Lake Iamonia is a large, prairie lake in northern Leon County, Florida; the United States created during the Pleistocene epoch.
About Lake Iamonia
Lake Iamonia (pronounced Ammonia) derives its name from the Seminole Indian town “Hiamonee,” located on the Ochlockonee River banks. Lake Iamonia is a prairie lake, a shallow lake that empties naturally during dry periods, allowing plants to flourish on the nutrient-rich lake bottom.
At full pool, Lake Iamonia covers just over 5,700 acres. It now covers approximately 200 acres due to below-average rainfall in the area.
Hydrologists say Iamonia and several nearby lakes are “perched” lakes. Perched lakes sit over a thin limestone shelf over the Floridan aquifer. Also called karst formations, perched lakes typically have sinkholes. During a drought, when the water table drops, the water leaves the lake through the sinkholes.
Prairie lakes eventually return to their liquid state when wetter conditions prevail. Prairie lakes often have sinkholes, and Lake Iamonia is no exception. A dam was built in 1938 to prevent the lake’s water from flowing into the natural sinkhole.
However, by 1980 the dam was declared unsafe by the Northwest Florida Water Management District, so the gates were raised to let nature take its course; the gates were eliminated in 2007. Naturally, fluctuating water levels are now considered the healthiest fish environments.
Fishing Lake Iamonia is a popular pastime, and the lake specializes in prize catches of bluegill, black crappie, and largemouth bass. Shallow depths allow for aquatic plant growth, providing the ideal living conditions for the myriad fish that live beneath the clear waters. Hiding among reeds and lurking below lily pads, the fish have found a habitat rich in nutrients and hiding places.
So drop your line into Lake Iamonia, drift as close to the reeds as you dare, and get ready to fill the skillet with savory fish caught right here at the lake.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has used dry periods on Lake Iamonia to remove sediment off the lake bottom. About twice a year, water from the Ochlockonee River spills into the western portion of Lake Iamonia.
While the lake is down, the FWC works with contractors to remove approximately 24 acres of decaying organic material down to the mineralized soil. When average rainfall returns, fisheries biologists say that many fish types need the clean lake bottom for spawning and feeding.
Lake Iamonia is located in the Red Hills Region and is approximately 5,757 acres (23 km²) in size and is 7 miles (11 km) long and up to 2 miles (3 km) wide. It has a drainage basin of roughly 101 square miles (260 km). The west side edges near State Road 155 (N. Meridian Road). The highest elevation around the lake’s basin is 220 feet (67 m)
Located by County Road 12, which runs along the northern part of the lake. Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy is situated on a bluff on the lake’s north side. The eastern side borders near highway US 319, the south side is bordered by the developments of Killearn Lakes Plantation and Luna Pines.
A facelift by Volunteers
The bottom of Lake Iamonia is north of Tallahassee; it is cleaner than it’s been in years thanks to a host of volunteers, county and state support.
Cleaning up the lake was the idea of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Charles “Bucky” Higman, a 32-year-veteran officer who lives in Tallahassee, and Katie Woodside, an freshwater fisheries biologist. Higman reached out to Josh McSwain, supervisor of parks for Leon County Parks and Recreation, and about 20 FSU students who wanted to participate in community service work.
The group collected more than 2,500 pounds of litter, including cans and bottles, bait cups, broken chairs, and even a recliner. The garbage had been left on the receding lake banks by anglers over the last one to two years.
Leon County provided garbage bags and transported the filled bags to the county transfer station. “Our hope is people will help us by taking their trash and empty containers with them,” Higman said. “This is a wonderful resource, and we need everyone to help keep it clean.”