How to Catch Tilapia in Florida

How to Catch Tilapia in Florida | Tips from Experts

Tilapia was released accidentally in lakes or ponds in Florida, and from then on, it has successfully established its colony in Florida, Texas, and Arizona regions. Surprisingly, anglers have somehow found an affinity to catch tilapia in Florida.

It has happened because tilapia is easy to find and catch and is less likely to test your fishing skills and gears quality like the large bass, salmons, or redfish. Thus, many beginner anglers find tilapia fishing a good option to begin their angling in Florida.

If you are one of them, these tips on how to catch tilapia in Florida will be helpful for you. The tips include choosing the right time, location, bait, and lures for tilapia fishing.

Key Info about Tilapia in the USA

Before we head out to the fishing tips for tilapia, let’s see some shocking information about the fish, especially in the US.

Tilapia refers to almost 135 species as a common and originated in the middle-east. However, blue tilapia, the most common tilapia in Florida and Texas, originated from Africa. It is unknown how it was released in the lakes or ponds in Florida, but it is now found in abundance in most lakes of Florida.

Nutritionists recommend tilapia as an inexpensive alternative to seafood, and presently, tilapia ranks 4th in the list of most consumed fish in the US. Many people love its smoky BBQ grill or fries.

So, people go for tilapia fishing, and it is rising every year significantly.

How to Catch Tilapia in Florida

Florida has recently seen a surge in tilapia growth, and many anglers are recoding to get 5-7lbs tilapia. It is an inspiring sign for anglers. The fish generally grow up to 20-inches but finding a tilapia of this size in lakes and ponds needs some luck.

As the state record shows, the biggest ever tilapia caught in Florida was 10 lbs. The average tilapia catch weighs around 3.75lbs and reaches 17-18 inches mostly.

So, you see that there’re plentiful options for catching some big tilapias in and around Florida. But for this, you need to know the following tips and tricks properly.

Find the Right Location Is Essential

The meaty fish is found mostly in shallow water. You will find them in freshwater estuaries mostly. Also, you can get them in salty water.

In Florida, these days, most ponds and lakes are abundant with these delicious fish. Since tilapia is a smaller fish, it often hides under vegetation in shallow water to protect them from large fishes and other predators.

The good thing about tilapia is you will most likely find a school of these fishes near shallow water and dense vegetation. So, fishing them should get easier for you. During their spawning season, you can locate them by their spawning bed.

It resembles craters and is found mostly at the bottom of the pond or lake. However, remember that tilapia is nervous fish, and once they sense any danger or presence of anglers, they will spook quicker than you anticipate. So, move carefully, making sure you don’t disturb their presence.

Fishing during Spawning Seasons Increases Your Chance

You should go fishing any species when the chances of getting them to remain the highest. And all anglers know that the best chance of catching any fish is during their spawning season. The same goes for tilapia.

So, you should target the tilapia during their peak time of spawning. This being said, you must know when tilapia spawns.  Biologists suggest that tilapia spawns mostly in cold water. So, you can target them when the water temperature falls under 60°F.

It means that your best chance to catch the tilapia is fall and spring. But, you can catch them almost any time during the year. So, instead of waiting for the right season, you can always go out in the nearby lake or pond to target the delicacy.

Doesn’t Get Too Close To the Fish

Tilapia is a shy and spooky fish. So, when you go close to the fish and its spawning bed, the fish will flee away. Thus, you will lose the chance of landing the fish.  Therefore, you must avoid the spawning bed and be careful not to spook the tilapia away unintentionally.

Find the Right Bait

When choosing the bait for tilapia, you need to understand that the fish is herbivorous. They eat different plants. So, you can choose corn or peas as your primary bait for tilapia.

Also, many experts use bread balls to target the fish. At times, hooking the bread ball can be difficult due to its softness. In this case, you can freeze the balls for a few hours to harden them and penetrate them with the hook easily.

Also, you could take advantage of the territorial instinct of tilapia to target them. You can do it with fish-like structures.  Also, you can use small vertebrates and fish to lure tilapia. Finally, you can exchange views with the local anglers to find the right lure and baits for tilapia in a specific region.

Use the Right Technique to Hook the Bait

When it comes to hooking the bait, you should choose short lures. Lures such as small earthworms will work fine for tilapia along with a short hook.

If you see tilapia going away with the bait frequently, it indicates that you have failed to hook the bait properly. So, it would be best to practice a bit to hook different baits and lures to land the tilapia since the fish has a reputation for snatching the bait without any problem.

Use Light Tackle

For tilapia, you don’t need to choose heavyweight tackles. A small tackle will do fine as tilapia is relatively a small fish. A spinning reel with a 6ft to 7ft rod is the ideal setup for landing tilapia. For fishing lines, a monofilament line with 4 to 8 pounds weight is suitable. You need to spool the fishing line properly with the right alignment. It will increase the landing chance of tilapias better.

How to Catch Tilapia in Florida


This is our entire guideline on how to catch tilapia in Florida. When you choose the right location, time, and bait, landing the tilapia is a matter of time only. You will love the delicacy this fish brings in your dish, either in BBQ or smoky flavor.

You can fry them and also add them as a course in the main dish. So, which is your favorite tilapia dish that you will try once you catch the fish.

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