The following is a generalized quarterly fishing forecast for the Fish Orlando! program. For even more up-to-date information, we suggest you call or visit a local bait-and-tackle shop or guide service. At times we will provide information for some local contacts, which indicated they were willing to be listed herein.
Fish Orlando!'s mission is to create and promote convenient, quality fishing opportunities in the greater Orlando area. Initiated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in 1998, the program is supported by the City of Orlando, City of Ocoee, City of Winter Park, Orange County, BASS PRO SHOPS and a variety of other businesses and volunteer/civic groups.
For a complete listing of directions to public fishing opportunities in Orange County, contact our office for a free copy of the Fish Orlando! Fishing Map (1601 Scotty's Road, Kissimmee, Florida 34744; phone: 352-732-1225; email: fishorlando@MyFWC.com).
New "Fish Orlando!" iPhone App now available!
This app will give you key information about the "Fish Orlando!" sites, where they are, their amenities, what the target species are at each location, and even a map to show you the way. More information is available at the iTunes store or by searching "Fish Orlando" in the App Store on your iPhone.
New Weekly Freshwater Fishing Guide Reports brought to you by the Wildlife Foundation of Florida.
Starke Lake: The once prevalent submersed eelgrass that was eradicated by the winter 2012 hydrilla treatment is slowly recovering in the water less than 6 feet. However, our surveys in winter 2013 showed this reduction did result in a negative impact to the fish population and the fishery. While the lake should recover in a couple years, the numbers of bass have been reduced and fishing is probably the worst it has been since Fish Orlando was formed in 1999. With that said, largemouth bass should be moving into the grass areas to spawn. Try flipping soft plastic craws inside areas that have cattails (tall flat stemmed grasses that can grow 6 feet or higher). Also try casting u-vibe speed worms Texas-rigged on 1/8 oz weights in the pads and grass. A lipless crankbait fished so that it hits the tops of the submerged vegetation is a good method to check for active fish. If lipless crankbaits don’t work switch to flukes, Carolina-rigged plastic baits or try a wacky rigged finesse worm or trick worm.
Turkey Lake: Like Starke Lake, largemouth bass should be in spawning mode and the lake’s catch rates last year were the highest ever recorded! Topwaters or soft plastic jerk baits cast back into the emergent grass pockets are usually productive. If bites do not come with an active retrieve, try “dead sticking” i.e. leaving the lure sit motionless for a minute or two at a time. The area where the two lobes of the lake come together in a bottleneck is often a good spot. If a cold front sweeps through, fishing can be tough, but occasionally probing the dredge areas in the lake using crankbaits and Carolina-rigged plastic worms can save a trip. The dredge areas are listed on a topographical map, which can be obtained by emailing or calling the Fish Orlando office (see contact information above).
Black crappie (Speck) fishing is usually good this quarter and minnows is one of the best ways to catch these good eating fish. Try drifting and/or trolling minnows or jig/minnow combinations at different depths and speeds in the south lobe of the lake, or in the north lobe straight out from the fixed fishing pier towards the boat concession area.
Due to deed restrictions there is no public boat access on Turkey Lake, but the FWC, the City of Orlando and Bass Pro Shops have teamed together to provide a Boat Loaner Program where four boats can be rented for only $32 a morning (7 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.; Thurs - Sun). Call the City of Orlando’s Bill Frederick Park at 407-299-5581 to reserve a boat. A few close places to purchase crappie minnows are Palmer Feed Store in downtown Orlando (407-841-8924), Get Hooked Bait and Tackle in Ocoee (407-704-8755) or Ace Hardware in Winter Garden (407-656-2593).
Lake Underhill: In the north lobe there is topped out hydrilla and peppergrass that creates edges in the deeper holes that are holding fish. Try a fluke, seinko or wacky rigged bait in these areas. You can also try flipping both the shoreline and lakeward edges of the topped out vegetation around these dredge holes when the sun is high. In addition to the inside edges use your depth finder in this north lobe to find where the deeper open water hydrilla fades to a clean bottom i.e. a breakline (as of Dec 2013 approx 12-13 feet). Try crankbaits, Carolina-rigs and a Texas-rigged paddle-tail worm along this breakline for some big bites. In the south lobe try the shallow (5-10 foot) peppergrass and eelgrass with spinnerbaits and hard jerk baits when they are active or a 4 inch worm fished a foot or so behind a 1/32 oz pegged worm weight when their activity is more lethargic.
Ivanhoe: With the majority of bass in spawn mode, fishing should begin to be productive up close to the bank. Try the edges of the submersed vegetation with finesse plastic worms or soft jerk baits. If this is unproductive try fishing around the emergent vegetation (i.e. pads, bulrush and cattails). If the fish are not active try rigging the baits “wacky” style or fishing them in a dead stick manner.
Clear Lake: Hybrid striped bass fishing is at its peak this quarter. However, it appears that the extensive hydrilla coverage impacted the success of the fish stocked in April 2012 based on our winter 2013 observations. What this means is that most of what will be caught this year will be 1 year old fish (i.e. 8-12 inches). The hydrilla has been knocked back significantly but the 2013 treatments were not as successful as hoped. However, this winter there should be more open water for hybrids than last year so try fishing the deep holes with crappie minnows or a small domestic shiner fished at different depths on a slip-bobber rig. Concentrate on the holes where bait is marked on the depth finder. The bite is usually better when a cold front is coming in from the north with overcast skies and a little rain. The deeper areas are listed on a topographical map, which can be obtained by emailing or calling the Fish Orlando office (see contact information above).
Urban Ponds (Barnett Park Frog Pond, Bear Creek, Lake Island Park, and Santiago): The Urban Ponds (Barnett Park Frog Pond, Bear Creek, Lake Island Park, and Santiago that range between 4.5 and 7 acres): Because the URBAN PONDS are put-and-take channel catfish fisheries and channel catfish are a warm water species, this quarter can often be a bust. However, if we have an unseasonably warm winter and/or you focus your efforts in March towards the end of the quarter, some channel catfish may be caught. Try fishing chicken liver rigged on a #6 or # 8 hook around the “Baited Fishing Area” signs. Night crawlers and wigglers are a good second choice for bait.
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