Upper St. Johns River and Lakes

Upper St. Johns RiverBrevard County

This 60-mile stretch of the St. Johns River is the southernmost headwaters where the tannin-stained river originates out of the vast marshes, swamps, water management areas and canal systems.  The river flows through a number of lakes ranging from 350 to 4,500 acres in size (Lake Hell'n Blazes, Lake Sawgrass, Lake Washington, Lake Winder and Lake Poinsett).  The river is not marked for navigation, flowing within a single channel downstream to Cocoa at which point the river becomes braided into multiple channels as the river flows across the floodplain downstream to Puzzle Lake. Water levels fluctuate around six feet annually between the dry (winter-spring) and wet season (late summer-early fall). These extreme annual water level changes can radically affect the physical dimension of the river, causing a less than 150 foot wide river to expand out over the flood plain and become several miles wide, changing the navigability of the river and the distribution of the fish. Most of the upper St. Johns River and lakes are surrounded by State-owned lands which makes it a very scenic environment for all users.

The "River ReturnsExternal Website is a high definition television show about the St. Johns River that will air in October on PBS. Meanwhile their Web site provides some excellent information about the river.

For further information, listings of fish camps, or ramp locations please contact our fisheries Regional Office in Ocala at 352-732-1225 or consult the Northeast Regional Freshwater Fishing Guide.Adobe PDF

Fishhound External Website also offers a fishing forecast for St. Johns River External Website.

Current Forecast:

Water levels in the upper St. Johns River basin are generally their lowest this time of the year but abnormally higher rainfall this winter has levels higher to start this quarter.  Expect good fishing success in the river sections between Lakes Winder and Poinsett (Middle River), Washington to Helen Blazes, and from SR 520 to Puzzle Lake.  Shallow draft or smaller boats typically have an easier time navigating sand bars and secondary channels in the river than their larger counterparts this time of the year.  Largemouth bass and panfish (bluegill, redear sunfish, spotted sunfish, redbreast sunfish, and warmouth) should be concentrated throughout the deeper portions of the river.  Anglers should target the edges of floating vegetation along banks, sharp bends and drop-offs near shallow bars. As water levels drop, forcing bait fish and grass shrimp out of the marshes, canals and slough, angler can expect to find both bass and panfish feeding on the surface. Traditional methods for taking all species will work.  Many bass anglers who fish this area prefer to swim plastic worms and jerk baits or twitch shallow-running minnow imitations for bass.  Fly-fishing with a surface popper is another rewarding way to catch both bass and panfish in these sections of the river.  Lake Washington will be the best choice for those anglers with larger boats because the lake is impounded for the city of Melbourne’s water supply and typically has the deepest water. Lakes Poinsett and Winder should also fish well for both bass and panfish during the first half of the quarter if the water level goes down slowly. Anglers should focus their efforts around the deeper offshore bulrushes patches, coves and where canals connect to the lakes.


FWC Facts:
Alligator gar grow up to 10 feet long and 350 pounds. Their head looks very much like an alligator's.

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