There’s a little-known secret in Lake County that few local anglers would want anybody to know about. While many tourists and visiting fishermen to the Sunshine State choose coastal locations to drop a line, this Central Florida county of more than 1,000 named lakes offers some of the most diverse and abundant fishing opportunities in the state.
Regarded as a premier fishing destination in North America, Florida is often referred to as “The Fishing Capital of the World.” However, few areas in the state produce so
many “big-catch” prospects as Lake County. During one month in 2005, more than 350 professional and amateur anglers converged for two separate nationally-televised fishing tournaments in Lake County.
Both tournaments were held on the Harris Chain, which is notorious for its supreme largemouth bass and fighting black crappie. The large 13,788-acre Lake Harris and smaller 3,359-acre Little Lake Harris provide some of the best fishing in the eight-lake Harris Chain.
Along with largemouth bass and black crappie, Lake Harris is also bountiful with other species such as bluegill, redear sunfish and sunshine bass. In fact, Lake Harris made
the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) Top 10 list for sunfish fishing sites
Also topping the list for best statewide fishing sites in 2005 are the St. Johns River and Lake George. Both bodies of water are located on the border of north Lake County. Lake George, the second largest lake in the state, is known for its incredible yield of trophy largemouth bass. It tops FWC’s list of Top 10 black bass fishing Areas for 2005.
The St. Johns River is the largest river in Florida as it stretches from west of Vero Beach to Jacksonville. The river tops two statewide fishing lists, weighing in as the fourth best site for catfish and the third best for striped, sunshine and white bass.
Other popular fishing locations in Lake County include the Clermont and Holly chains of lakes.
The Clermont Chain is comprised of 13 lakes that range from 20 to 3,634 acres. The Palatlakaha River, along with Lakes Minneola and Louisa, provide the best fishing opportunities on the Clermont Chain for largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill and redear sunfish. Channel catfish are also abundant as 20-pound catches are not uncommon.
The Holly Chain is comprised of three lakes north of the City of Umatilla. The chain features unusual contours for Florida lakes. The deepest water is found near shore, with a ridge rising in the center. Bass are often found near the deep water closest to the shore and where the bottom rises to the center ridge.
For more information on Lake County’s freshwater fishing opportunities and fishing forecasts, log on to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC’s) Web site at http://floridafisheries.com.