Fishing in Southwest Florida is nothing less than fantastic. Why? Because you not only have thousands of lakes, canals, gulf waters, rivers and streams, but you have access to almost all these beautiful bodies of water all year long.
With all the boat ramps available, you can launch just about any size boat you have. Personally, my wife Karen and I sold our power boat and bought a 10’ Sea Eagle inflatable that has enough room for all our gear and us! It’s powered with a Motor Guide 55 lb. thrust electric motor, so being stealthy is what we do.
As far as boat ramps go, we hardly ever use the modern, paved ones, we use dirt ramps that were originally made for the herbicide control boats to launch to control a variety of weeks and water plants.
What’s the best part of all this? We catch fish all the time! We’re not trophy fish people and don’t need to have a certain fish in the boat to make our day complete.
We do love catching fish like the Mayan Cichlid, Tilapia, Bass, Bluegill, Channel Catfish, Crappie, Warmouth and a variety of others when available.
If you’re at all wanting to know what a Mayan Cichlid is, then keep reading and you may learn something about this overlooked fish.
These scrappy fish were first discovered here around 1983 and they are originally from Central and South America.
First of all, you’ll find these fish in the most southern states like Florida! One of the really long names is cichlasoma urophthalmus and they are non-native species. They are also called False Red Terror, Orange Tiger, Mexican Mojarra & others, and they are very similar to Black Bass and Sunfish.
They are a beautiful orange color with almost red gills under its head. Around the dorsal fin is a dark green color with black vertical stripes along the sides, and a black spot near the tail.
Although the cichlid doesn’t get very big, it will put a lot of stress on an 8 lb. line. The largest cichlid measured by scientists was 12.6 lbs and weighed 1.5 lbs. The world record is only 15” and the one I have pictured is 14” and weighed around 2 lbs, so you now know what a struggle it was getting it to our net. Luckily I was using 10 lb. line and 8 lb. leader with a baby night crawler. They are sometimes referred to as the ‘atomic sunfish”.
The cichlid also eats snails, grass shrimp, insects, crickets and some vegetation, as well as jigs, wooly worms, small streamers and popping bugs.
There isn’t a size or catch limit, so you can fill your cooler if you like. Besides being very aggressive and lots of fun to catch, these fish are some of the best tasting I’ve ever eaten. It has white, flaky meat and a very mild flavor that I call “YUMMY”.