The “Forecast” tab provides a general quarterly fishing forecast for the Fish Orlando program. For even more up-to-date information, we suggest you call or visit a local bait-and-tackle shop or guide service. At times we will provide information for some local contacts, which indicated they were willing to be listed herein.
Fish Orlando’s mission is to create, conserve and promote convenient quality fishing opportunities in the great Orlando area. Initiated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in 1988, the program is supported by the City of Orlando, City of Ocoee, City of Winter Park, City of St. Cloud, City of Winter Springs, Orange County, BASS PRO SHOPS Orlando, and a variety of other businesses and volunteer/civic groups.
For a listing of directions and tips for public fishing opportunities in Orange County, call 352-732-1225 or email: fishorlando@MyFWC.com for a free Fish Orlando Fishing Map.
A calendar of Fish Orlando Area Events is available.
See the "Regulations" tab for rules. For a complete listing of regulations please see the Freshwater Fishing Regulations page.
Fish Orlando! “We’re bringing quality fishing to families.”
The Fish Orlando BIG WATER BODIES (Butler Chain, Conway Chain, Johns Lake, and Winter Park Chain):
These are the primary months that bass spawn in Central Florida. In the clear waters of these BIG WATERBODIES, look for bass beds in the shallows, adjacent to deeper water that is protected by the wind. We have seen bass spawn as deep as 12-15 feet, as the clear water allows for the sun to penetrate these deeper beds. Once you find the males on beds, the bigger females will be close by. Top water plugs, jerk baits, swim baits, spinnerbaits and swim jigs (including bladed swim jigs) work good on overcast days or at dawn and dusk. It helps if there is some wind as well. For times when the bass are not as active, switch to a fluke, finesse worm, wacky rig or drop shot rig. Don’t forget to use lighter fluorocarbon or monofilament lines (8lb – 12lb test). Slow trolling a shiner on the drop-offs next to the bass beds can often result in a TrophyCatch bass (8lbs plus) on the Butler Chain and Johns Lake.
The Fish Orlando FAB FIVE water bodies:
Starke Lake: The once prevalent submersed vegetation that was eradicated by the winter 2012 hydrilla treatment has just about recovered completely. Since then problems with too much algae have kept the bass fishing from recovering to historic levels, however, the latest winter 2019 bass survey showed improvement of the bass population over the entire lake. The largemouth bass should be moving into the grass areas to spawn. Try flipping soft plastic craws inside areas that have cattails (tall flat stemmed grasses that can grow 6 feet or higher). Also try casting u-vibe speed worms Texas-rigged on 1/8 oz weights in the pads and grass. A lipless or shallow running crankbait fished so that it hits the tops of the submerged vegetation is a good method to check for active fish. If lipless crankbaits don’t work, switch to flukes, Carolina-rigged plastic baits, or wacky rigged worms.
Turkey Lake: Like Starke Lake, largemouth bass should be in spawning mode. Topwaters or soft plastic jerk baits cast back into the emergent grass pockets are usually productive. If bites do not come with an active retrieve, try “dead sticking” i.e. leaving the lure sit motionless for a minute or two at a time. A Seinko rigged weedless is also another good lure to try if the bite is slow. The area where the two lobes of the lake come together in a bottleneck is often a good spot. If a cold front sweeps through, fishing can be tough, but occasionally probing the dredge areas in the lake using crankbaits and Carolina-rigged plastic worms can save a trip. The dredge areas are listed on a topographical map, which can be obtained by emailing or calling the Fish Orlando office (see contact information above).
Black crappie (Speck) fishing is usually good this quarter and minnows is one of the best ways to catch these good eating fish. Try drifting and/or trolling minnows or jig/minnow combinations at different depths and speeds in the south lobe of the lake, or in the north lobe straight out from the fixed fishing pier towards the boat concession area.
Due to deed restrictions there is no public boat access on Turkey Lake, but the FWC, the City of Orlando and Bass Pro Shops Orlando have teamed together to provide a Boat Loaner Program where four boats can be rented for only $32 each (7 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.; Thurs - Sun). Call the City of Orlando’s Bill Frederick Park at 407-299-5581 to reserve a boat. A few close places to purchase crappie minnows are Palmer Feed Store in downtown Orlando (407-841-8924), Get Hooked Bait and Tackle in Ocoee (407-347-3072) or Ace Hardware in Winter Garden (407-656-2593).
Lake Underhill: There are plans to treat some of the hydrilla in winter 2020, especially in the north lobe where it has been growing as deep as 18 feet. Thanks to conservative vegetation management, there still should be plenty of hydrilla to fish in the lake. Try a fluke, seinko or wacky rigged bait on the inside edges of the hydrilla. You can also try flipping both the shoreline and lakeward edges of the topped out vegetation around these dredge holes when the sun is high. If the shallow bite is not on, use your depth finder to find where the deeper open water hydrilla fades to a clean bottom i.e. a breakline. Try crankbaits, Carolina-rigs and a drop shot rig with a small 4” straight-tail worm along this deep breakline. When they are active try spinnerbaits and hard jerk baits.
Ivanhoe: With the majority of bass in spawn mode, fishing should begin to be productive up close to the bank. Try the edges of the submersed vegetation with finesse plastic worms or soft jerk baits. If this is unproductive try fishing around the emergent vegetation (i.e. pads, bulrush and cattails). If the fish are not active try rigging the baits “wacky” style or fishing them in a dead stick manner.
