When you think of Florida, Universal Studios, Disney, and spring break probably come to mind right away. Then, you’ve got the world-renowned ocean fishing scene to think about with massive marlin, shark, and grouper catching the gaze of any fisherman looking for a large-scale challenge.
However, you might not know that Florida is also home to some awesome bass fishing. If you want to get out on the water, lip some big bass, and take in the sights while you do it, Florida has plenty to offer.
If you’re not quite sure whether or not you should derail your family vacation to Universal or Pensacola beach to catch some big bass, check out these top bass fishing records in Florida. You might get one on your line if you just take a little detour while you’re in the area.
1: The State Record
First, let's get started with the state's current bass bass fishing record. Billy O' Berry set the record in 1986 when he pulled a massive 17.27-pound bass in from a small lake in Polk County.
Now, this is not the largest bass to have been caught in the state. However, like other massive catches, many of the larger fish caught either didn’t meet reporting requirements, were rescinded after finding evidence of unethical behavior, or simply weren’t even attempted to be officially recorded.
On the books, and officially, Billy O’ Berry holds the bass fishing record in Florida, and while some have come pretty close to beating it over the last 34 years, none have managed to do so.
Billy’s fish was an astounding 30 inches in length, and it had a girth of 22.5 inches when officially measured.
He caught the hog on a yellow and green Strike King Spinnerbait, on what he described as a moderate retrieval, you can still find these popular baits at your local Walmart, and they’re prevalent enough that just about any decent tackle shop should carry them.
It’s also notable that Billy’s fish is one of the longer bass caught in the state. A bass’s weight isn’t the only thing that gets taken into account for records, there are also records for length, girth, and several oddball categories that have more to do with the circumstances surrounding the catch.
While this isn’t as big as some of the fish that come close to shattering world records, it’s certainly a catch worthy of renown, and we’re sure it was the catch of a lifetime for Billy.
2: Largest Youth Catch
Florida doesn’t just have a state record, it holds a world record, too. This one is for a comparatively small fish when you consider the massive world records that are out now, but the category is an impressive one.
Mackenzie Ruth Hickox, a girl who ranged in age from 11 to 16 in 2006 (her exact age is not available for privacy reasons) landed the youth angler world record for her highly impressive catch of a 15.2-pound bass in 2006.
The massive lunker is one that adults from around the world would love to catch, and her age just makes the catch that much better, essentially, she got a once-in-a-lifetime catch while most anglers are just starting to bring in their first five-pounders.
The fish was landed in Daytona Beach at Spruce Creek, and the record has stood firm for the last 18 years. Most bass fishing records in Florida don’t even last that long.
3: A World Record at 8 Years Old
Florida is home to another young female world record holder. This one belongs to the “Smallfry” category. Small fries are considered to be anglers younger than 10 years old, and since the record is limited to that age group, it’s understandable that the overall weight isn’t as impressive as a 25-pound bass held up against the entire bass fishing community. However, it’s still an impressive 8.13-ounce catch. That’s one of those big lunkers grown men start to get jittery about when they bite down and run with a prized lure.
This catch goes to Julia Grace Ketner, she caught it at Lake Okeechobee in 2015.
There isn't much more available on this record, but as time goes by, we're sure we'll see Julia's name pop up in the fishing community again. World record holders don't tend to stay out of the headlines for long.
4: Miscellaneous World Records in Florida
There are some other world records that are held by Floridian fishermen. These aren’t high-weight fish that are tossed up against every other fish caught, but they’re regulated to more specific categories.
A: Fly Fishing
Most people don't set out for bass with fly tackle, and when a large bass does bite onto a fly, the angler usually has reason to worry. Bass is a lot more aggressive than trout. That didn't bother Captain Alyssa Vinoski, though.
She managed to hold her own against a whopping 10.8-pound largemouth with nothing more than her standard fly-fishing equipment, and she even got ahold of it for measurements and certification.
Her name went down in the record books of bass fishing in 2017, not just for catching a decent-sized bass, but for catching it on equipment most fishermen wouldn't even think to try using.
The fish was caught on Port Orange with a 12-pound tippet line and a fly.
This is one catch you should pay attention to as a learning experience. Sometimes, it’s not about the gear or lures you have, it’s about the skill you’ve developed, and how you use that equipment.
B: Conventional Tackle Line Class
Dana Blanco Douglas, an accomplished MD, set the new line class record when she picked up a massive 10.2-pound bass on an 8-pound line at Lake Talquin in 2015.
There isn’t much else to say about this due to a lack of information, but it’s proof that you don’t need fancy 20-pound fluorocarbon or 30-pound braid and a massive rod to catch some really good bass, and this simple fisherman even managed a world record using the same stuff your average weekend warrior uses on their free time.
