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November 19, 2007

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Sunshine Largemouths

Ocala National Forest, north-central Florida
Target species: Largemouth bass
January avg. temps: 70 high, 50 low
Round-trip airfare to Orlando: $195
Accommodations: free camping

There are literally hundreds of small lakes and grassy ponds in this 389,000-acre national forest about 40 miles north of Orlando (fs.fed.us/r8/florida/recreation/index_oca.shtml). A few are busy places with improved boat ramps, but many offer only backcountry access by primitive sand roads. Rent a canoe or kayak at one of several forest-based concessions, and then use the SUV you hired at the Orlando airport to reach seldom-fished water. Camping at designated “primitive” sites is free. Get a copy of the Forest Service fishing booklet and a map when you check in.

--John Merwin

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