St. Johns River | Bass Fishing Paradise in the Southeast

By Outdoor America

The southeastern part of the country is loaded with bass fishing destinations. Lakes and rivers across all these states garner hundreds of thousands of anglers each year as well as many national bass fishing tournament trails. The reason being, some of the largest bass on record come from these waters.

The St. Johns River in Florida is known locally as a “bass fishing paradise.” This Florida gem is the longest river in the state and makes its mark by the largemouth bass it can produce. St. Johns is a system of multiple lakes and dozens of main tributaries, which supply the fertile water required to produce great numbers of huge largemouth bass.


The St. Johns River

As Florida’s longest river, it travels approximately 310 miles north from its narrow, unnavigable headwaters to the mouth east of Jacksonville. Similar to most rivers in Florida, the St. Johns is a low flow waterway. It drops only around 30 feet from its source to mouth, making it almost seem current-less in places. Numerous lakes form from the river, including Lake George which is Florida’s second-largest lake behind Lake Okeechobee. The river is diverse with more narrow, shallow sections south of Palatka Florida to Lake George. Whereas north of the town, the river can stretch as wide as three miles and gets a little deeper by Florida standards.



Many anglers split the river into two sections. The first is the upper section that includes lake Washington, Winder, and Poinsett downstream to Lake George. The other is the outflow of Lake George through the Palatka city area, which holds the best bass fishing on this river, however. Anglers can expect to catch bass well over the 5-lb mark in this section. For this reason, the St. Johns River consistently holds a spot on Bassmaster’s top lakes and rivers list. In fact, in 2019 the Bassmaster’s Elite Series professional bass fishing tournament trail visited the river and it took nearly 100-lbs in a 4-day event to win.


Commercial & Advertising Photographer in Charleston, SC Andy Hagedon


St. Johns River Bass Fishing

The St. Johns River may hold some exceptional bass but it is not one of the easiest bass fishing locations to figure out. However, it is worth the challenge.

First and foremost, Lake George is a must stop. Large grass beds fill the lake where bass will be drawn to early in the year. Also, the lake is littered with brush piles and fallen trees that provide structure for large bass to live and feed in.

The same type of grass beds can be found as you move downstream from Lake George to the Palatka area and north towards Jacksonville. The further downstream you go, the more tidal waters come into play. Changing tides influence fish positioning and has to be considered when fishing for bass in Florida on this river. Tidal current will force larger bass to move from the grass to eddies and other protected areas that block the current.

The biggest key on the St. Johns River is to take your time. Fish grass beds slow and deliberately. The same holds true when fishing structure in the river. Large bass are looking for big, easy meals, and often you have to drop a lure in front of them several times before getting a bite.

Largemouth bass in the St. Johns River can be caught on many of the Florida bass fishing classics. Here are the top five bass fishing lures to pack with you when fishing the river.


  1. Spinnerbaits
  2. Ribbon tail worms
  3. Soft stick baits
  4. Beaver-style creature baits
  5. Topwater prop baits


Standard colors like black/blue and junebug are staples for Florida bass. Flashy color spinnerbaits and dark-colored topwater prop baits like the River2Sea Whopper Plopper will all get the job done when fishing for bass in Florida.

Many places claim to be the bass fishing capital of the world. Few actually hold up to that title year after year. The St. Johns River is the exception. This bass fishing location in northeastern Florida has hundreds of miles of big bass waters where every cast could be the bite of a lifetime.

Outdoor America

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