Saddle Creek Park – Polk County
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. Saddle Creek Park is situated between Winter Haven and Lakeland in Polk County, Florida. It is managed and maintained by Polk County Leisure Services who do a great job of caring for the park. Polk county is in central Florida and is about half way between Orlando and Tampa. The park provides convenient opportunities for family outings, picnics, boating, and fishing. An abundance of bank fishing makes this a unique Fish Management Area. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stock channel catfish regularly 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.
It is a great place to visit or stay while on vacation as well as just spend some time doing one of your favorite outdoor hobbies, if you live in the local area. It is one of the largest county parks in central Florida and has facilities for all the family, whether you just want to cruise your boat on a beautiful lake, take advantage of some great fishing, or hike along some wonderful forest trails. There are also facilities for target shooting, as well as children’s playgrounds, sports facilities and picnic gazebos. If you love spending time outdoors, you will love Saddle Creek Park.
Fishing is definitely the most common activity of the regular park visitors. No matter what time of day or year, you come to the park you will always find someone fishing. This is not surprising when you discover that Saddle Creek Park has more lakeside bank fishing available than any other park or public facility in Polk County. The lakeside areas are very well maintained and provide very convenient and easy access for fishing.
At Saddle Creek you can fish for largemouth bass, the fish will be holding on the deep edges along points and the many islands. Plastic worms in Junebug and natural colors will produce bass when they are not chasing shad imitating baits like spinner baits and Rat-L-Traps. Live wild shiners will be the bait of choice when looking for lunker. Free-lined or under a cork, shiners are a good bet for fast action. 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 has been good all year. When fishing n 10 to 12 feet of water, use chicken liver, commercial stinkbaits, dead shiners, and nightcrawlers on the bottom. Black crappie (specks) can be caught by drifting live Missouri minnows or trolling with Hal flies and small spinners. Fishing will improve as the water temperature cools in the fall.