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3 Reasons Florida is the Best Fishing Trip Destination

If you are hooked on fishing and can’t stop reeling them in, you need to get down to Florida to experience the best angling in the country.

But what exactly makes Florida the “Fishing Capital of the World?” Some might say it’s the abundance of fishing opportunities offered by the state, others might point to all the different types of fish you can catch, and still others might contend that it’s the most scenic and pleasant place to fish.

We say that all three of these factors make Florida the best fishing trip destination in the country.

Water, Water Everywhere

Just pull up a map of Florida and look at it for a few moments. It’s impossible to miss just how much water there is in every direction. As a peninsula, Florida is surrounded on the one side by the Gulf of Mexico and on the other by the Atlantic.

There are over 1,300 miles of coastline to fish for saltwater favorites like tarpon, sailfish, cobia, and countless others. And we haven’t even mentioned the freshwater fishing opportunities yet.

The Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates that there are about 3 million acres of freshwater fishing spots in the state. It’d be difficult to cast a line from any point in the state without hitting some water!

Variety of Fishing Experiences

With all that water, you’d expect there to be dozens and dozens of different kinds of fish to catch—and you’d be right. Florida is a bass fishing paradise; from some of the best largemouth bass fishing in the world on the Kissimmee chain of lakes to the lesser-known Suwannee bass on the Suwannee River and the exotic and strange Butterfly Peacock bass in Miami, Florida’s lakes and streams are teaming with different bass species.

The coast is just a short drive from anywhere in Florida, so it’s no trouble at all to pack in a freshwater and saltwater trip in a short vacation. Whether you want to charter a deep-sea boat to track down a coveted sailfish or get out in the flats for some world-class tarpon fishing, you should have no problem finding a trip that’s perfect for you.

Beautiful Surroundings

In Florida, what makes the fishing experiences truly special is the scenic locations you’ll be spending time in while on the water. Sure, Michigan and Texas also have some of the best freshwater fishing in the country, but their settings pale in comparison to the tropical and exotic Floridian lakes and rivers.

Whether you are offshore in the turquoise seas of the Florida Keys or weaving through the mangroves in the Everglades, you are guaranteed to have an enjoyable day on the water even if you don’t catch anything. A fishing trip in Florida is never a disappointing experience.

Central Florida Bass Fishing

If you love largemouth bass or pan fish fishing, Lake Kissimmee is one of Florida’s premier sport fishing lakes, right in Central Florida. Come to Grape Hammock Fish Camp for a rare natural fishing trip experience.

We have cabins and camping sites right on the water for a truly immersive stay, and fishing boats for rent if you want to explore the lake on your own.

Best Places to Camp in Florida

When you think of great camping states, more woodsy and mountainous states like North Carolina, Colorado, and Washington probably top the list. However, Florida is a better camping state than it gets credit for, with some of the best state parks in the country and an environment unlike anywhere else in the states.

Worried about the heat for summer camping trips? Well that’s the beauty of Florida camping—the best spots are all waterside, near oceans, lagoons, rivers, and lakes. Experience the best of Florida like never before at these premier campsites.  

Grayton Beach State Park

Up in the panhandle between Destin and Panama City, Grayton Beach State Park can bring you the best of the beach and the forest. Regularly rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the country, Grayton Beach also boasts a salty coastal forest with scenic nature trails for hiking and biking. There is also a unique salt marsh right next to the beach where kayakers and canoers can explore this geological phenomenon. 

Bahia Honda State Park

Check out Bahia Honda Key for some of the best camping in the Florida Keys. Incredible sunsets, turquoise clear waters, and pristine beaches await you at this state park. In addition to soaking up the sun on your favorite beach chair, you can explore some of the best reefs in the world just a few miles away on a snorkeling tour. Don’t forget to hike across the Old Bahia Honda Bridge and take in the breathtaking view of the island while watching sea turtles swim and tarpon jump out of the water.

