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Fellsmere Freshwater Fishing Rules Update – Jun. 7, 2022

The rule changes in the Fellsmere Water Management Area include catch and release of all largemouth bass and the required use of circle hooks when fishing with natural bait greater than three inches in length.

Indian River County

Fellsmere Reservoir

Fellsmere Reservoir, also known as Headwaters Lake or Lake Egan, is a 10,000-acre manmade lake in Indian River county adjacent to Stick Marsh/Farm 13. Water levels are managed by the St. John’s River Water Management District (SJRWMD) and extensive habitat work was conducted by FWC and SJRWMD prior to flooding the lake. Numerous underwater structural features and habitat were created in hopes of providing the ideal bass fishing lake. There were already a number of existing small ponds and pits on the property prior to flooding that contained bass and other sport fish. Once the lake was flooded, nearly 1,000,000 Florida bass were stocked along with bluegill, redear sunfish, and crappie. The bass population has flourished in this habitat rich environment. There are thousands of acres of submerged vegetation, mostly hydrilla, along with thousands of acres of emergent vegetation, such as cattails and spatterdock pads. Flooded timber is present in small amounts. The average depth is approximately 6 feet deep with some areas deeper than 30 feet.

Anglers can catch and release more than 40 bass on a good day at Fellsmere, with the chance at a bass over 8 pounds. The average size bass is 1.5 to 3 pounds. With the abundance of vegetation, the most productive lures are topwater lures and weedless soft plastic jerkbaits or stickbaits.

The lake is located off Fellsmere Grade Road less than 10 miles west of Fellsmere, FL off I-95. Parking for around 44 trailers and restroom facilities are currently available. See the News Release for more information about the newly-completed boat ramp here. Note that additional parking is available 2 miles away at the Stick Marsh/Farm 13 boat ramp.

There are lots of fish to be caught in Fellsmere Reservoir this quarter, and reports of fish over 8 lbs are coming in every week. As summer water temperatures rise, fish will be moving deeper and can be caught using crankbaits, swim-baits and chatter-bait lures, target deep weed-edges near open water habitat of pits, and canals; ledges and drop offs created during habitat construction will also provide structure that fish seek out. If bass are tight-lipped, finesse techniques can be a good bet: slowly working jigs, weighted worms, and senkos to entice a bite. If you get out early, throwing top-water lures at cattails, pads, or along weed edges can also be productive.
Panfish anglers are having success as well, try jigging along the hydrilla edges of canals and ditches, woody cover, and deep cattails. Try to match the natural forage- primarily mosquitofish and grass shrimp, and keep moving if you’re having a hard time locating schooling fish. Crappie anglers may find schools in deeper water by drifting minnows or jigs early or late in the day.

A couple of regulatory reminders to anglers:
Headwaters Lake is now catch and release for Largemouth Bass, all Largemouth Bass must be released immediately. Additionally, circle hooks must be used on hook and line gear when fishing with natural baits greater than 3 inches in length. Anglers are reminded that holding bass in their live-well is illegal and places extra stress on fish, especially in warmer weather. To minimize stress, especially on larger fish, please release immediately after any photos or measurements are taken.
The Water Management District has also imposed a lake-wide 25 mph speed limit, and limits open hours from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.

Access:
Hunters must abide by the same hours as all other users, including at the old kayak launch area. No access is allowed to Fellsmere until ONE HOUR BEFORE SUNRISE.

Fish:

  • Black bass must be released immediately.
  • Circle hooks required when fishing with natural bait greater than 3” in length.

The rules have an effective date of June 7, 2022.  

Navigation:
– Boat speed shall not exceed 25 mph in all areas of the reservoir. Outside of the access canals, the reservoir contains a mixture of habitats, which combined with varying water levels create shallow water obstacles and navigation hazards.

– Boating speed limits within the boat basin, designated portions of canals, and when passing other boats will be “idle speed,” no wake. The area’s access canals are narrow with blind corners and are vulnerable to erosion from boat wakes. The reservoir is also popular with kayak and paddle-craft anglers; please use caution and be aware of low draft vessels. If fishing from a kayak, it is recommended to use an elevated flag to increase visibility.

Access

Hunters and anglers must abide by the same hours as all other users, including at the old kayak launch area. No access is allowed to Fellsmere until ONE HOUR BEFORE SUNRISE.

Fellsmere map

Fellsmere Reservoir Maps

This General Map link provides a general overview of the Fellsmere Reservoir area including the nearby Stick Marsh.

This Depth Map link provides detailed contour information for Fellsmere Reservoir. Note that you can ZOOM IN very far on this high resolution document to see a great level of detail.

NOTE: Please check the MAIN FELLSMERE FAQ AT THIS LINK first.

Additional information is provided below:

  1. Rules are posted on the SJRWMD website.
  2. What are bass regulations? /What are regs for other species?
    Black bass must be released immediately.
    Circle hooks required when fishing with natural bait greater than 3” in length.
  3. Since there is no special bass reg can we host tournaments?
    Traditional bass tournaments that allow for the temporary possession of largemouth bass are not allowed.  Only tournaments that follow a format of catch, photo, release, where bass are never possessed, may occur.  No tournament exemption permits will be issued.
  4. Can we use airboats?
    No, Recreational and Commercial Airboats are prohibited.
  5. What time does the ramp open/close (specifically when does the gate open/close)?
    The parking lot and ramp will be open from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset, please plan to be off the water and out by this time.
  6. Are there going to be closures to anglers for waterfowl season?
    No, please use caution and be respectful of others using the reservoir.
  7. Where can we duck hunt?
    Hunting is allowed in the Fellsmere Area 1 Public Small Game Hunt Area, located within FWMA, as depicted in the FWC Hunt Brochure and as shown on the Headwaters Lake Boat ramp informational Kiosk.
  8. Is the whole reservoir 25 mph or just the canal? (lots of reports of boats driving during unsafe light at high speeds or boats driving very close to other boats in the canal at high speeds)
    The speed limit is 25mph throughout the reservoir unless posted otherwise, such as idle speed in boat basin and when passing other boats. The area’s access canals are narrow with blind corners and are vulnerable to erosion from boat wakes.
  9. Are kayaks allowed to go anywhere? (some boaters were saying kayaks had to stay within so far from the ramp)
    The entire reservoir is open to both kayaks and motorized boats. Kayakers are encouraged to use the primitive launch at the Northwest corner of the reservoir and park in the Stick Marsh parking area. Please exercise caution when navigating the reservoir and be respectful to other users.
  10. Why are we not going to pave the road?
    Fellsmere Grade was recently upgraded and recapped with lime rock, and is maintained weekly by the SJRWMD.
  11. Why are there no lights at the ramp?
    The initial boat ramp design did not include many items, including lighting. As funding allows, lights may be considered.
  12. Can we include a PSA for trucks to turn their headlights off when close to the ramp for others unloading a vehicle?
    Boat ramp etiquette tips are welcomed. A PSA should also remind folks to put their passenger and back windows up once they park. We have noticed quite a few parked and left vehicles with open windows.

See this document for a summary of recent FWC work and enhancements to the Fellsmere Reservoir.

See this document for recent FWC fish stocking activities on Fellsmere Reservoir.

Popular Species

Popular Sport Fish Species

Fish graphics by Duane Raver, Jr.

More species information is available for:

Largemouth bass, Bluegill, 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 Fellsmere Reservoir:

Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 206

Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 51

Hall of Fame (13+ pounds): 1