Florida Fishing Regions
The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes
The lakes in the Kissimmee Chain comprise the headwaters for the entire Everglades system. The upper part of the Chain originates in Orange County with lakes Hart (1,850 acres) and Mary Jane (1,158 acres) and continues south through lakes Center (410 acres), Trout (273 acres), Coon (148 acres), Lizzie (792 acres), Alligator (3,406 acres), Brick (616 acres), East Tohopekaliga (11,968 acres), and Gentry (1,791 acres). These lakes are acidic with tannin-stained, relatively unproductive water. Bass fishing on the upper Kissimmee Chain is tough generally. However, at times decent numbers of bass can be found in Alligator Lake, East Lake Tohopekaliga and Lake Gentry. Access to East Lake Tohopekaliga is available in the city of St. Cloud on Lakeshore Drive. Lakes in the Alligator Chain are accessible from a ramp off C.R.534, 5 miles east of U.S. Hwy 192.
The lower Kissimmee Chain is comprised of lakes Tohopekaliga (18,810 acres), Cypress (4,097 acres), Hatchineha (6,665 acres), Jackson (1,020 acres), Marian (5,739 acres), and Kissimmee (34,948 acres). Almost all have periodic navigational problems with hydrilla. The lower Kissimmee Chain is shallow and extremely sensitive to weather fronts in the winter and early spring. Those fishing shiners will be the most successful under strong cold fronts. Speck fishermen divide time between the open water and the grass. Spawning specks start showing up in bulrush, cattails, kissimmee grass and lily pads in December or January.
Lakes Kissimmee and Marian are best for bluegill and shellcracker in the one-pound-plus range. The last full moon in March almost always finds bedding shellcracker, and bedding bluegill come in about the time shellcrackers are slowing down (April/May). All lakes in the lower chain are accessible from the boat basin in Kissimmee through a lock at the southwest corner of Lake Tohopekaliga. Other access points are at Lake Cypress Rd., off C.R.523 out of St. Cloud; and on Overstreet Rd. (Lake Kissimmee) off C.R.523, 25 miles south of St. Cloud.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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