Take a short drive 5-mile drive from Punta Gorda to enjoy the experience of simple summer days spent fishing for largemouth bass. Webb Lake, located within the Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area, is the ideal place to decompress while pursuing America's favorite freshwater game fish.
Because boats propelled by gasoline motors aren't permitted on Webb Lake, it's quite likely that the only sounds you'll hear will be the lapping of the waves along the shoreline or the call of an osprey overhead. Quieter summer months also mean fewer anglers and less fishing pressure. Bonus!
If you're not sure what baits to use or where to start, don't worry. Keep these five summer bass fishing tips in mind, and you'll be reeling in those green fish quicker than you can say "Best Side Outside."
- Go early and start shallow. Babcock/Webb Wildlife Management Area is open daily for fishing starting an hour and a half before sunrise. Go early to take advantage of the low light conditions. These early morning hours will often provide the best results when fishing the shallow waters of Webb Lake during the summer. As air temperatures increase from morning to midday, so will the surface temperature of the water.
- Topwater lures can be effective early and late or following an afternoon rainshower. Try using a 3-1/8" Skitter Walk in a bluegill pattern during the early morning or evening hours. If fishing Webb Lake following a period of summer rainshowers, work a weedless hollow body frog through the lily pads. Lily pads provide some of the best places for bass to ambush prey and seek shady refuge from the heat. If you have a kayak or small boat, you'll be able to easily the large patches of lily pads near the second boat launch, located off of Webb Lake Road.
- Your summer Webb Lake "go to" baits should be Texas-rigged soft plastic worms in junebug or green pumpkin colors. Since Webb Lake is just a few feet deep in most spots, the water temperature rises quickly and bass will relate to the bottom. Work Texas-rigged soft plastics by slowly dragging them along the bottom near any drop-offs or ledges. Use a depth finder or Google Earth to locate any drop-offs or to fish the deeper cut that runs through the lake. If fishing on a calm day, you can also try rigging a weightless 4-inch or 5-inch senko. The horizontal side-to-side motion of a weightless senko as it falls down toward the bottom can be incredibly effective at enticing bass to strike.
- Remember to slow down your retrieves and keep slack out of your line. Higher summer water temperatures slow the metabolism of largemouth bass, particularly during the heat of the day. This means that you'll need to slow down your retrieve accordingly. Bass will be less likely to chase large baits or lures that are ripping through the water, and bites are often much more subtle. Reduce the amount of slack in your line while paying close attention in order to feel lighter summer bites. Don't forget, all bass are catch and release only at Babcock/Webb, so it's important to take the time to revive any bass that show signs of stress.
- Prepare and dress accordingly. Because Southwest Florida's summer weather patterns often mean afternoon showers, check the forecast in advance of your trip to Babcock/Webb and stay aware of any change in conditions. Wear light-colored breathable clothing, bring along a hat, take a rain jacket, and make sure you have plenty of drinking water.
Now that you have a few handy summer bass fishing tips for Webb Lake, pick a day and get out on the water. Most importantly, be sure to buy your freshwater fishing license and get a Wildlife Management Area daily use permit by visiting MyFWC.com.