Boca Chita Key

Perhaps the most remote campsite in the state, Boca Chita Key in Biscayne Bay is a tiny island only accessible by boat. If you ever wanted to camp in a tropical ocean paradise, this is the place for you. With a scenic limestone lighthouse, crystal-clear waters, white sandy beaches, and palm trees dotting the island, this is one of the most beautiful and relaxing places in the entire state. However, there are mosquitoes year-round, so come prepared if you plan on staying for a few days—the nearest store is a long boat ride away.

Grape Hammock Fish Camp

You don’t have to travel out of central Florida to the panhandle or Keys to experience natural Florida camping at its best. Grape Hammock Fish Camp offers camping and RV sites on the shores of Lake Kissimmee. There are also cabins available for rent for those who prefer to have a building to stay in. Here, you can explore Florida’s wetlands on an airboat tour and take chartered fishing trips for some of the best bass fishing in the state.

To reserve your spot at Grape Hammock today or for more information, please give us a call at 863-692-1500.

Animals Native to Florida Wetlands

Florida’s wetlands provide the ideal habitat for hundreds of different species of birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. While humans keep developing formerly wild environments in Florida, the wetlands in the south of the state have become a last refuge for many endangered animals.

These rivers, swamps, and mangroves draw so many different kinds of animals because they offer something for every class of animal: shallows for fish spawning, ideal nesting conditions for birds, and a robust food chain to support large predators.

Here are some of the more exotic animals you might spy on a trip to Florida’s wetlands.

American Alligator

Florida’s most recognizable animal, the alligator can grow up to 15 ft in length and weigh around 1,000 lbs. They are more tolerant to cold weather than other crocodilian reptiles, so you can find them throughout the state of Florida year-round.

You will most likely spot them sun-bathing on the shore of a lake or river, but you can also find them swimming in the water if you have a sharp eye. 

American Crocodile

The American crocodile is the largest predator in the state of Florida, with the males measuring a staggering 20 ft and 2,000 lbs. when full-grown.

Though you might not be able to tell the difference between the American crocodile and alligator, they are easy to tell apart once you know what to look for. The crocodile has a much narrower and pointier snout, and only lives in the southern tip of the state near saltwater or brackish environments. 

Florida Manatee

It is hard to mistake the manatee for any other creature because there’s just nothing else like it in fresh water. The Florida manatee is a large, grey, round animal with a paddle-shaped tail and flippers, and it slowly cruises around springs, rivers, and mangroves chewing aquatic plants. They are one of the few species of mammals that spends their whole life swimming in water.

Though they can hold their breath for an impressive 20 minutes, they regularly come up to breathe and sometimes swim at the surface of the water, where you can best spot them.

Wood Stork

Florida’s wetlands are some of the best bird-watching sites in the world, as exotic birds from the north along with native Florida birds share the same habitat during the winter. One of the most interesting birds to watch is the wood stork, the only species of stork that breeds in North America.

Watch this impressive white-feathered bird with a black head wade in the shallows looking for prey as it lowers its bill into the water, waiting for fish to bump into it. Once it feels the prey, it swiftly snaps its bill shut in the blink of an eye.

Lake Kissimmee Wildlife Airboat Tour

The Everglades National Park isn’t the only place where you can find these exotic animals and others; you can watch alligators, wood storks, bobcats, bald eagles, and more exciting native wildlife right in Central Florida at Lake Kissimmee.

Come to Grape Hammock Fish Camp for the best airboat tour on Lake Kissimmee, and our guides can take you to the best wildlife watching spots in the area.

What Is an Airboat?

In many ways, the airboat is the distinctive boat of Florida. Though they were invented in Canada, airboats first appeared in America nearly 100 years ago.

Ever since then, they have been used to explore the unique environment of the Everglades and have become synonymous with natural Florida.

In fact, it is difficult to reach many spots in the Everglades, Lake Kissimmee, and the St. John’s with anything other than an airboat.

How Airboats Work

What makes the airboat special is that it does not have any underwater steering or propulsion parts. A large propeller inside a cage powers the airboat forward, and the pilot uses rudders to direct the column of air and change directions.

