. The speck bite is pretty good on jigs around brush or structure, reports Chuck Metheney at Bridgemaster Fishing Products (863-676-1009).
8 At Lake Toho, the bait shop is only open from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. and the ramp is open. Good numbers of schooling bass are biting in the morning at the south end of the lake. Plastic worms and speed worms in junebug color have been best. Later on, flipping the hydrilla has been getting the bite. Red worms have been getting limits of shellcracker on the shell beds out in front of the Lake Toho RV Resort, reports Mark Detweiler at Big Toho Marina (407-846-2124).
9 At Lake Kissimmee, bass are biting hollow body frogs early around lines of lily pads or areas with mixed pads and grass. Later on, switch to flipping heavier cover with a bait such as a Bass Gorillas’ Jungle Menace creature bait. The bluegill and shellcracker bite has been “hot” around the 27-Palms and the Polluted Waters. Philadelphia Point has also been good, reports Metheney.
10 At Lake Walk-in-the-Water, the bass bite has been a “little tough,” but the shellcracker and bluegill are biting good on red worms, wigglers and crickets. Areas with a mix of lily pads and grass have been best, reports Metheney.
11 At Crooked Lake at Babson Park, the bass bite is good on topwaters early and late at the north end of the lake. There’s a good schoolie bass bite on the U.S. 27 side. During the day, bigger bass are biting on the drop-offs at the north end. Shellcracker are biting good across from Wirt’s Point. A few specks are biting at night on minnows in water 30 feet deep, reports Cindy Ritchison at Bob’s Landing (863-638-1912).
12 At Frostproof, bluegill and shellcracker are good at Lake Reedy in the pads on crickets and red worms. Bass are also good at Reedy on spinnerbaits and drifting shiners along the edges of the grass. There’s still some specks at Reedy in 8 feet of water on brush piles. Lake Clinch is also good for specks while drifting or trolling minnows in open water. Clinch is also producing shellcracker in 8 to 10 feet on red worms. The bass bite there is also good on shiners and square bill crankbaits around the grass. Little Crooked Lake is good for bluegill on crickets up next to the grass, reports Jim Childress of Big Bass Bait & Tackle (352-207-7520).
13 In the phosphate pits near Mulberry, just before sunrise there’s a short bite on topwaters and spinnerbaits up around cover. After the sun rises, the best bite has been in water around 6 to 10 feet deep on Texas or Carolina rigged 6- to 8-inch plastic worms or lizard baits. Dragging or retrieving very slow has been more productive. The speck bite picked up a bit coming off this past new moon.