Orange Lake is the largest lake in the North Central Region at 12,550 acres. It is designated as a Fish Management Area and is located about 20 miles southeast of Gainesville. Orange Lake averages 5.5 feet deep with a maximum depth of 12 feet. Water levels fluctuate an average of 2 feet, annually. Outflow is controlled by a fixed-crest weir located at Highway 301 (southeast portion of lake). Orange Lake receives inflow from Newnans Lake through River Styx and from Lochloosa Lake through Cross Creek. Cross Creek (1.8 miles) is navigable to most boats during normal water levels.
Orange lake has an extensive aquatic vegetation community, dominated by spatterdock (lily pads) and periodically hydrilla. Shallow marsh areas are inaccessible to anglers due to the dense growth of vegetation. Bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie and largemouth bass are generally caught in the deeper spatterdock, emergent grasses and hydrilla.
Marion County and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission allocated funds to establish a fishing pier at Heagy-Burry Park (southwestern part of the lake). The pier is handicap-accessible. A fish attractor is located near the pier, which provides for good fishing.
For more information on FWC management activities at Orange Lake, visit the Orange Creek Basin Working Group webpage.
Shore and Pier Fishing Opportunities/Boat Ramp Locations:
Orange Lake Public Fishing Pier: 5005 Lake Ave, Citra, FL, 32113 (At Heagey-Burry Boat Ramp)
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park/Kate Barnes Boat Ramp: 18700 County Road 325, Cross Creek, FL 32640
The Black Crappie bite on Orange Lake was already on fire by the end of summer, and anglers took advantage of the good water levels and open boat ramps to access their favorite fishing holes and fill up coolers. As the cooler months arrive, Black Crappie fishing should just get better and we expect there to be another top notch Black Crappie fishery for the fifth year in a row. If you are able to get to the open water in the middle of the lake, try drifting or trolling with minnows, grass shrimp, and jigs. There is a lot of Hydrilla out there right now, so you may also want to try anchoring up near a thick patch and see what you can catch. Orange Lake is well known for bass fishing and while the spring is usually the best time to go, there is no bad time of the year to fish for bass at this premier fishery. You shouldn’t have any problem finding Hydrilla to pull a frog over. If you are looking to fish the pads, they are starting to come in pretty good on the south side of the lake.
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 Orange Lake:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 54
Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 28
Hall of Fame (13+ pounds): 7