Saddle Creek Park
Saddle Creek Park is a series of phosphate pits on 740 acres of mined phosphate land east of Lakeland off U.S. Route 92 in Polk County. The park provides convenient opportunities for family outings, picnics, boating, and fishing. An abundance of bank fishing makes this a unique Fish Management Area. Channel catfish are stocked regularly by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and largemouth bass are popular with Saddle Creek anglers. The special regulations on largemouth bass (15-24 inch protective slot limit, 3 fish bag limit) and catfish (6 fish bag limit) are needed to maintain desirable fish populations under intense fishing pressure. Fish feeders are operated and maintained near a number of bank fishing sites. Fishing for catfish and bluegill is often good in these areas. Willow is the major shoreline vegetation. There are a number of public boat ramps on Saddle Creek Park Road, which runs through the middle of the park.
Bank fishing opportunities here are excellent. Bluegill (bream) fishing is improving with the warmer water, and they can be caught with live crickets, grass shrimp, and red wigglers. Catfish can be caught on chicken livers and commercial stink baits around deeper holes. Anglers recently reported big largemouth bass being caught, but patience will be the name of the game for the sweltering summer months. Use live, wild shiners for the best action and try plastic worms in Junebug, red shad, and Christmas colors fished slowly along the edges and near drop-offs. Large schools of shad are coming to the surface in the morning and just before sunset. Don’t be afraid to throw your walking topwater baits, suspending jerkbaits and weightless shad colored flukes in and around the schools to catch bass chasing the shad. Be on the lookout for tagged bass larger than 8 pounds. Tags are yellow and located on the back (dorsal) of the fish. If you catch a tagged fish, remember to remove the tag and call the number provided. You will need it to collect your $100 reward! Black crappie (specks) fishing will be slow, but a few fish can still be caught. Live Missouri minnows and small jigs trolled or drifted are the best bets for specks. 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 Saddle Creek:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 18
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 4