Ocala National Forest Lakes
Lakes & Marion counties
There are approximately 600 natural lakes in the Ocala National Forest with lakes Bryant, Mill Dam, Kerr, Crooked, Wildcat, Lou Echo, Grasshopper, Eaton and Quarry Fish Pond being the most popular. A booklet titles "Fishing Opportunities in the Ocala National Forest" by the Ocala National Forest Interpretive Association is available at the Visitors Welcome Center at the intersection of S.R. 40 and C.R. 315. This booklet describes sport fishing locations, with recommendations for fishing methods and accessibility, as well as a topographic map.
Note: Lake Wildcat has a special regulation requiring all largemouth bass to be released immediately.
The lake level on Lake Bryant is high, so much of the vegetation is accessible. Also, the two brush attractors (marked by yellow buoys) have recently been refurbished with “Mossback” fish attractors. These are non-toxic, plastic attractors that will resemble small triangular trees on your depth finder. Some fat Hybrid Striped Bass have been caught in open water using live minnows and shiners. FWC biologists began restocking Hybrid Striped Bass again in Lake Bryant. Lake Kerr can also produce panfish by fishing in the open water where the water depth drops. Fish on the shallow side of the drop on the bottom for panfish. Bass fishing in the forest remains good throughout the summer. Live baits always work well. Shiners free-lined near weed lines can be effective, as can live worms. Soft jerk baits rigged weed-less are also promising. Casting such lures into the weed line, then walking the lure on the surface to about 5 feet from the weed line, then letting it slowly sink to the bottom. Spinnerbaits can also be effective on cloudy days. Night fishing in some of the larger forest lakes (Bryant, Wildcat, and Grasshopper) works well. Fishing with Shiners tends to produce the best results. Try fishing on full moon nights to make watching your bait easier. Newly refurbished fish attractors have also been deployed to Halfmoon Lake and Lake Dias.
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 the various Ocala National Forest Lakes:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 48
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 17
Hall of Fame Club (13+ pounds): 2