Stick Marsh Fishing
& Farm 13 Fishing
It's hard to envision just how great the
Stick Marsh and Farm 13 fishery really
was for trophy bass fishing. If you're a serious or competitive bass
angler, you really owe it to yourself to fish this tremendous freshwater
bass fishery at least once. It definitely has been one of the best bass fishing destinations in
Florida or even the entire country at one time. If nothing else, catching
trophy bass out of what use to be thick vegetation and from around standing and submerged
timber will truly test your angling skills.
The Stickmarsh fishery has trophy bass in
had all the ingredients that a big bass lakes should: a long growing
season, lots of healthy fish, plenty of forage and tons of
But a lot of our Florida fishing lakes have,
but when the hurricanes hit Stick Marsh in the early 2000's big bass
fishing on Stick Marsh changed forever.
What's still so special about the Stickmarsh and Farm 13?
At 6,500 acres, the Stickmarsh/Farm 13 development does now feel
intimidating when compared to as fishing some of Florida's larger lakes. Most anglers
quickly feel right at home on these vigorous bass waters. It's important to anglers
to know, most grass, structure as we know it, has disappeared. The shorelines for navigation
and fishing have become the norm,
although GPS equipment is still highly recommended for navigation.
Stick Marsh was a marsh. It was full of
trees that were tall and brush and some wild fruit trees. There were
swampy areas and areas not so wet. The entire area was surrounded on all
four sides by canals. In the late
1980s, the St. John's River Water Management District and the U.S.
Army Corp of Engineers initiated a project to restore the drained
marshland and to construct reservoirs, canals and levees that would
offer a new level of flood protection. The water flowed over the top
of the inside levies and filled up the stickmarsh. This created, Stick
Marsh the lake. The FWC then stocked the area, brush, trees and vegetation
still intact, with gamefish.
The original purpose for stocking bass was to be a
natural reproduction fishery. All parties involved felt that to increase the
catch ratio and to extend the life of Stick Marsh fishing, it would
not be good for folks to eat the game fish. For this reason, they
regulated the area to be catch and release for largemouth bass.
Catching trophy fish is what drives most
anglers, and this Central Florida fishing lake holds a ton of bass. Stickmarsh
features 800 pounds of fish biomass per acre, of which 35 percent is
composed of largemouth bass. This staggering figure is maintained by a
very productive environment. Fed by fertile agricultural runoff,
Stickmarsh/Farm 13 bass produce swift growth rates. Bass can grow
up to 2 1/2 pounds in one year! While the Everglades still holds the record for number of fish caught per hour,
Stick Marsh has a higher growth rate.
According to a biologist
with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Stickmarsh and
Farm 13 are very nutrient rich. The nutrition provides plenty of food to
support threadfin and gizzard shad, small bream and
shiners, which are all present in good numbers. Those, in turn, feed the
The catch-and-release regulation for bass has
been in place on this complex since 1990 to make sure the trophy bass potential
remains in its present condition. With such fertile inflow and good habitat, trophy bass fishing in this lake should be
many years to come.
At the same time Stick Marsh was being
assembled, Farm 13 was being built, in the exact same way. The Southern most
levy that made the Southern boundary for Stick Marsh was the Northern boundary
for Farm 13. Farm 13 is larger and is definitely safer for boat operation.
The land of Stick Marsh and Farm 13 both belonged to Fellsmere Farms.
As a vegetable farm, Farm 13 had canals or
irrigation ditches. These canals still remain below the surface. The deepest
portions of Farm 13 are at the center of the old channels. The shallowest
portions are at the tops of the old levies that are just under the water.
The two lakes together are about 6,500 acres. The
Northern boundary of the two lakes is Fellsmere, which lies on the
borders of Brevard and Indian County. The lakes are North/East of Blue
Cypress and West of I-95. The closest town is Fellsmere. Fellsmere is
very small and isolated. To the North is Melbourne and to the South
is Vero Beach.
These fishing lakes are not found on very many maps. The lakes were
made after the State of Florida was mapped.
Fishing days of catching and releasing 75+ bass are
not unheard of on these lakes. Most anglers come to Stick Marsh
looking for double-digit trophy bass! It's been said more than once, that
per acre of water, the Stickmarsh and Farm 13 yield more bass exceeding 10
pounds than any other Florida lakes open to the general public including,
Butler Chain, Conway
Walk in Water .
Ten-pounders can be caught during any month of the year on Stickmarsh.
But there are
opinions regarding when is the best time of year to catch a giant
trophy bass on this
central Florida fishing lake.
As with most Florida lakes or fisheries, periods in and around the spawn are
the best times to catch a "Hawg." Although
you can catch 10-pounders all
through the summer, there are just fewer of them and they are harder to
The spawn on the Stickmarsh ordinarily
runs from February through April. The greatest spawning activity can
be expected during the months of March and April, with the optimum
water temperatures for taking a giant bass occurring in mid-March
through May. Sight-fishing for big females on the Stickmarsh is pretty
tough, due to dense aquatic vegetation and dark water coloration.
Sometimes when anglers target trophy
bass, they give up the opportunity to catch quantities of fish. This
on the Stick marsh. During an average day on the Stickmarsh with a
guide, anglers can expect to catch
plenty of bass with an outstanding chance of catching at least one "Hawg".
