Karick Lake is a 65-acre man-made impoundment constructed in 1965, opened to fishing in 1966, and is designated as a Fish Management Area. The lake has an average depth of 7 feet with a maximum depth of 18 feet, with the deepest areas located near the dam and along the old streambed. A considerable amount of flooded timber remains, providing fish habitat. The lake has been stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish (shellcracker), and channel catfish. Karick Lake is located in northwestern Okaloosa County off County Road 189 approximately 8 miles north of Baker, FL. Concrete boat ramps with courtesy docks are located in both the north and south campgrounds. A handicapped accessible fishing pier is located adjacent to the boat ramp in the north campground. Both campgrounds are accessible from CR 189. Informational kiosks are located adjacent to each boat ramp. The south campground contains primitive campsites (no electrical or water hookups) and picnic areas. The north campground has picnic grounds and campsites are available with both electric and water hookups. Both campgrounds have restroom/bath facilities and are maintained by the Florida Forest Service. Bait, supplies, and other conveniences are available in nearby Baker and Blackmon, FL. Karick 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 Karick Lake; however, use of electric trolling motors is allowed.
For reserving campsites and cabins in Florida State Parks check the Reserve America website or call 888-622-9190.
For additional information regarding fishing opportunities at Karick Lake contact Blackwater Fisheries Center in Holt, Fl. Phone 850-957-6177.
On July 10, 2017, the FWC began working in partnership with the Florida Forest Service to conduct a complete drawdown of Karick Lake Fish Management Area. The drawdown has since ended, and the lake returned to full pool February 2019. Restoration activities that occurred during and after the drawdown included: installation of gravel, mossback and brush fish attractors, the removal of 63,865 cubic yards of muck from the lake bottom, the planting of native plants that included maidencane, spatterdock, bulrush, and pickerel weed and the stocking of Bluegill, Redear Sunfish (shellcracker), and Largemouth Bass. It should take a couple of years for the fish stocked to grow to a catchable size. Also, a fair amount of the fish in Karick Lake prior to the drawdown will still be present and available for anglers to catch.
Through the months of January and February, weather patterns will continue to be crucial. Cold fronts push fish into deeper water, while warmer days following these systems will cause fish to seek forage in shallower areas. During this time, look for sportfish along steep drop-offs or stands of vegetation. Sportfish activity will increase with water temperature during late February and early March.
Water temperatures approaching the low-mid 60’s will begin to draw these fish into the shallows to spawn. Male bass move in first, building nests in 2-6 feet of water with some even venturing as deep as 10 feet. Larger female bass will then begin to pair with males at each nest site. Peak spawning activity generally occurs around water temperatures of 64-66 degrees. It is not unusual for certain areas in the lake to warm up faster than others. This can create “hot-spots” for Largemouth Bass activity so don’t be afraid to explore the entire lake perimeter. In addition to water temperatures, weather patterns are critical to angler success this time of year. Monitor cold fronts which can have significant effects on feeding and spawning activity. Dark colored plastic worms/lizards are particularly effective at generating strikes from aggressive, spawning bass. Spinnerbaits, floater-diver type lures, and rat-L-traps are also popular artificial baits this time of year. During low-light conditions (sunrise/sunset) noisy topwater lures (buzzbaits and surface plugs) can be thrilling as they generate explosive strikes at the surface.
Bluegill and Redear Sunfish (shellcracker) will likely still be moving between shallow and deep-water areas based on the changing weather patterns. Fish these areas with red worms, wigglers, or crickets either on the bottom with a small weight or deep below a cork. Be sure to use small hooks and light tackle to prevent these fish from recognizing your gear. Artificial baits such as beetle spins, roostertails, or curly-tailed grubs can also be effective when fished with a slower retrieve to access deeper water. Redear Sunfish (shellcracker) generally begin to congregate as water temperatures approach the upper 60’s with spawning activity peaking around 68-72 degrees. Catfish can be pulled from deeper water off the fishing pier or near the dam by fishing on the bottom with beef/chicken livers or earthworms.
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 Karick Lake:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 1