Located five miles northeast of Lake Placid, Highlands County, this 27,692-acre lake has quality fishing for black crappie (specks) and one of the highest largemouth bass catch rates in the state. The best speck fishing occurs during winter months drifting over open water, particularly in the northeast and southwest corners. Predominant aquatic vegetation includes spadderdock (bonnets), bulrush (buggy whips), cattail, and pondweed (pepper grass). Kissimmee grass on the south end is particularly productive when there is flow into the Istokpoga Canal. This canal, located off County Highway 621, provides excellent largemouth bass fishing from the bank when the gates are open. Arbuckle and Josephine Creek mouths are also good areas when there is flow. The island areas and associated grass can hold bass any time of year and the deepest portion of the lake (10 ft) is in the southwest corner. Public boat ramps are located on the north, northeast, and southwest shorelines off of U.S. Route 98, Lake Boulevard off Cow House Road, and Highland Lake Drive off of County Route 621, respectively. There are also six fish camps/resorts on the lake with various accommodations. Anglers can wade fish off of the Cow House Road boat ramp.
Lake Istokpoga is one of the best lakes in the state at having a chance to get your hands on a fish of a lifetime. Largemouth Bass fishing has been improving in Lake Istokpoga since Hurricane Irma in 2017 and should only improve as water temperatures continue to drop over the next few months. As of April 2023, there have been a whopping 625 TrophyCatch submissions of bass larger than 8 pounds since the program was launched in October 2012. A total of 526 fish have been entered into the Lunker Club (8-9.99 lb.), 97 into Trophy Club (10-12.99 lb), and 2 have been entered into the Hall of Fame Club (13+ lb.). Remember, as part of the TrophyCatch program, all of these big bass have been released, so your trophy still swims in Lake Istokpoga. Try using lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits in areas with moving water. Also try plastic worms and lizards in Junebug and red shad colors to fish along the bulrush reed lines. Fishing with live wild shiners will be the best bet for larger bass during late fall and early winter. Bass have been tagged on the lake. If you catch a tagged fish, remember to remove the tag and call the number provided. You will need it to collect your reward! Black Crappie (specks) fishing is slow right now but should really get going as the water temperature drops. Fish with live Missouri minnows under a cork, or troll with small spinners and jigs for some good speck action. The best areas to target specks are Henderson’s Cove, deeper cuts around the islands, and along the outer edge of spatterdock pads. Bluegill (bream) and Redear Sunfish (shellcracker) fishing will begin to slow over the next month as spawning slows down. Tight lines!
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 Lake Istokpoga:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 526
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 97
Hall of Fame (13+ pounds): 2