Phosphate Pits Florida

concrete boat ramps exist - late spring fishing

Eagle Lake and Lang lake make up what is known as the phosphate pits of Hamilton County, Florida.

Both lakes are Fish management areas, and the pit has an excellent reputation for being a fertile fish factory. The fishing here is game-changing with quality largemouths, large bluegill, black crappie, brown bullhead catfish, and the stocked sunshine bass.

In addition, the fisheries have abundant forage and sand bars that create ideal habitats for more fish to thrive.

All the islands and shorelines have been graded to create gradual slopes in the pits with deep water only in the center. Only trolling motors are allowed on, though gas motors may be attached to the boat still.

Both lakes are green in color, fertile, and deeper than average north Florida lakes but typically grow more fish per acre due to abundant forage throughout the Hamilton Phosphate Pits.

The Pits Compared To Average North Florida Lakes

Most natural lakes in Florida are shaped like bowls, with the deepest parts in the middle and are shallowest at the edge. However, this phosphate pit was dug out with giant shovels, leaving all types of topography on the bottom.

Phosphate pits are known for their trophy bass because of the thriving ecosystem that comes from the phosphate fertilizer.

Hamilton County Phosphate Pits Fishing

The phosphate that’s dug from these pits is shipped around the world to use as fertilizer. The residual phosphate that’s left behind after the mining process fertilizes the ecosystem in the pit once it fills with water. This fertilizing effect makes it, so phosphate pits are usually much more productive than natural lakes. They are known to have higher than average growth rates for the local largemouth bass and other resident fish.

Both Eagle Lake and Lang Lake specialize in Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, and Black Crappie. Both of these lakes are Fish Management Areas; therefore, a fishing license is required to fish.

Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake (200 acres) is old and very fertile. Steep sides, a maze of narrow cuts with points and sand bars and cattails in the coves characterize the lake. No concrete boat ramps exist at Eagle lake. Largemouth bass fishing is best in spring; bluegill, redear sunfish, and brown bullhead catfish are best in the summer; black crappie and stocked sunshine bass are best in fall and winter. 

Hamilton Phosphate Pits, Eagle Lake produces the fastest sunshine bass growth in this region. Fish up to 8 pounds have been reported at only 23 months of age. Trolling motors only may be operated on Eagle Lake, although gasoline motors may be attached to the boat.

Eagle Lake contains hybrid striped bass, which allows anglers to hook into some of these hard-fighting fish. Hybrids feed on a variety of offerings ranging from live bait to chicken liver. The best bet for locating these free-roaming fish is to target flow areas where hybrids stage while waiting for unsuspecting prey.

eagle lake produces daily bag limits

Lang Lake

Lang Lake Fish Management Area (86 acres) is a reclaimed Hamilton Phosphate Pit, meaning all the islands and shoreline have been graded to create gradual slopes with deep water only in the center of cuts. The vegetated shelf thus created is a fertile fish factory with cypress trees, cattails, and hydrilla out to about eight feet, dropping like a wall to 20 feet. An 18-inch minimum size provides quality largemouth bass fishing. Large bluegill are caught mostly in late spring through fall. A minimum size of 10 inches has been established for black crappie.

Lang lake has topped out coontail and hydrilla with sun-baked filamentous algae mats choking it. Ideal water levels are about four feet down, and two proposed solar-powered bottom-up aeration systems have been nixed. Spring fishing generally supports poor numbers of sportfish but an outstanding brown bullhead population. These fish will likely be very hungry and should make for some enjoyable early morning and late afternoon fishing. For peace of mind at the ramp, a 4×4 is always a safe bet as Hamilton Phosphate Pits is not responsible for the outcome.

Important Note

Special quality regulations are in effect on Lang Lake: largemouth bass – minimum size 18 inches; black crappie – minimum size 10 inches. Note: The daily bag limits for bass – only one over 22 inches; crappie – 25 fish per day and panfish – 20 fish per day remain unchanged.

note special quality regulations - trolling motors

Tips For Fishing The Pits

Fishing the phosphate pits in Florida will require some adjustment in techniques from the usually bass fishing methods. Still, you will certainly be compensated with a catch of a lifetime once you figure it out.

Many lily pads gather along the edges where the water is usually six to eight feet deep. Anglers often have the most luck when working a Texas-rigged soft plastic slowly through these lily pads. Unfortunately, topwaters aren’t as effective here as many largemouth bass will hold to structure on the bottom and aren’t willing to come up to the surface for it.

Boat Ramps

Public Boat Access is located off Hwy. 27. Access to the lake is through a dirt road.

lang lake deeper water - about eight feet

Phosphate Mining

Most phosphate mining currently occurs in the Central Florida area, including Polk, Manatee, Hillsborough, and Hardee Counties.

The Central Florida region for phosphate mining covers about 1.3 million acres of land that has become known as the “Bone Valley.” Hamilton County is the only mine operating out of North Florida.

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