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
Largemouth Bass fishing has been on fire at Orange Lake this past year and will continue to be the place to go in North Central Florida to tighten up a line and hope for that big one. Catches of over 20 bass a day, winning tournament weights of over 30 pounds, and numerous trophy catches of bass weighing over 10 pounds were regularly reported for the past year. We expect to continue to see lots of trophy sized bass being caught and impressive winning tournament weights this spring. Topwater plugs and soft plastics are the bait of choice for many bass anglers fishing Orange Lake. Black Crappie offered some great fishing the past few years and spring 2023 should be no exception. Try drifting or trolling with minnows, jigs, and grass shrimp in open water and move up to the shoreline vegetation as the water temperatures start to warm and the fish move in to spawn. There was a lot more Hydrilla this past year, but there is still a lot of open water you can target when spider rigging or trolling. The bream bite should pick up by March with good numbers of big fish ready to tighten a line. Try using crickets and grass shrimp to catch bream up close to the grass and in the pads.
FWC and other management authorities have regular meetings to seek stakeholder input on future lake habitat management strategies.
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): 76
Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 54
Hall of Fame (13+ pounds): 9