Located five miles northeast of Lake Placid, Highlands County, this 27,692-acre lake has quality fishing for black crappie (specks) and one of the highest largemouth bass catch rates in the state. The best speck fishing occurs during winter months drifting over open water, particularly in the northeast and southwest corners. Predominant aquatic vegetation includes spadderdock (bonnets), bulrush (buggy whips), cattail, and pondweed (pepper grass). Kissimmee grass on the south end is particularly productive when there is flow into the Istokpoga Canal. This canal, located off County Highway 621, provides excellent largemouth bass fishing from the bank when the gates are open. Arbuckle and Josephine Creek mouths are also good areas when there is flow. The island areas and associated grass can hold bass any time of year and the deepest portion of the lake (10 ft) is in the southwest corner. Public boat ramps are located on the north, northeast, and southwest shorelines off of U.S. Route 98, Lake Boulevard off Cow House Road, and Highland Lake Drive off of County Route 621, respectively. There are also six fish camps/resorts on the lake with various accommodations. Anglers can wade fish off of the Cow House Road boat ramp.
For more information contact Henderson's Fish Camp at 863/465-2101, or Cypress Isle RV Park & Marina at 863-465-5241.
Special Regulations for Largemouth Bass on Lake Istokpoga. A slot limit protects quality largemouth bass by requiring that all bass between 15 and 24 inches in length must be immediately released back into the lake. The daily bag limit is three fish per day. Only one of the three fish may be greater than 24 inches. This means you may keep three bass less than 15 inches, or two bass less than 15 inches and one bass greater than 24 inches. For more information on the special regulations or tournament exemptions, contact Bill Pouder at (863)648-3200.
Fishhound also offers a fishing forecast for Lake Istokpoga .
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 Lake Istokpoga:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 203
Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 49
Largemouth bass fishing has been good this spring, and should continue as the water temperatures continue to rise. Lake Istokpoga is one of the best lakes in the state at having a chance to get your hands on a fish of a lifetime! There has been nearly 300 TrophyCatch submissions of bass larger than 8 pounds since the program started in October 2012. Remember, as part of the TrophyCatch program, all these big bass have been released, so your trophy still swims in Lake Istokpoga. Live wild shiners are working about as well as artificial lures are right now. Slow working baits like plastic worms have been the bait of choice in Junebug and red shad colors. Bass should be finished spawning by the end of April and will begin schooling up, chasing threadfin and gizzard shad along weed lines and open water areas. Use shad-imitating baits and topwater lures for some fast action as summer approaches. Bluegill (bream) and redear sunfish (shellcracker) fishing has improved, with fish congregating in their usual spawning areas. Use crickets and grass shrimp under a cork for bream and red wigglers on or near the bottom for shellcrackers. Locate areas with bulrush, Kissimmee grass, or cattails for the best action. Black crappie (specks) fishing should remain good until the water temperature warms dramatically. Drift live Missouri minnows and grass shrimp in open water, or troll with Napier deer hair jigs and Hal flies for schooling fish. Trophy bass have been tagged on the lake so keep an eye out! Tags are yellow and located on the back (dorsal) of the fish. If you catch a tagged fish, remember to remove the tag. You will need it to collect your reward!