Midwest Homebody Goes to Florida

Minnesota Homebody Goes to Florida

The past few years I have been changing the way I look at life. I try not to put things off,  and live again. I had not left the Midwest for over 10 years and got an opportunity to go down to the Palm Beach and Coral Springs area for a week long trip. Combining work and pleasure, both my wife and I were able to do some training and have time for our own interests. Trying not to get my hopes up too much I did not prepare for the trip much and only brought minimal gear to focus on Freshwater fish.

Leaving Minnesota, I managed to have just one checked bag with 2 fishing rods, a few dozen hooks, a few lures and the bare necessities. The friend I was staying with lives on a manmade lake. The neighborhood does not allow non residents to fish there, but I was a guest, so there was no problem. I was told there were bluegills and bass in there and that was about it. After speaking with a neighbor named Dave I found out there were Largemouth, Bluegill, Catfish and Hopolos. The day I fished I struggled to catch even the bluegills using flies that I use for sunfish all the time. The clear water let me watch the fish look at the fly and slowly swim away. Neighbor Dave gave me some tips and off to the bread balls I went. Even then the fish were not cooperating, but I did manage to catch my first fishever oustide of the Midwest.

After a few bluegills and a missed Cichlid, I decided to chase the large bass I could see cruising the shallows. Using a bobber and live bait I started the quest for a Florida Bass. It only took about 15 minutes for the bobber to disappear violently. Neighbor Dave was just as excited as I was and helped take a pic. Not huge but still a fun catch.

I also caught my First Redear Sunfish and a Mosquito Fish.

After losing some more unknown fish on large bread balls I just had to know what they were, so I continued using bread balls on the bottom while I enjoyed the shade of the porch. I was talking to Neighbor Dave letting him know I planned to fish all night and hope to get a Walking Catfish. At that time the line looked tight so I went and checked. The rod went into a great bend and I knew it was a new fish. My first new species of the trip: a Walking Catfish! I was happy as a clam; it made my trip. That night I caught several more, but did not get some other targets I had hoped to catch.

My wife and I also went on an airboat ride at Holiday Park where they film Gator Boys for Animal Planet. We did the tourist things and I took the opportunity to speak with an old timer who was fishing at the dock. He spoke of Bass, Bluegills, Warmouth, Peacock Bass and some other fish. So I joined him. Boy was I glad! I caught a Largemouth that I gave to him for dinner. Then came my first Warmouth, a fish that I have targeted more times than I care to admit in MN. My wife was kind enough to take photos for me and to top it off it was her birthday and I was there fishing in a stinky swamp called the Everglades.


I only got to fish between other events and places we were going so every minute I got to fish was important. I dropped off my wife for her work training in the morning and found a fishing spot just a few blocks away were I caught another lifer. I was also checked by the FWP and I explained what I was looking for they directed me to another place just a mile away with more of my target species.

Spotted Talapia

After a short time I started catching Mayan Cichlids. I talked to a few locals and found a guy much like many of us on Roughfish. He was chasing Gar but ended up catching Bowfin, Bass, and a Bullseye Snakehead.

Spotted Talapia

Mayan Cichlid

Walking Catfish

Below is the Bullseye Snakehead caught by SunnyShroom.

He also told me about one of his best Snakehead spots that I ended up visiting a little later. At this spot I was discouraged. I was not seeing much, and the water looked shallow and  without much life in it, until I spotted a back sticking out of the water. I grabbed my live bait and cast in front of this snakehead. It started bumping my bait and playing with it. I had my bail open, ready for a run, when the wind blew and I lost sight of the fish. I was shaking, knowing that this fish was trophy size over 35 inches. This fish was in less than a foot of water but swam away leaving a sinking feeling in my stomach. I saw about six snakeheads in this ditch but none would bite for me. This was the last chance I had. Burned and a little disappointed I packed up my gear and stowed it away.

My bait

Species List:


Corey's picture

Great report! Florida will always surprise you. Looks like you really nailed the walkingf cats - that one has been on my hit list for a long time and I still have never even seen one! Too bad about the monster snakehead ... but that's fishing. You'll get another shot someday.

drawer.bli's picture

Sweet! would love to get those cichlids and catfish someday, as well as that warmouth!

Outdoors4life's picture

Those walking cats haunted me. I caught my first on a bread ball then another 6 on crawlers. I used the site quite a bit looking at the maps you created for the invasives and such.

Also a thanks to those who helped me out.

Doc, Moose, Erickol, Emotional Spock I was messaging and texting when issues arose for me. We even have a new guy around here Shroom who I met at a spot not many out of towners would find. Also a thanks to Hengelaar for making my jumbled words sound much better.

It is all perspective!

Acer Home Inspections

Eli's picture

Great report man.

The walking cat and the bullseye snakehead are at the top of my list for when we finally make it down there. Like you, I'll definitely be more focused on the freshwater fishes the first time I head to Florida.




Deftik's picture

Florida is always a memorable venture, congratulations!

Cast_and_Blast's picture

Nice job.  I always like the open water reports this time of year.

Jason E.'s picture

Great trip. Fun report to read!

Gunnar's picture

Congrats on the lifers!

I'm heading down to FL (Fort Myers) in a couple weeks, so reading this and looking at the pictures is getting me fired up. I need to find more spots to fish within walking distance of the place we always stay. Can't wait to spend a day in the swamp with the gar and gators, but need to work harder on the littler things that inhabit ponds and canals.

Florida is a lifelist buffet for us northerners.


Redhorse ID cheatsheets, gars, suckers: moxostoma.com

2020: 10 days fishing 11 species 0 lifers. 2019: 34/45/13 2018: 39/40/5

Outdoors4life's picture

I learned that I really wish I had an ultralight and a rod with 8-10 pound test. I had my tenkara and a med weight rod. I brought jigs and such down there but nothing beat live bait. I bottom rigged almost everything or freelined with no weight. I used flies for some of the sunfish.

Everything likes crawlers but I do wish I had minnows for the snakeheads. There should be fishing within walking distance. I fished the same pond and catching only bluegills, bass and walkers then out of nowhere I caught my redear. My Mayans and Spotted Talapia were out of the same areas.  Great time and I plan to go back and rent a boat and head into the everglades.


It is all perspective!

Acer Home Inspections

Hengelaar's picture

Man, that must have been nice. And warm. Those Walking Catfish are such weird-neat looking critters.

I also really like the title shot of you on the dock at sundown.

Fishn sure is neat

Outdoors4life's picture

My wife was kind enough to take those pics of me on her birthday. She really does not care for fishing butwith the warm sun and no bugs it made everyhting alright.


Also what are the thoughts on my last shot of my bait? It appears to have Spotted sunfish in it. Unfortunatley I did not take a pic until I had cut the fins.

It is all perspective!

Acer Home Inspections

Carp Chaser's picture

Great report. Florida is full of interesting species. You got into lots of nice fish- tilapia, cichlids, "walkers" - like that wording,  redear sunfish, warmouth, etc. Not sure on the last sunfish, looks like a spotted to me but I'm not an expert on Florida species. You could also crop the pic for your lifelist. How bad is it in some of those spots as far as gator potential or weeds that might hold snakes?

"There's always a bigger fish"