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Ocklawaha River

(Marion & Putnam counties): The Oklawaha River originates at the north end of Lake Griffin in Lake County. The river runs from south to north through the center of Marion County. Ocala is found just to the west of the center of the preserve and the Ocala National Forest is found along much of its eastern boundary. Two of the main access points to the river are at the Highway 40 near Silver Springs and the Highway 316 crossings near Eureka. The Ocklawaha River Aquatic Preserve is made up of roughly 30 miles of the Oklawaha River system. The upper five miles of river were widened and straightened to some degree years ago to allow for navigation by larger vessels. The now defunct Cross Florida Barge Canal would have passed through these areas. About five miles downriver of the start of the preserve, the Oklawaha River meets the Silver River spring run. This run is one of the largest spring runs in Florida rivaling Rainbow Spring. It has an average discharge of over 500 million gallons a day. Over three miles of the roughly five-mile run are part of the preserve. The headspring area is a tourist attraction. The next twenty miles of the Oklawaha River, downriver of this confluence follows a narrow winding course. It is a black water river with a swamp canopy along most of its length. Intermittently high areas meet the river forming sandy bluffs. The lock structure that was intended to flood the river as part of the Cross Florida Barge Canal still remains at the northern end of the Preserve.

Ocklawaha River catch largemouth bass fishing is good using live shiners and plastic worms around deepwater structures, while topwater lures are productive near vegetation and brush. Channel and white catfish are active downstream of Rodman Dam in deep holes along bends of the river and are being taken on worms and chicken livers. Some crappies are being caught on minnows around submerged brush.

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