How blessed are we to have one of the world’s premier bass fisheries in our own backyard?!? No boat? I say no problem! This is an absolutely fantastic area to fish from a kayak or canoe!
Launch Spot – Go to the Fellsmere Grade Recreation Area (Stick Marsh Boat Ramp). You will walk along the gravel dike road south through the gate (always locked) and launch along the Northwest shoreline of Headwaters. Be careful the grass has grown really tall, and the brush along the shoreline is thick, be on the lookout for Cottonmouths and make sure there aren’t any gator buddies in the water around where you are launching. There are a few larger gators that hang around the little cove where the canoe/kayak is, and on my last trip there was a baby hanging out in a clearing where I usually launch about a hundred yards south of that. The big Gators will steer clear of you, just don’t corner them or make them feel threatened. If you’re a first time paddle angler to Headwaters be ready to see a lot of them – and big ones too, that area is Gator heaven, but just give them space and they are nothing to worry about.
Where to Fish/How to Fish it from Kayak – One of the biggest challenges if you are a first time angler to Headwaters is that everything looks extremely fishy! That’s a good problem. The first time I went out there I fished for 5 hours and I caught 5 bass. I left feeling humbled for sure, but it took about 3 trips of exploring the northwest part of the lake before I started to dial it in. My last 3 trips have resulted in a combined 78 fish brought to the kayak. As you launch out from the shore, head straight for the first line of palm trees in the water. That one has lily pads in front of it. If you get an early start take a black hollow belly frog and fish the area around those lily pads. Once you fish that area for a few minutes you can fish topwater anywhere on the lake the first hour or so of daylight and catch quality fish. I caught 2 in the lily pads and 5 in the area behind that tree line on my last trip using the SPRO black top-water popping frog. The key to the frog is patience, pop it and let it sit! All of my bites come from when it is sitting still. The big bass like it SLOW, so in the words of Kenny Hass “fish it slow as you can stand it.” – Thanks Kenny, your advice has helped me land some quality fish!
My last few trips I have fished the first 4 palm tree lines down and back. As I approach the line I paddle around it in a circle throwing a searchbait looking for fish holding in the hydrilla holes and the ditch behind two of the lines. Once I complete the circle I start zig-zagging through the trees fishing a worm.
I really like the speed worm, I have fished several brands and they all work. Zoom, Gambler, Yum, and recently I have really been liking the Bitter’s Bait Vibe worm. If it’s clear/sunny conditions I throw watermelon/red flake colors and if it is cloudy I throw junebug colors. I rig the speedworm on a BPS brand enticer tungsten jig head, weedless – but you can take a regular texas rig set up just peg it with a bobber stopper right above the weight. But you’re going to want to be throwing this as tight to the trees as you can so it’s going to get banged up pretty good. My jigheads look like an offensive linemans helmet at the end of a long season. My favorite searchbait is a Gambler EZ Swimmer in their Copperfield color rigged on a 1/4 oz Twistlock hook. I tie both lures to the hook with a very small loop knot – I believe the loop knot gives your bait a little extra action in the water. That’s why I like the enticer jig heads over the traditional texas rig.
I believe in the KISS approach to everything, keep it simple stupid! Some of my worst days fishing is when I am constantly tying on new baits and trying to outsmart myself. These bass will hit topwater, moving baits and worms. Take your favorite three out there, get on the water early, and have a ball!