When you need to go fishing

Loxahatchee Refuge

Loxahatchee Refuge near West Palm Beach, Florida

Take Interstate 95′s exit 50 in travel 7 miles west on U.S. Highway 98 (Southern Boulevard). Turn south onto U.S. Highway 441 and drive 13 miles. The entrance is on the west side of the road, a map is located below.

A portion of the northern Everglades is preserved on this refuge. The Marsh trail takes visitors along dikes surrounding impoundments where water levels are manipulated seasonally to benefit wildlife. In addition to being a home to wildlife, the refuge offers many recreational opportunities. Walking trails, a canoe trail, bike trail, boat ramps, fishing platform, observation towers, butterfly garden, and a visitor center are available to outdoor enthusiasts. A Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boat ramp provides free launching. It is a single-lane concrete ramp in good condition. This ramp is easily accessed by exiting either I-95 or the Turnpike at PGA Boulevard. Traveling west, it is 4.0 miles from I-95 and 2.1 miles from the Turnpike to the ramp, which is located on the northeast corner of the intersection of PGA Boulevard and the canal. There is adequate parking, but no facilities.

A bird’s eye view can be obtained by climbing into the observation tower on the Marsh Trail. Herons, egrets, ibis, limpkins, anhingas, purple gallinules, vultures, and red-shouldered hawks are common. Winter brings seasonal residents such as the northern harrier and several species of ducks, including blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, fulvous whistling ducks, and ring-necked ducks.

The Loxahatchee Slough Canal provides excellent fishing for largemouth bass and other sportfish such as bluegill and redear sunfish. A few black crappie are also present. Shoreline vegetation, rip-rap, and shady areas associated with bridges and culverts provide excellent places to fish. If there is a strong current in the main canal, look for protected areas that offer refuge from the current (e.g., cut-outs and bridge pilings). Culverts and spillways with water flowing through or over them into the main canal are especially good places to fish. The Loxahatchee Slough Canal contains more largemouth bass than most other canals in southeast Florida. Plastic worms and crank baits work well for largemouth bass. Live bait fishes such as golden shiners are also popular bait. The bag limit for largemouth bass is five fish per day, only one of which can be greater than 14 inches.

Additional links;

http://www.fws.gov/loxahatchee/
http://www.fws.gov/Refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=41560
http://www.floridaconservation.org/viewing/sites/site-se07.html
http://sofia.usgs.gov/lox_monitor_model/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loxahatchee_National_Wildlife_Refuge
http://www.loxahatcheefriends.com/

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