The bluegill bite remains good for Polk County anglers. Some of the lakes have bedding fish and good numbers are being reported
1. Around Lakeland, at Saddle Creek 3- to 5-pound bass are being caught on Senkos and speedworms in watermelon red or Junebug with chartreuse tail colors. “The bluegill bite is real good, better than the shellcracker. We’re selling lots of crickets,” reports Melinda Lapina at Phillips Bait and Tackle (863-666-2248). The catfish bite has been good on cut bait in the back of Saddle Creek. At Tenoroc, the bass are biting good on medium size live shiners. The bluegill and shellcracker bite is good as well. A couple of regulars are still catching specks at night on Lake Hollingsworth, reports Lapina.
2. At Auburndale, “I’ve been hearing Lake Mattie has a real good bluegill bite right now, reports Melinda Lapina at Phillips Bait and Tackle (863-666-2248). Lakes Haines and Rochelle in Lake Alfred have a real good bluegill and shellcracker bite along with some schoolie sized bass 2 to 3 pounds. Both lakes also have a good catfish bite around the culverts with all the runoff, reports Ron Schelfo at Ron’s Tackle Box (863-956-4990)
3. At Winter Haven, the panfish bite for bluegill and shellcracker is pretty good on Lakes Howard and Shipp. Small, schoolie sized bass good there as well on lipless crankbaits and topwater frogs. Lake Shipp also has a good catfish bite with all the freshwater runoff, reports Schelfo.
4. At Lake Hamilton, the outside, deeper edges along the lily pads in the little lake has seen the best bass bite on plastic worms early in the morning. Some bluegill are coming out of the middle lake. Some specks are still being caught in the big lake on minnows in deep water early in the day, reports Mickey Ingram at Hoppy’s Marine (863-439-7616).
5. At Lake Marion near Haines City, “I would love to tell you all the species are jumping in the boats, but there just hasn’t been any boats out,” reports Eileen O’ Leary at Bannon's Fish Camp (863-422-1223).
6. At Lake Pierce, bass fishing has been okay on Christmas color trick worms. “One angler is catching some nice bluegill, but he’s been tight-lipped on where and when. There’s not much to speak of on the shellcracker,” reports Jennings Resort (863-439-3811).
7. At Lake Hatchineha, they’re still catching bluegill in the lily pads and reeds. The big point across from Port Hatchineha has been especially good using crickets and beetle spins. The bass bite is good early in the morning in the peppergrass or hydrilla on topwater frogs. As the day progresses, switch to a weedless Senko or a creature bait such as a Gambler Ugly Otter, reports Charlie Wynperle at Bridgemaster Fishing Products (863-676-1009).
8. At Lake Toho, live shiner anglers are getting about 20 bass a trip. The artificial bite has been slower for the big fish, but there’s still plenty of schoolie size bass being caught. “The bluegill bite is good. I’m selling lots of crickets,” reports Mark Detweiler at Big Toho Marina (407-846-2124).
9. At Lake Kissimmee, bluegill are biting good on crickets and beetle spins in the lily pads and the grass around Bird Island. For bass, throw a Spro Frog or a Booyah swim jig early in the grass and lily pads around Brahma Island. Later in the day, flip a Medlock Jig with a Zoom Chunk trailer, reports Charlie Wynperle at Bridgemaster Fishing Products (863-676-1009).
10. At Lake Walk-in-the-Water, the bluegill are good in the lily pads and grass on crickets and beetle spins in yellow and red color. The bass are biting good on topwaters first thing in the morning. As the sun gets higher, fish the offshore brush piles with a Zoom Ol’ Monster 10 inch worm in Junebug color, reports Wynperle. A good mix of bluegill and shellcracker are biting on red worms around the docks and the reeds. The bluegill are up bedding, reports Jim Childress of Big Bass Bait & Tackle (352-207-7520).
11. At Crooked Lake at Babson Park, there’s been a good bluegill bite in the north end of the lake on red worms. Bass up to five pounds good in the morning while flipping frogs around the grass pads just out from the cove. Schoolie size bass good along the U.S. 27 side, reports Cindy Ritchison at Bob's Landing (863-638-1912).
12. At Frostproof, the bluegill and shellcracker on Lake Clinch have moved deep in about 15-20 foot. At Lake Reedy, they’re no deeper than 10 feet. Bass up to 8 pounds biting on live shiners around the grass at Lake Clinch, reports Childress.
13. In the phosphate pits near Mulberry and Bartow, rainy weather has slowed the fishing, but the bluegill bite is still pretty good. The bass are decent early in the morning. Red worms have been good for catfish, reports David Andress of Mulberry Bait Company (863-943-4009).