Where Can You Catch Tilapia? Tips from the Pros

Tilapia is a popular freshwater fish around Asia, Africa, and now the US. It is known for its delicious white meat, its mild taste and less fishy smell. Because of their prolific nature, tilapia is one of the most caught and consumed freshwater fishes where they are endemic. They are also mainstays in seafood markets and amongst restaurants. But where can you catch tilapia by yourself?

Where Can You Catch Tilapia

If you intend to catch one yourself, you have to know more about the elusive tilapia. As such, you need to know where to fish tilapia, what baits to use and other tips from the pros. In this post, we give you these and more so, read on.

Best Tips for Fishing Tilapia

Although tilapias are abundant, their shy and elusive behavior make tilapias more challenging to catch. To take on the tilapia better on your fishing spree, here are some of the best tips for fishing tilapia.

  • Tilapias are herbivores.

Do not take expensive baits like nightcrawlers, minnows or worms because tilapias much prefer plant-based baits. Take small bread balls, corn or peas instead when you go fishing for tilapia.

  • Be geared with the right tackle.

Not all lures are effective when catching tilapia. Since they are considerably small to medium in size, a light tackle is recommended. To go along with this should be a mid-action rod, a #4 hooks and a spinning reel at 4–8-pound test.

Using small floats is also deemed helpful to suspend the baits on spawning spots. A split-shot may be considered to draw the bait deep into the water up to the bottom.

  • Where can you catch tilapia? Take your spot in shallow waters.

The natural habitat of tilapias is brackish, shallow waters. During spawning season, you would catch lots of tilapia where freshwater vegetation is present. They are usually spawning in those river, pond or lake craters.

You have to be very careful when approaching their nest though. Tilapias are easily spooked and they are agile, so they could swim out even before you catch them.

Where Can You Catch Tilapia in the USA?

In terms of states or cities, tilapias are abundant in the states of Texas, Alabama, Florida, and along the Mississippi line. This is understandable since these states have a lot of lakes, rivers, and brackish waters where tilapias could thrive. Their temperature is also ideal for the preferred humidity level which tilapias love.

In terms of location, tilapias are found in shallow waters with rich vegetation and where the temperature does not drop below 50-60F. They use the greens to cover their crater homes in either brackish or freshwater.

Best Bodies of Water to Fish for Tilapia

The best bodies of water to fish tilapia would be lakes, canals, ponds, brackish, fresh and shallow waters including estuaries.

Best Seasons and Times to Fish for Tilapia

The best time to fish for tilapia would ultimately be during the spawning season. There are two reasons for this: one, they are hungry and two, they are very territorial. As such, they swim over a potential food right away or be aggressive towards anything that touches their territory.

While tilapia is available to be caught year-round, they are very abundant during spring and fall. During these spawning seasons, they are best found in shallow waters that are at 60F. The good thing is, they continue spawning until the temperature drops. This gives you ample time to catch as many tilapias as you can.

Best Bait to Catch Tilapia With

As we have already mentioned, tilapias are herbivores. Hence, the best fishing baits for tilapias as per observation would be peas, corn and small bread rolls. For the bread rolls, expert tilapia fishers recommend that it should be frozen first to lure small fishes.

Since tilapias are territorial, they would aggressively shoo off those lured small fishes, giving you the advantage of catching them. Interestingly, expert anglers also recommend using cheese as bait for tilapia.

Best Bait to Catch Tilapia

Experts also suggest that you first find out specific tilapia diets in your locality as they could vary depending on the fishing location.

How to Prepare When Going Tilapia Fishing

To successfully catch tilapia in abundance, you must be prepared with the essentials before casting the rod. Here are some of the things that must be in check before you go tilapia fishing.

  • Plan your trip by deciding where can you catch tilapia.

Before anything else, plan your trip strategically. This means that you should have marked the locations where you shall cast the rod and hook, the time of the day where you will go and the season when you should go fishing for tilapia.

  • Bring the necessary gear, equipment, boat, and license.

This is the most important phase of the preparation. First, be gear and equipment ready. You have to know the best baits to lure tilapia, and the kind of tackle, fishing rod and hook to be brought.

Since tilapias are easily spooked, you also need to choose the quietest fishing boat to be used. You also have to take note that some states in the US require angling and fishing licenses. Check your state or city’s fishing requirements before going to prevent unnecessary hassle.

  • Get the right bait and tackle.

As have been mentioned, tilapias are herbivores. In this case, load up corn or peas instead of worms or nightcrawlers. You can also lure them with plastic fish baits because tilapias are territorial. As for the tackle, use only light ones and cast it with a #4 hook. 

  • Practice the correct posture.

Tilapias are elusive and you do not want to have a stiff neck, fatigued hand and strained back. As such, it is important for you to maintain a good posture while catching the fishing line.

Interestingly, fishing experts believe that posture affects your fish catching. Hence, as per their observation, a downward sweep of the fishing rod is more effective compared to when you cast it vertically or horizontally.

Where Can You Catch Tilapia? Final Thoughts

There is a reason why tilapias are a popular fish delicacy in the world. Aside from being abundant, their behavior, especially their eating habits, is not that hard to master. Their natural habitats are also easy to mark and locate.

Nonetheless, it is still imperative to take heed of some of the pro tips in fishing tilapia. From identifying the right fishing locations, to choosing baits and tackles, up to the casting motion for the fishing rod, you need these pro tips to catch tilapia properly and abundantly.

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