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 Returns" 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 .
Fishhound also offers a fishing forecast for St. Johns River .
TrophyCatch is FWC's citizen-science program that rewards anglers for documenting and releasing trophy bass 8 pounds or larger. The following TrophyCatch bass have been submitted from the St. Johns River:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 79
Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 16
Water levels in the upper St. Johns River basin are extremely low going into this quarter. Many river stretches are too shallow for all but hand carry vessels, airboats, or boat equipped with mud motors. The fishing has been good if you can get to them. Largemouth bass and panfish (bluegill, redear sunfish, spotted sunfish, redbreast sunfish, and warmouth) should be concentrated in any deeper water you can find such as in river bends. Anglers should target the edges of floating vegetation along banks in middle river (Poinsett to Winder) and south of Lake Washington. It is probably very difficult to get south of Lake Winder until the rains return. North of Lake Poinsett target the deeper water in sharp bends and drop-offs near shallow bars. Due to the shallow water anglers may have to do some walking to get around/over sandbars. Use caution. 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.
The low water has de-watered much of the vegetated cover in the Lakes Washington, Winder, and Poinsett. The best fishing associated with the lakes will be at the river entrances and outlets.