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.
The FWC installed six large gravel beds (individually covering approximately 625 ft2) in spring 2019. These areas should congregate bass and provide valuable spawning habitat for bream. During this quarter, properly identifying local spawning behavior and how fish are reacting to the water temperature regime will likely determine how successful the fishing trips turnout. April through June brings increasing water temperatures to Bear Lake. Largemouth bass fishers should continue to be successful throughout the quarter. Bass will move from shallower habitat used during spawning activities into waters five feet and deeper as temperatures rise later in the quarter. As water temperatures move into the upper 70’s and higher, anglers fishing during dawn and dusk can often catch fish moving into shallow water to feed. Plastic worms and lizards rigged Carolina- or Texas-style, along with Rat-L-Traps and crankbaits can all be effective. If bass are actively feeding along the surface, these fish should be targeted with noisy topwater baits (e.g., buzzbaits & jerkbaits) during low light conditions or with soft-plastic baits when the Florida sun is burning bright.
As the water temperature ranges from 68 to 80 degrees, the bream should begin to gather on beds throughout the lake. During most years, anglers can expect this to begin in late-March and last through September. Redear Sunfish (shellcracker) tend to nest in “communities,” meaning there will often be numerous nests built in the same area. Bluegill will often use the same nesting areas previously used by shellcracker and also tend to nest in “communities.” Light tackle with earthworms, crickets, beetle spins, rooster tails, or small jigs can produce nice Redear Sunfish and Bluegill.
Black crappie fishing should continue to be productive until the water temperature rises into the 70’s and above. The fish will move out of shallow water and, generally, congregate around any hard structure in deeper water to escape the summer heat. During this quarter, night fishing can be productive. Many successful anglers will hang a light over the boat to attract baitfish to the area, which in turn will attract crappie. Small feather or curly-tailed crappie jigs and small minnows are usually the most productive baits. However, if crappie jigs or live minnows are not inducing bites, try crankbaits and spinnerbaits.
As always, catfish are normally most active at dawn and in the evening. Catfish are hard-pressed to resist a juicy beef or chicken liver. If the bait continues to fall off of the hook, try wrapping it in surgical gauze or pantyhose and stretch the fabric to release the odor from the bait. If the weeds are a nuisance, then try rigging a small bobber in between the weight and the hook to keep the bait suspended above any vegetation.
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