In short, don’t let your tackle box limit your aspirations.
C: All-Tackle Length (Fly Record)
This has nothing to do with weight, and it’s entirely a length record. Specifically, it’s the world record for the longest bass caught on fly tackle.
Now, this record was just set, and it’s the most recent record we’ve covered, it was set on February 7th of 2022. So, there’s no telling how long this record will stand, and somebody is probably shaking their head after finding out their world record just got broken, costing them their bragging rights.
This one was caught by John R. Kelly Jr., and it was caught in Stuart, Florida. The fish was 20.5 inches long with an undisclosed weight and girth. Either way, given that tremendous length, we’re willing to bet it was in the double digits.
D: All-Tackle Length (Tie Record)
This one is unique. It actually has two record holders as they each caught a fish of the exact same length with gear in this category.
The tie category covers tie-on lures, and for this record, everything is put on the overall length of the fish from tip to tip.
First, Lance Jones caught a 25.6-inch bass at Lake Jeffrey in 2018. This entered him into the world record scene, and with it being a fairly broad category, it’s a pretty impressive feat to rack up such a record.
Then, another 25.6-inch bass was caught by Lane J. Kinney just 3 years later on March 7th of 2021 with gear from the same category. Since the fish were the same size, Kinney doesn't get to take the world-record credit on her own, and she is simply added to the current world record as a tie with Lance Jones. Notably, Kinney's bass was caught on a private lake in Washington County, Florida.
So, not only does Florida have world record holders in six categories (Smallfry, Youth, All-Tackle Length –Tie-, All-Tackle Length –Fly-, Tippet, and Conventional Tackle), but it actually has two record holders from Florida tied for the All-Tackle Length –Tie- category. That is not a small feat, and it certainly elevates Florida in the world’s overall bass fishing scene.
5: Peacock Bass Record Finally Beaten
While a Peacock Bass isn’t exactly a true bass species, it is widely regarded as a sought-after species amongst bass fishermen, and records are made for it.
The last record was set in 1993 with a 9.08-pound fish. That’s quite a bit smaller than the state’s Largemouth Bass records, but for Peacocks, it’s fairly substantial.
This new record was set in 2021 by Felipe Prieto. He caught the massive fish during a pretty mundane fishing trip. He was simply trying to get in a little personal time on the water after a long day at work. Felipe cast his line into an unknown reservoir, and when the lunker bit on, he knew he had a sizable catch.
Bringing it into the local weighing station, it weighed 9.11 pounds, edging out the previous record that stood for almost three full decades.
This record is completely official, and it’s sanctioned by the FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission).
What Does This Show?
If you’re a die-hard fisherman, going through those bass fishing records in Florida probably got your head spinning with the possibility of you being the next world-record holder, or even just picking up a little check from your local municipality for landing a state record. How does knowing these things help you, though?
Well, it proves that Florida is a hotbed for bass. No, not every bass is a massive lunker. Some of the world records on this list get caught by above-average fishermen every day during peak season, those just aren't long enough or are not brought to a measuring official because the angler doesn't look past their weight. Think of the 10-pounders Floridians have entered as world records.
Then, you have to consider the multitude of large basses that have brought people who are quite literally children onto the world record scene thanks to the proliferation of massive bass in Florida’s waters.
Beyond that, there is more than just largemouth to worry about in the region. You can go out for largemouth and catch smallmouth, shoal bass, the exotic butterfly peacock bass, and even several species of saltwater bass if you decide to leave the lakes and head out to the beach, all of those are potential record breakers, too.
All in all, Florida has an impressive track record for producing amazing bass that break records in all categories, not just big fish that outweighs everything else.
If you're trying to get some good bass fishing in, Florida should definitely be on your bucket list for places to visit, and if you're lucky enough to live in the area, you're set for a lifetime of quality bass fishing.
Getting More Help and Taking Advantage of Florida’s Waters
So, we’ve established that Florida is capable of producing extremely high-quality fish and outstanding bass fishing records. However, that doesn’t matter if you’re not quite at the level you need to be to take full advantage of having access to those fish.
Fishing is a lifelong learning experience, and being able to enhance your skills is key.
Luckily, BassForecast is here to help you build those skills and make the most out of every fishing trip, whether you’re fishing in Florida, or hitting up the west coast.
At BassForecast, you’ll find highly detailed maps of tens of thousands of waterways across the states, full details on countless species specific to each spot, solunar data custom-tailored to the regions you’re fishing in, fishing forecasts that are updated by the minute, and countless other forms of information that will boost your fishing abilities and help you beat your personal best with each trip. We also offer a tremendous number of blog posts and guides to help beginners and pros alike to get past certain hurdles all of us face at different points in our fishing journeys.
If you want to up your game, download our fishing app today, and get started.