The boat itself is a long, light, shallow structure that sits on the top of the water. This makes it easy for the propeller to push the boat forwards, since it can skim across the surface rather than cut through water like other boats.

It takes considerable skill to operate an airboat, since there is no mechanism to stop or reverse the boat.  

Airboat Tours

Airboats are perfectly suited to exploring Florida’s nature at its best. Lake Kissimmee is home to a lot of marshes, sloughs, and other wetland environments.

Boats with underwater propellers or deep hulls cannot access many of these areas without disturbing or destroying the habitat and getting stuck in the shallows. Lake Kissimmee has a similar environment with many swamps and shallows that are inaccessible by other boats.

What is there to see on an airboat tour? In addition to the striking scenery of Florida’s unique wetlands, airboat tours offer up-close looks of the native animals of the area like alligators, exotic birds, deer, and even buffalo!

An experienced airboat pilot with deep knowledge of their environment will be able to take passengers close to these animals in their natural habitat, which is an increasingly rare opportunity.

Lake Kissimmee Airboat Rides

When it comes to airboat tours, you can’t do better than Grape Hammock’s. Our guides, Captain Kevin and Captain Barrett, have lived on Lake Kissimmee all their lives and have a deep love and respect for the area.

Come experience natural Florida through the eyes of those who know it best with our airboat rides!

What Is a Lunker Bass?

The term “lunker” is used by anglers to describe an exceptionally large fish for its type. You would hardly write home about a 2 lbs. largemouth bass, but a bluegill of the same size would certainly be worthy of the lunker title.

However, you will most commonly hear fishermen speak of lunker bass, because bass are the most popular freshwater trophy fish in America.

There’s no standard length or weight to qualify a bass as a lunker (though the Bassmaster Lunker Club™ has set the mark at any largemouth over 10 lbs.)—it is more of an informal way to talk about an unusually large or fat bass.

Lunkers in Lake Kissimmee Chain

Florida is home to some of the best bass fishing lakes in the world, and the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes is never far from the top of the list. The Bassmaster Classic—the Super Bowl of professional bass fishing—has been held in Florida twice since its inception, and both times it came to the Kissimmee Chain.

The two largest lakes in the chain, Lake Toho and Lake Kissimmee, are each renowned for being lunker paradises. It is not unheard of to catch over 30 bass in just one day of fishing on either of these lakes, but the real draw is the number of 10+ lbs. bass you can catch.

Lunker Baits

There are many baits and fishing strategies you can use to catch bass in Florida. And almost any of them can land a lunker in the well.

But, some methods are better than others when you are lunker hunting. In the summertime, the biggest fish tend to stay below the surface and out of the sunlight where the water is cool.

Though topwater fishing is one of the most exciting ways to spend the day, you will want to use a different strategy to target lunkers.

The best bait you can use to catch a trophy fish is a live shiner. Large plastic worms, crankbaits without bills, and swimbaits are all good options as well if you want to use artificial bait, but nothing outperforms trolling hydrilla beds with live shiners.   

Launch your boat at one of Lake Kissimmee’s original ramps at Grape Hammock Fish Camp. Make your fishing trip into a fishing weekend by staying in one of our cabins or sleeping under the stars at our campsite.

For more information about fishing, camping, or renting a cabin, feel free to contact us at 863-692-1500.

5 Ways to Take Advantage of Waterfront Camping

When you vacation at a waterfront campsite, you might think that swimming is the only way to beat the heat and take advantage of the local waters. But if you want to make the most of your trip, consider how you can integrate different waterfront activities into each part of your day. Whether you want to have a new dining experience, find an adventure, or just bond with your loved ones, here are five ways bring your camping activities offshore.

Cast Your Line

If you’re looking for a great way to connect with your family and sharpen your skills, grab your fishing pole and fill your tackle box for a day of fishing. Show your smaller campers how to hook their first catch or just let them brush up on baiting and casting in a new territory.

