(Santa Rosa County):
Bear Lake is a 107-acre man-made impoundment constructed in 1959, opened to fishing in 1961, and designated as a Fish Management Area. The lake has an average depth of 8 feet with a maximum depth of 23 feet. Deepest areas are located near the dam and along the old streambed. A considerable amount of flooded timber remains, providing fish habitat. This lake has been stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish (shellcracker), black crappie, hybrid striped bass, and channel catfish. Bear Lake is located in northeast Santa Rosa County with in the Blackwater State Forest, approximately 2 miles east of Munson, FL on SR 4. A dual-launch concrete boat ramp is located within the Bear Lake Campground. Ample parking, a handicapped accessible fishing pier, and an informational kiosk are located near this ramp. The Florida Forest Service maintains the campground, which includes bath/restroom facilities, along with camping and picnic areas. The Florida Forest Service charges a $2.00/car fee to all persons entering the Bear Lake Campground area. Two primitive dirt boat landings are accessible from Hurricane Lake Rd. and are not currently subject to this fee. A limited number of small jon-boats and canoes are available to rent from DOF for use on the lake. Information regarding these rentals can be obtained by calling 850-957-6140. Bear Lake is subject to the rules and regulations currently in effect for Fish Management Areas. Please refer to a current copy of Florida Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations. Gasoline boat motors are prohibited from use on Bear Lake; however, use of electric trolling motors is allowed.
For additional information regarding fishing opportunities at Bear Lake contact Blackwater Fisheries Center in Holt, Fl. Phone 850-957-6175.
See also our Fish Management Area Brochure and Map for Bear Lake.
Crappie fishing should continue to be productive until water temperatures rise into the 70’s and above and the fish move back into deeper water. Night fishing can be productive during the warmer months. Many successful anglers will hang a light over the boat to attract baitfish to the area, which in turn will attract crappie. Small feather or curly-tailed jigs or small “crappie” minnows are usually the most productive baits.
Largemouth bass anglers should continue to be successful throughout the quarter. Bass will move from shallower habitat used during the spawn into waters 6 ft. and deeper as temperatures rise later in the quarter. Brush piles located throughout the lake and marked by buoys often hold bass and can be productive. Rising water temperatures may alter normal bass patterns, especially rapid rises following heavy rainfall. As water temperatures move into the upper 70’s and higher, anglers fishing during dawn and dusk can often catch fish moving into shallow water to feed. Plastic worms and lizards rigged Carolina or Texas style, along with Rat-L-Traps and crank baits can all be effective. Top-water lures can be effective if anglers locate bass actively feeding along the surface. The largemouth bass population consists of a large number of quality-sized fish (2 pounds and above).
Hybrid striped bass should continue to bite well until water temperatures heat up towards the end of the quarter. Hybrids can often be found feeding in the shallows at dawn and dusk. Baits resembling shad are often the most productive. Hybrids are usually found in deeper open-water areas. As water temperatures move into the upper 70’s and above hybrid feeding activity is usually limited to the early morning and evening hours.
Redear sunfish (shellcracker) spawning will be at its peak as water temperatures reach 68 to 72 degrees. During most years anglers can expect this to occur in late-March or April. Shellcracker tend to nest in “communities”, meaning there will often be numerous nests built in the same area. Peak bluegill spawning activity occurs when water temperatures reach 75 to 80 degrees, which is during May of most years. Bluegill will often use the same nesting areas previously used by shellcracker and also tend to nest in “communities”. Spawning activity will continue to a lesser degree through September. Light tackle with earthworms, wigglers, or crickets is usually the most productive. Oyster shell and gravel bed areas located in several areas around the lake are popular spawning sites for both bluegill and shellcracker. Brush piles and areas surrounding several fish feeders located throughout the lake can often be productive areas to fish.
Catfish are normally most active at dawn and in the evening, with chicken livers and earthworms both being effective baits. As water temperatures warm considerably during May and June catfish tend to feed more actively.