This 5850-acre lake has a "little" northern area and a "big" southern arm connected by "the pass" where shad school and fishing is usually good for schooling largemouth and stocked sunshine bass. Numerous homes surround the lake, most with docks and ski boats; fishing is always best early and late or at night and on weekdays. In spite of development, the fish habitat is outstanding with many areas of cypress and healthy maidencane grass beds.
Local contact: Chappini's Bait & Tackle 352-475-9496.
Bald Eagle Bait and Tackle 352-473-6060.
Bluegill and redear can be found around docks and cypress trees scattered around the lake. These fish should continue to spawn throughout the summer. Target them using crickets, earthworms, and grass shrimp. As with Lake Sampson, give a light-weight flyrod a try for these aggressive bream. Crappie should be back in open water, and can be targeted by trolling jigs, small crankbaits, or using minnows over known bottom structure or brush piles. Bass should be finished spawning by now, but anglers can still find some in near-shore maidencane beds, in the shade under docks, and around cypress trees. Soft plastics flipped, pitched, or dragged near structure or around holes in the vegetation should draw strikes. Anglers looking to target larger bass should consider slow-trolling live golden shiners along near-shore grasslines or using jigging spoons in open water. As with Lake Sampson, keep an eye open for roving schools of feeding sunshine bass offshore. Look for birds diving or surface commotion to find these feeding fish. Approach these feeding schools with stealth, and you should be able to catch multiple fish before the action stops. Effective lures include anything shiny, white, or minnow-shaped. Be prepared for either schooling largemouth bass or sunshine bass, as they can both display the same feeding behavior offshore.
With water temperatures heating up, please handle any fish you plan to release with extra care. Warm water holds less oxygen and puts extra stress on fish. If you plan to fish bass tournaments, there are several things you can do to increase the fish’s chance of survival and ensure that it swims away to be caught another day. Minimize handling of the fish and the time that the fish is out of water. Keep your livewell aerated and cool (by adding ice), and change the water at regular intervals. Chemical livewell additives that contain calming agents and water quality enhancers can also be used. Try focusing your fishing efforts during the cooler morning and evening hours and avoid the heat of the day. Not only will you be more comfortable yourself, the fish are more likely to be active during those times as well. Don’t forget to register online with FWC’s TrophyCatch program and enter your trophy bass for a chance to win prizes and help provide FWC biologists with valuable information. Finally, information on FWC’s proposed statewide largemouth bass rule change can be found at (http://www.myfwc.com/fishing/freshwater/black-bass/bass-regulations/).