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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.

Water Levels are available.

Cooling temperatures throughout the quarter should really heat up the bite in Headwaters Lake. Reports of anglers catching fish over 8lbs and double digit bass are reported regularly! Topwater lures (fished early and late in the day), crankbaits, and senkos are some of the top artificial baits here. Live golden shiners are a staple for anglers targeting big bass as well, please note circle hooks are required when using natural baits over 3” in length. Fishing open water canals and pits adjacent to thick submersed vegetation or cattails are reliable ways to find fish, ledges and drop offs created during habitat construction will also provide structure that hold fish. Punching mats is also a favorite technique to find bass hiding under thick-topped out vegetation. Panfish anglers should be able to find bluegill and redear sunfish in the emergent vegetation and sticks near shorelines, internal levees and islands. Crappie anglers may find suspended schools by drifting minnows or jigs in the deeper pits or ledges and drop-offs in open water areas. Another strategy for success is jigging along the hydrilla edges of canals and ditches, keep moving if you’re having a hard time finding them!

Reminder-Largemouth bass must be released immediately, and circle hooks must be used with natural bait bigger than 3” in length.

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.


  • 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.  

– 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.


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.


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): 292

Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 66

Hall of Fame (13+ pounds): 1