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Alachua County

Orange Lake

NOTE: County closures of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and Heagy-Burry boat ramps are planned this fall to conduct boat ramp/infrastructure improvements.

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

For updated information please call:
South Shore Fish Camp 352-595-4241
Sportsman Cove Fish Camp 352-591-1435

Orange Lake water levels were in good condition early this year with abundant rainfall. There is plenty of water to launch at any boat ramp and access one of the best fisheries Florida has to offer. Pads have continued to spread throughout the lake, and they are looking especially good around Grassy Point and the southern part of the lake and that’s great news for all anglers! Hydrilla coverage had expanded to almost 60% of the lake in the fall and dropped back over the winter. Warmer temperatures will likely increase coverage. Although it has made access tougher, the Hydrilla is providing great habitat for fish throughout the lake. FWC spring electrofishing samples have revealed strong year-classes of Largemouth Bass each year since 2020 that rival the cohorts documented prior to the lake dewatering over a decade ago! Those 2020 fish are up to over 3-4 lbs and have already produced a lot of fun, high number fishing days! One thing Orange Lake is known for is big bass and there are lots of trophy fish just waiting to cause a commotion. There have already been 18 bass over 8 pounds approved by FWCs TrophyCatch Program in Season 12, which began October 1, 2023. Topwater plugs and soft plastics are the bait of choice for many bass anglers fishing Orange Lake. Anglers should be aware that the Orange Lake Largemouth Bass regulations will change in April 2024 as part of the Florida Trophy Bass Project (see link for details and check the bass regulation signs at the ramp). The Black Crappie bite on Orange has not been impressive this year, with most anglers preferring nearby Lochloosa or Newnans lakes to get their limits. There are lots of big panfish waiting to get on a hook for the summer and the past few years have been excellent. As the water gets warm, try moving in shore near vegetation where bream will be gathering up to spawn. They should devour a grass shrimp or a cricket under a cork.

For more information on FWC management activities at Orange Lake, visit the Orange Creek Basin Working Group webpage.

Popular Species

Popular Sport Fish Species

Fish graphics by Duane Raver, Jr.

More species information is available for:

Largemouth bassBluegill, Redear sunfishBlack crappie

FWC Trophy Catch Logo

TrophyCatch Tracker

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): 116

Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 86

Hall of Fame (13+ pounds): 14