Florida Fishing Regions
Conway Chain of Lakes
Four interconnected lakes in the south Orlando area are collectively referred to as Lake Conway. The public boat ramp is located off Hofner Avenue, two blocks east of Orange Avenue (S.R. 527).
The chain has nearly 1,800 acres of clear water and hard sand bottom, with beds of peppergrass and eelgrass scattered offshore. Some of the best fishing occurs in off-shore areas where aquatic plants or dropoffs are found. Largemouth bass fishing is best from fall through spring. Silver spoons and chrome-colored rattling lures do best when bass are actively schooling during fall and late spring. Schooling bass can be found by locating surface activity or by watching birds feeding in offshore areas on shad and glass minnows pushed to the surface by feeding bass. During the spawning season, bass often are caught in shallow vegetated areas.
Offshore eelgrass beds around islands in the east pool of the north lake are a good place to fish for both bass and speckled perch during early spring. Speckled perch can be caught on minnows, but many anglers use beetle spins or jigs in deeper areas of the lake. Troll or drift until concentrations of speckled perch are located. Bream fishing is best where plant beds are found, with live bait producing the best results.
Windermere Chain (Butler Chain)
A 4,720-acre chain made up of nine interconnected lakes. The only boat access is a county ramp on Lake Down on C.R. 439. Parking is limited. Lakes typically are clear and have sandy bottoms. Small, slow-growing bass are common but an occasional lunker is taken. Bluegill, shellcracker, crappie, and bullhead catfish provide a variety of fishing opportunities. Channels between lakes are shallow, particularly during low rainfall periods. Jon boats and small bass boats are recommended.
Winter Park Chain
2,781 acres in downtown Winter Park. Lakes Virginia, Osceola, Maitland, Mizell and Minneola are interconnected with narrow, but relatively deep channels. A public ramp located behind Rollins College provides boat access, but a ramp use permit is required from the City of Maitland or Winter Park. Water skiing and sightseers in pontoon boats may give anglers the illusion that the chain is not a good fishery. Largemouth bass, sunshine bass, and crappie populations are decent and can provide good angling in an urban setting. Lake Virginia is best for sunshine bass and crappie; Osceola and Maitland for largemouth bass.
These 2,424 acres lie in Lake and Orange counties on S.R. 50 west of Winter Garden. Irregular bottom contours and natural water level fluctuations create habitat that produces an excellent bass fishery. Bluegill, shellcracker and speckled perch also are plentiful. Fishing conditions vary with water level fluctuations. There is some shallow water offshore, and at times emergent vegetation grows in these areas to produce islands. These areas act as natural fish attractors and are good places to fish for bass, and bedding bluegill and shellcracker. A GFC boat ramp is located just south of S.R. 50.
A 156-acre lake in West Orlando just north of S.R. 50. A GFC boat ramp in Barnett Park provides access. A fishing pier and cleared shoreline on the west shore is available for bank fishing. Largemouth bass, bluegill, and shellcracker fishing is good. Sunshine bass are stocked annually and often reach three or four pounds in as many years.
A 147-acre lake in east Orlando. The East-West Expressway bisects the lake, and bridge pilings provide fishing structure. A public boat ramp is located in a small park on the southern lobe of the lake. Bank fishing is available along the southern shore and another small park on the west end of the northern lobe. Largemouth bass, crappie and catfish populations are good. Sunshine bass are stocked to give urban anglers an additional fishing opportunity. This is a good place to take young or inexperienced urban anglers on a first fishing trip.
A 339-acre downtown Orlando lake just south of the Citrus Bowl (Tinker Field). A GFC boat ramp on Gore Street provides public access. A park adjacent to the ramp has waterfront access for bank anglers. A restoration plan to improve sportfish habitat and populations is nearly complete. Largemouth bass, bluegill, shellcracker, speckled perch, catfish, and sunshine bass are in good supply. The fish population should continue to improve as a result of the restoration program.
Formerly famous for largemouth bass fishing, 30,671-acre Lake Apopka is a highly polluted lake in Orange and Lake counties. A GFC ramp in Magnolia Park on C.R. 437 and a county ramp in the city of Winter Garden provide boating access. Despite poor quality fish habitat, speckled perch populations support a decent fishery in the Gourd Neck Springs area. Sunshine bass have been stocked most years since 1980. With abundant shad for forage, sunshines average four pounds by their third year, and fish over six pounds are not uncommon. Saltwater bait shrimp and live grass shrimp fished near the bottom in the spring boil produce the best results. Cooler months are best for crappie and sunshine bass.
Olando Urban Lakes
Orlando is dotted with lakes that vary in size, shape, depth, water quality, and fish populations. Four of these lakes were selected for the Central Florida Urban Fishery Project: Lorna Doone, Richmond, Ivanhoe and Santiago. Parks are located at each of these lakes to ensure public access. Fish feeders and fish attractors installed within easy casting distance from shore aid in bank fishing. Channel catfish and sunshine bass are stocked to enhance fishing opportunities. The four lakes are Fish Management Areas so fishing licenses may be required (Cane Pole Law is not in effect).
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication