Living in Florida all my life, I can tell you that there are two kinds of people in this great state: people who call the Speckled Perch “specks” and people who call them “crappies.”
Now, I have to admit, I have never heard of the name “crappie” growing up. But, over the years, as more and more Northerners have migrated down here, I’ve been hearing the name more and more. And, I never understood why one of my favorite fish to catch would have such a “crappy” name. Turns out, the name comes from the French Canadian phrase “crapet-soleil.” Translation? It means sunfish. Thank you, Wikipedia.
Why am I bringing all this up? Because a lot of people come to me and say they’d like to try fishing and where’s a good place to go? Well, I can give you a million different places here in Florida, but the better question is: WHEN is a good time to go fishing? Okay, the answer to that is anytime, but if you’re sorta new to fishing and you’re not so crazy about sitting around in the dead-of-summer heat, it’s good to know that generally November through March is Speckle Perch Season, and the best place to find them is on Lake Monroe at the bulkhead in beautiful downtown Sanford in Seminole County. You can also find a lot a specks just waiting to be caught in the Soldier Creek area and the north end of Lake Jessup — where it connects to the St. Johns River.
It’s around this time of year when the lake waters get cooler, and during a full moon these fish start to spawn and lay millions of eggs, and then school together to protect their eggs and get busy. These fish thrive in Florida, too. Seriously, you can wear yourself out reeling in these guys. That’s why Florida is known as the “Speckled Perch Capital of the World.” Just another good reason why so many Northerners keep moving down here.
Specks are one of my favorite fish to catch. Once you find one, you’re sure to find more, and what’s on the other end of that line is some of the best filets you’ve ever tasted. They’re white, flaky, clean, and let’s face it — the tastiest ones are the ones you catch yourself. Plus, these little babies are such a joy to wrangle. Best way to catch them? Simple, I use a small bobber, split shot weight, and a small gold hook. For bait use, try Missouri minnows that you can find in your local bait shop. If “bait and weight” ain’t your thing, then you can cast a beetle spin, or a small jig.
So, if you’re looking to do something while hanging out along some of Florida’s prettiest waters, there’s nothing more relaxing than wrangling up some speck and getting a delicious meal or two in the process.
So, get out and Do florida!
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