Clear Lake: Hybrid striped bass fishing is at its peak this quarter. Both 1+ and 2+ year old hybrids should be available for the winter fishery, and if it’s anything like last year, the fishing will be very good. Try fishing the deep holes with crappie minnows or a small domestic shiner fished at different depths. Concentrate on the holes where bait is marked on the depth finder. The bite is usually better when a cold front is coming in from the north with overcast skies and a little rain. The deeper areas are listed on a topographical map, which can be obtained by emailing or calling the Fish Orlando office (see contact information above). Minnows can be purchased at Palmer Feed Store which is located just a few minutes from the lake (407-841-8924).
Urban Ponds (Barnett Park Frog Pond, Bear Creek, Lake Island Park, and Santiago): The channel catfishing in this quarter is usually a bust because migrating cormorants have eaten the catfish stocked in the fall. However, thanks to a proposed December 2019 stocking of grow out largemouth bass for Barnett, Bear Creek and MLK Jr Park, there should be an abundance of 8 inch – 12 inch largemouth bass in January and February. Try a small 1/32 oz twister tail jig, or a night crawler with a small split shot. Santiago has not been impacted by cormorants the last few years, so if the weather warms during this quarter try for catfish using chicken liver rigged on a #6 or # 8 hook around the “Baited Fishing Area” signs.
For the latest freshwater fishing rules please see the Freshwater Fishing Regulations page.
Statewide bag and length limits (if no other regulations apply): No person shall take in any one day more than the following bag limits of freshwater game fish:
- 5 largemouth bass, only one of which may be 16 inches or longer in total length. There is no minimum length limit for largemouth bass.
- 50 Panfish (no minimum length) including bluegill, redear sunfish (shellcracker), spotted sunfish (stumpknocker), warmouth and redbreast sunfish, individually or in total.
- 25 Crappie (also call speckled perch or “speck”; no minimum length).
- 20 Striped bass and sunshine bass (individually or in total), of which only 6 may be 24 inches or longer in total length.
BIG WATER BODIES (Butler Chain, Conway Chain, Johns Lake, Winter Park Chain):
Statewide regulations apply.
The FAB FIVE:
Clear Lake: Statewide regulations except possession of cast nets are prohibited. For convenience, all the regulations have been posted in informational kiosks at two locations (George Barker Park boat ramp and Clear Lake Park).
Lake Ivanhoe: Statewide regulations except panfish bag limit of 20 and possession of cast nets is prohibited. For convenience, all the regulations have been posted in an informational kiosk at Gaston-Edwards Park boat ramp.
Starke Lake: Statewide regulations except panfish bag limit of 20 and possession of cast nets is prohibited. For convenience, all the regulations have been posted in informational kiosks at the city of Ocoee boat ramp and at the fishing pier.
Turkey Lake: Statewide regulations except catch-and-release for largemouth bass, panfish bag limit of 20, channel catfish bag limit of 6, possession of cast nets is prohibited. Except for sanctioned events, gasoline motors may not be used on boats. For convenience, lake regulations have been posted in informational kiosks at three locations (boat concession, fixed fishing pier and primitive camping area).
Lake Underhill: Statewide regulations except catch-and-release for largemouth bass, panfish bag limit of 20, channel catfish bag limit of 6, possession of cast nets is prohibited. For convenience, lake regulations have been posted in an informational kiosk at the boat ramp.
Barnett Park Frog Pond: Statewide regulations. For convenience, these have been posted in an informational kiosk at the pond.
Bear Creek Park Pond: Statewide regulations except panfish bag limit of 20, channel catfish bag limit of 6, possession of cast nets is prohibited. For convenience, lake regulations have been posted in an informational kiosk at the pond.
Lake Island (MLK Jr. Park): Statewide regulations. For convenience, lake regulations have been posted in an informational kiosk at the pond.
Lake Santiago: Statewide regulations except panfish bag limit of 20, channel catfish bag limit of 6, possession of cast nets is prohibited, and boats are prohibited. For convenience, lake regulations have been posted in an informational kiosk at the pond.
OTHER WATER BODIES:
Lake Baldwin (225 acres): Statewide fisheries regulations but boats with motors have to abide by a “no wake” restriction.
Lake Fairview (401 acres): Statewide regulations apply.
Hal Scott Preserve (approx. 30 acres): Largemouth bass catch-and-release. Panfish bag limit of 20. Channel catfish bag limit of 6. Cast nets are prohibited. Gasoline motors may not be used on boats.
Little Econlockhatchee River: Statewide regulations apply.
Secret Lake: Panfish bag limit of 20. Channel catfish bag limit of 6. Cast nets are prohibited. Personal watercraft are prohibited.
Shadow Bay Park: Channel catfish 30 inch minimum size limit (1 fish bag limit). Largemouth bass catch and release, bluegill 12 inch minimum size (5 fish bag limit).
"Fish Orlando!" iPhone App
This app will give you key information about the "Fish Orlando!" sites, where they are, their amenities, what the target species are at each location, and even a map to show you the way. More information is available at the iTunes store or by searching "Fish Orlando" in the App Store on your iPhone.
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 Fish Orlando sites:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 39
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 35