Bass can be found throughout the Stickmarsh, but certain areas,
like most lakes, provide better action than others.
Regardless of where you
Stickmarsh or Farm 13, moving water affects the bait fish,
which controls fish behavior. One of the most
predictable times to catch bass here is when water is being pumped into the lake. If you're fishing when this occurs,
get to the inflow area quickly because the bass bite is probably
already starting to happen.
The downside with the inflow bite is
that there's no announcement that the pumps are going to be
running. Guides never know when these inflows will occur.
You should be aware, however, that the pumps are often more active
during the rainy season.
It doesn't take long to find the
first Stickmarsh hotspot if the water is running at the boat ramp.
Check to see if water is being pumped through the inflow pipes
next to the ramp. If so, don't leave without spending some time
casting around the moving water created by the inflow. Bass tend
to gravitate toward current and are usually in a feeding mode at
those times. In addition, all of the most productive areas are always
marked with many of boats.
Other productive areas on the
Stickmarsh can be found on the southwestern corner, which is noted
for vast expanses of spawning areas that the big females seem to
prefer. The northwestern corner is also a very productive location
for trophy bass and is a favorite among regular Stickmarsh guides.
Perhaps no area is more famous on
this side of the lake than the Twin Palms area, which rates as one
of the most consistent places on the lake to catch large quantities of
The "spillway" on the southeastern
side of the lake's Farm 13 portion may be the most productive
point to fish on the entire development, particularly when there is
water running in. This spot truly suits the phrase, "the early
bird gets the fish", because on many trips, boats race for this location.
the right conditions, a single boat can hook
over 300 bass in a single day.
The average bass runs between 1 and
4 pounds with some stretching into the 7- to 10-pound range.
Another area to monitor for
inflowing water is at the pump on the east levee. When the water
starts flowing in, bass really stack up at this spot. Again,
current is the key to fishing Farm 13.
The maze of ditches on StickMarsh/Farm
13 embedded in
the lake bottom act just like creek channels in large reservoirs.
Fish lurk along the hydrilla-lined edges of these ditches and use
them as roadways to move throughout the lake. The ditches
are one of the most consistent locations to encounter big
Stickmarsh bass, with a variety of lures.
Knowing that these trenches are
lined with forage-packed vegetation serves as a hugh advantage. It's
not uncommon to witness the water erupt as schooling bass ambush
prey that gets flushed from vegetation. When bass start
schooling on bait, they are particularly susceptible to artificial lures.
locate these schooling bass along the ditches, anchor up, stay
way off and make long cast
repeatedly to them. Do not use your trolling motor. It
scares the bait fish
and in most cases spooks the school of bass. There's no telling how many bass you might
catch from a single location if you don't spoke them off.
The only place better to find
bass than an irrigation ditch is at the intersection of two
canals. By observing your boats depth finder and looking at the
growth patterns of the vegetation
along the ditches, you can easily locate the crossing ditches.
Regardless of which area
you are fishing, one question we always get from anglers
is, "What bait should I use?" Wild shiners are always
a good option on all Florida lakes and used by most
guides fishing Stickmarsh. They can be fished from an
anchored boat or trolled on bobber rigs to cover move water.
Be sure to read this
from Capt Chris Shepard on fishing wild shiners.
find more pleasure in using artificial baits. Nothing is more exciting than
catching bass on topwater lures. Even with the missed strikes, it's
the action that we can't resist. Walking style baits
like Zara spook and Storm chug-bug lures are most anglers choice for topwater action.
The news craze among topwater
lure fishermen has been the swimming frogs, like the
Berkley Bat Wing Frog or the
Zoom Horny Toad. These baits are some of the easiest to
fish. You simply throw them out and retrieve back on the
surface. The hardest part of fishing these style baits is the
hook set it self. As in most bass fishing, after a little field-testing,
the bass generally let you know which way they want it.
These topwater lures can be worked
over the top of vegetation with great success. And you
better be ready for the heart jarring explosion before fishing
Stickmarsh, because some of these topwater strikes are
Stick baits, like
Berkley Gulp "Sinking Minnow" are mainstay lures on
the Stickmarsh and have accounted for more big bass than any
other artificial bait used by our clients. Our
guides prefer 5-inch versions in dark colors, such as
watermelon, June bug and brown. These versatile lures can be
rigged weedless -- a huge advantage when fishing many portions
of the Stickmarsh.
As for crank baits, nothing
beats a Rat-L-Trap on the Stickmarsh for coving water. These lipless,
medium-running crankbaits can be fished at a variety of
depths, depending on retrieval speed.
When the wind blows. there is no
better bait to cover water then a spinnerbait. A favorite for
any lake in Florida is a War Eagle, our favorite is a 3/8-ounce
Golden Shiner pattern with dual willow leaf blades.
We also want you to know that
when Booking a trip with us you will
be placed with a member of our team, not a guide who has been brought in on an
"as needed" basis. We take pride in what we do and our
Experience Florida Bass
fishing at it's best!
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related information including our rates can be found by clicking
We also have a full
photo album and testimonials of the fish caught
by our customers. If you are ready for the adventure of a lifetime, click here to
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