Fishing is one of the most family-friendly sports of waterfront camping, but it’s also a great option for those that want a solo activity. Both seasoned and novice fisherman can search for that elusive lunker, try new techniques, or just unwind for a few hours of fishing.

Have a Waterfront Picnic

Connecting with nature is a great way to improve your mental performance and boost your mood, but hiking isn’t the only way to have a true camping experience. Take in the fresh air and cool breeze outside by bringing your biggest blanket and filling your picnic basket for an unforgettable waterfront meal.

Remember, being on and near bodies of water brings a lot of additional sun exposure, so it’s important to stay hydrated during your picnic. Some hydration-packed foods to bring in your basket include watermelon, cantaloupe, oranges, cucumber, and tomato.

Leave the Dock

If you’re bringing your own boat or renting one from the campsite, you can venture out on the water to get an even better view of the local scene, a unique fishing spot, or a private getaway for the whole family. And, if you want to top off your day of camping with a photo-worthy scene, you can take a boat out to watch the sunset with a view that’s truly unforgettable.

Before you leave the dock, fill your bags with some boating essentials such as sunscreen, lifejackets, and water. If you’ve got some guests on board that are a little harder to entertain, bring along a deck of cards, a magazine, or something else guaranteed to keep them occupied on the water. 

Get Some Sun

Camping is a great vacation idea for those who want to stay active, get in touch with nature, and absorb some essential vitamin D. But, if you’re looking for a more relaxing way to spend your day, unwind by the waters of your campsite and sunbathe. Bring a great summer read, plug in to your playlist, or just enjoy the natural sights and sounds of the waves around you.  

Of course, you’ll need to pack some SPF to have a safe sunbathing experience, but don’t worry about losing your tan. You’ll still be able to get a great glow while your sunscreen prevents harmful rays from causing an unwanted sunburn.

Take an Airboat Tour

If you want an ultimate water adventure during your next camping retreat, book your trip with one of the best Central Florida airboat rides. Airboat tours are family-friendly, affordable adventures that take any camping trip to the next level.

While on tour, you’ll not only zoom across the waters of your campsite, but you’ll also take in the best local scenery. And, with an experienced airboat captain, your boat stops at prime locations to see the local wildlife and get firsthand insight on the area’s history.   

Whether you’re a first-time camper or a practiced tent pitcher, there are plenty of new ways to experience the outdoors when you go waterfront camping.

When’s the Best Time to Go on an Airboat Ride?

Florida isn’t all beaches and theme parks. It is home to some of the most scenic wetlands in America, where famous Florida wildlife like alligators, manatees, and roseate spoonbills coexist.

The best way to experience all of the beautiful scenery and creatures is by zooming across marshes, mangroves, and lakes on an airboat tour.

However, you may wonder when is the best time of the year to go on an airboat tour? Can you can see more animals in the summer or winter, in the morning or at midday?

Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of your airboat ride.

Best Time of Year

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but Florida is a nice place to be during any time of year. Unlike many other places in America, there are really only two seasons in the Sunshine State: summer and winter.

The summers are hot and sunny, the winters mild and dry. When it comes to airboat tours, the cooler temperatures are actually preferred times to go.

During the winter, you have a greater chance to see a lot of alligators. The summer is hot, and most of them are hiding in the shade. We do, however, operate year-round.

Best Time of Day

When the weather is nice, there really is no bad time of day to go on an airboat tour. If it’s alligators you are dying to see, then around dawn or dusk would be the best, since they are most active at these times. But, you will be able to see them sunning themselves on the banks of the shore whenever the sun is out (assuming it isn’t too hot).

What time you take your tour is entirely up to you, though it is always smart to keep in mind the weather conditions for your time of year.

For example, Florida is notorious for the afternoon thunderstorms, so you could opt to go out early in the morning.

There’s no one that knows Lake Kissimmee better than the folks at Grape Hammock Fish Camp. Our captains can help you experience Florida’s natural wildlife like never before.

If you have any questions about wildlife, weather, or seasons, don’t hesitate to ask us. Check out this page to learn more about our airboat tours.

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