Santa Rosa County
Bear Lake is a 107-acre man-made impoundment constructed in 1959, opened to fishing in 1961, and designated as a Fish Management Area. The lake has an average depth of 8 feet with a maximum depth of 23 feet. Deepest areas are located near the dam and along the old streambed. A considerable amount of flooded timber remains, providing fish habitat. This lake has been stocked with Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Redear Sunfish (shellcracker), Black Crappie, Hybrid Striped Bass, and Channel Catfish. Bear Lake is located in northeast Santa Rosa County with in the Blackwater State Forest, approximately 2 miles east of Munson, FL on SR 4. A dual-launch concrete boat ramp is located within the Bear Lake Campground. Ample parking, a handicapped accessible fishing pier, and an informational kiosk are located near this ramp. The Florida Forest Service maintains the campground, which includes bath/restroom facilities, along with camping and picnic areas. The Florida Forest Service charges a $2.00/car fee to all persons entering the Bear Lake Campground area. Two primitive dirt boat landings are accessible from Hurricane Lake Rd. and are not currently subject to this fee. A limited number of small jon-boats and canoes are available to rent from DOF for use on the lake. Information regarding these rentals can be obtained by calling 850-957-6140. Bear Lake is subject to the rules and regulations currently in effect for Fish Management Areas. Please refer to a current copy of Florida Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations. Gasoline boat motors are prohibited from use on Bear Lake; however, use of electric trolling motors is allowed.
For additional information regarding fishing opportunities at Bear Lake contact Blackwater Fisheries Center in Holt, Fl. Phone 850-957-6175.
For reserving campsites and cabins in Florida State Parks check the Reserve America website or call 888-622-9190.
As the days begin to shorten and temperatures drop, anglers tend to stow their tackle away. What many people don’t realize is that these mild temperatures offer excellent fishing opportunities. While you may not catch as many bass, fall and winter largemouth bass fishing will often produce the largest fish of the year. As water temperatures begin to cool, look for bass to seek warmer water. Monitor surface temperatures and try to fish the warmest water you can find. On clear bright days, sunlight can greatly affect these surface temperatures stimulating bait fish and predators alike. Midday will often be the most productive time on days like this. A good place to target these fish is in deep water or along the earthen dam, they will often suspend along steep drop-offs in about 6-7 ft of water. Standing timber, brush piles, or any form of hard structure will also congregate fish this time of year. With the change in seasons, largemouth bass diets will change as well. Try to use baits that mimic sunfish, shad, or other baitfish. Suspending crank baits, rat-l-traps, or spinner baits fished with a slow retrieve could produce a trophy.
During fall to winter months crappie patterns are almost a reverse of the spring to summer patterns. They will start out in deeper water, but as the water cools, they migrate to shallow areas. In early fall, look for creek channels, ledges, humps, or standing timber in deep water. As temperatures cool from late fall to winter, start looking for this structure in shallower areas similar to what you would target in early spring. During the fall to winter months, larger baits can often be most effective. Try fishing jigs with a 2 3/8-inch body on a quarter-ounce jig head and don’t be afraid to switch up the color until you find what is working. Small crank baits and rat-l-traps can also be very effective for these fish, but it is always hard to beat live bait such as minnows or shiners.
Bluegill and redear sunfish may not be on their bed spawning this time of year, but that doesn’t mean nice hauls of these tasty fish can’t still be had. Try fishing on or near the bottom in deeper water with crickets or wigglers. Use light tackle, 4-6 lb-test fishing line with small hooks. You can fasten several split-shot weights about 2-3 ft above the hook to keep your bait on the bottom. Channel catfish can be targeted on the bottom in deeper water as well and will be hard pressed to resist a juicy beef or chicken liver. If you have trouble keeping these on the hook, try wrapping it in surgical gauze or pantyhose, but make sure you stretch the fabric to allow a nice odor to emanate from your bait.
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 Bear Lake!
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 4
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 2