Orange Lake is the largest lake in the North Central Region at 12,550 acres. It is designated as a Fish Management Area and is located about 20 miles southeast of Gainesville. Orange Lake averages 5.5 feet deep with a maximum depth of 12 feet. Water levels fluctuate an average of 2 feet, annually. Outflow is controlled by a fixed-crest weir located at Highway 301 (southeast portion of lake). Orange Lake receives inflow from Newnans Lake through River Styx and from Lochloosa Lake through Cross Creek. Cross Creek (1.8 miles) is navigable to most boats during normal water levels.
Orange lake has an extensive aquatic vegetation community, dominated by spatterdock (lily pads) and periodically hydrilla. Shallow marsh areas are inaccessible to anglers due to the dense growth of vegetation. Bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie and largemouth bass are generally caught in the deeper spatterdock, emergent grasses and hydrilla.
Marion County and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission allocated funds to establish a fishing pier at Heagy-Burry Park (southwestern part of the lake). The pier is handicap-accessible. A fish attractor is located near the pier, which provides for good fishing.
For updated information please call:
South Shore Fish Camp 352-595-4241
Sportsman Cove Fish Camp 352-591-1435
The water level on Orange Lake remains low but the lake is still accessible through the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings boat ramp. The dense vegetation in the boat ramp canal was removed, but still occupies the majority of the lake. Trails through the vegetation that were historically maintained at the Heagy-Burry boat ramp will not be upheld due to the constant maintenance control of floating islands that block passage through the trails and access to the ramp. Anglers should be mindful of shifting floating islands while on the lake, particularly during windy days. Recent fish surveys revealed depressed fish populations, particularly in largemouth bass. But black crappie and bream appear abundant and ready to take your bait. More thorough surveys will be conducted to determine the management actions needed in Orange Lake once normal water levels return.