A BASS Guide to Florida – with Stacy Twiggs

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Lews Fishing
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Lews Fishing

by  Dan O’Sullivan

Florida is one of the true heartbeats of bass fishing.  Lakes like Toho, Kissimmee, Okeechobee, Bienville Plantation and so many more have legendary status amongst the bass fishing community.  Florida is also responsible for the spread of the Florida Strain largemouth; the largest and fastest growing strain of the species.

While Florida has earned a reputation for producing giant bass, it also has a reputation for responding very negatively to extreme weather trends.  Cold fronts can create a case of lockjaw worse than a teenager whose headgear and braces has stuck in the closed position.  Along with the negative attitudes during a cold front, hot weather can have an equally detrimental effect.

Stacy Twiggs Florida BassHot weather brings high temperatures to the shallow water of Florida and to the anglers as well.  Florida fisheries can often be ghost towns in the mid day period.  The heat and humidity makes anglers think of the comfort of air conditioning and covered solariums with ceiling fans and blended beverages.

For central Florida guide Stacy Twiggs; this time period means big bass opportunities. “High sun and warm water drives fish for the cover in search of shade,” said Twiggs.  “While it may not be the most comfortable air conditions, the bass are at their easiest to pinpoint.”

As a guide, Twiggs believes in teaching his clients first; not in showing them how good he is on the water. “For me as a guide, the important part is not for me to catch fish, but for my clients to learn and have fun themselves,” he said.  “I may show them how things can work in an area by catching one or two, but after that I leave it all to them.”

Twiggs said there are three ways to take advantage of the position of Florida’s warm weather bass, and they are methods he teaches his clients at every turn.  “I rely heavily on three techniques, swimbaits, frog and flipping to catch summertime bass here in Florida,” he said.  “These three methods produce well, and when you have the water to yourself; you can really do some damage.”

Where to Look
Twiggs said that the key to being successful in Florida is vegetation.  However, he said that not all grass is the best grass for fishing.  In fact, unlike searching for a new home with the best manicured lawns in the prettiest neighborhoods; bass anglers need to search for the ugliest areas to find the best bass.

The Kissimmee, Florida guide said that anytime he can find mixed grasses; those that combine two or more different types of vegetation in one area are the type he is looking for.  “There are grass mats, and then there are fishy grass mats,” said Twiggs.  “The mats that are smooth and clean are not what I look for.  I look for mats that have some character.”

If he finds matted hydrilla that is mixed with hyacinth or peppergrass; then he begins with one of three techniques, depending on the time of the day it is.

Client and SonAll Day Approach
Twiggs said he starts his clients out in the morning with a small swimbait on the outside of the grass mats.  “In the low light conditions of the morning, the bass are usually out on the edges patrolling,” he said.  “I have them throw a Skinny Dipper on a weighted hook around the grass mats trying to get a few bites before the sun comes up full in the sky.”

After the swimbait bite dies, Twiggs and his clients turn to a floating frog on top of matted vegetation.  He said that the frog helps him cover water in that transition period between roaming edges of the grass to pulling into it.  He said he prefers the SPRO Poppin’ Frog because it creates a commotion on open water, but still slides across the mats really well.

Once the sun gets high, he takes his clients’ reaction bait rods out of their hands and turns to Flipping heavy cover.  “We spend most of our day with the Flipping Stick in our hands,” said Twiggs.  “It is the best way to put bass in the boat in the Florida sun throughout most of the year.”

Teaching Flipping
Being a guide who spends as much time teaching as he can; Twiggs said he works to help his clients understand all facets of the approach while enjoying their day out there in the Florida sun.  “I put a Kistler Flipping Stick in their hands with a fast reel, braided line, big sinker and a stout, straight shank Flipping hook in their hands,” he said.  “My first order of business is to help them get comfortable with making the presentation and knowing how to get the fish out of the cover.”

His favorite lures vary, and he said he would use any of them at any point during the day.  His preferences are lures that will penetrate the cover easily, but provide enough bulk once they get into the cover.  He said his choices include Reaction Innovations Sweet Beavers, Double Wide Beavers and NetBait Paca Craws.

He wants his clients; especially those new to Flipping heavy cover, to quickly gain confidence in the approach.  So, initially, he may fish with them until they locate biting fish and put a couple in the boat.  After they see him land one or two, or put one in the boat themselves; he proceeds to instruct them on the finer points of Flipping heavy cover.

The two most important points he stresses to his clients are that strikes generally occur the second the lure breaks through the cover in the warm water months, and how an angler should set the hook and pull the fish from the cover.

Twiggs and Daughter“Most of the strikes happen on the first fall, so I tell them to be ready at all times,” he said.  “Once they get bit, it’s important to pull their heads straight out of the cover, so I have them set the hook and pull the fish as vertically through the cover as they can.  This helps them get control of the fish and results in fewer lost opportunities.

Final Florida Quirk
Twiggs said it’s important to pay attention to water clarity in Florida.  “Florida is a clear water state, and the fastest way to have a fruitless day is to fish dirty water,” he said.  “Bass in Florida get a bad case of lockjaw when the water muddies up, so if the mat I was fishing yesterday gets muddy; I move on.”

BASS Fishing Legacy
Twiggs spent almost 10 years working for B.A.S.S. as their Federation Nation Youth Director before returning to guiding full-time.  He is a Gulf War Veteran of the United States Navy, and he found time to pursue his bass fishing interests between his other duties.  Before going to work for B.A.S.S in 2002, He was also a 12-year member of the Texas BASS Federation Nation where he was the former Texas BASS Federation Nation President for five years.

Stacy was the 2002 & 2003 Texas B.A.S.S Federation Sportsman of the Year recipient, 2000-2003 Texas Paralyzed Veterans of America Dedication Award, three-time Cen-Tex Bassmasters Angler of the Year, five-time Texas Angler of the Year runner-up, seven-time Texas B.A.S.S. Federation Nation State Team qualifier and a seven-time Texas BASS Federation Regional qualifier.  He can be contacted for booking outings at stwiggs@cfl.rr.com, or by mobile phone at 321-402-1516.