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! Largemouth Bass will be holding on the deep edges along points and the many islands this FMA offers. Plastic worms in Junebug, black and blue, and natural colors will produce Bass when they are not chasing shad imitating baits like spinnerbaits and Rat-L-Traps. Live wild shiners will be the bait of choice when looking for lunkers. Free-lined or under a cork, shiners are a good bet for fast action. During recent electrofishing surveys, Largemouth Bass larger than 8 pounds were tagged, with a few around 13 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 reward. Bluegill and Redear Sunfish (shellcracker) can be caught on crickets and red wigglers, respectively. Fishing will slow as spawning ends and fish disperse. Catfish fishing will be good year-round. Fish with chicken liver, commercial stinkbaits, dead shiners, and nightcrawlers on the bottom in 10 to 12 feet of water. Black crappie (specks) can be caught by drifting live Missouri minnows or trolling with Hal flies and small spinners. Speck fishing will improve as the water temperature cools in late fall and early winter. 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): 16
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 3