Winter Haven Chain of Lakes
Located within the city of Winter Haven, nine lakes compose this 6000-acre chain where fishing and boating are extremely popular. Boat and shore access to the South Chain are available at lakes Summit, Shipp, Howard, Cannon, and Hartridge. The North Chain can be accessed through lakes Conine, Rochelle, and Haines. Fish attractors are located and marked in lakes Summit, Winterset, Cannon, Smart, and Haines. Bass anglers achieve success by "flipping" plastic worms around shoreline plants such as cattail and maidencane, as well as docks.
Bluegill (bream) fishing should improve with warmer water temperatures. Use crickets and red wigglers fished below a cork near shoreline vegetation. Black crappie (specks) fishing should be good through April but expect the bite to slow with rising water temperatures. Drift live Missouri minnows or troll with Hal flies and small spinners over grass beds for the best action. Largemouth bass fishing can be slow at times with the cold fronts moving in and out during the late spring months. Most fish during this time of year are caught on live wild shiners, and plastic worms fished slowly around cattails and bulrush (buggy whips). Try using a lipless crankbait or jerkbait along deeper grass beds. Largemouth bass will begin to feed heavily after spawning, so try fishing shallow areas with cattails, bulrush and Kissimmee grass (maidencane) present with plastic lizards, crawfish, and other soft plastics such as the Zoom Brush Hog in Junebug, red shad, and tequila colors. If you don’t find them shallow they may have moved out to deeper water. Try to find schooling bass and use crankbaits and spinnerbaits in shad imitation colors, and large Texas rigged worms when the bite slows. 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 the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 141
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 18
Hall of Fame Club (13+ pounds): 4