Lake Trafford is approximately 1500 acres of natural beauty. It is positioned in northeast Collier County. Home to native birds, alligators, and other swamp creatures. Trafford is regarded as a premier fishing lake for most anglers, with its Crappie, Bass, Bluegill, and Shellcracker all call the lake home. Try it for yourself and spend some time in one of the most beautiful areas of Southwest Florida!
Explore Lake Trafford Swamp, Headwaters of the Historic Everglades on the West Coast of Florida. View its creatures in their natural as wildlife officials are working to restore Lake Trafford in Collier County. They are planning 50,000 bulrush plants that will help accelerate the fish population process. These plants create a desirable habitat for bugs, fish, and other wildlife.
Enjoy the mom & pop feeling of old rustic Florida. It is still alive; the natural beauty and colorful characters make Lake Trafford a unique stop on any day.
Top Lake Trafford Fish Species
History of Lake Trafford Area
Immokalee’s forefathers root back from settlers of both British and Scottish descent. Like many early settlers, these Europeans were in search of a better life. Joseph Woodwind left Bristol, England, when he was fourteen. He boarded a ship carrying laying cable from Punta Rassa to Cuba in the mid-1800s. Goodwin did not like sea travel, so he jumped ship and hid in Cuba until the boat left the area. Goodwin then boarded another ship and returned to Florida.
When Joseph Goodwind reached Florida, he took on the name William Brown. He traveled across Florida, exploring the wild terrain by oxcart. He hunted and traded goods with Indians in exchange for furs, which he sold in Fort Myers. Brown married Jane Jernigan of Fort Myers in 1879; together, they had ten children. The traveling and trading life became too much for this large family, so they decided to settle down around 1890.
The area they chose was near the Alligator Alley; today, it is called the Big Cypress Preserve. In the early days of Florida, much of the Everglades was wetlands, and the spot that Brown chose was called “boat landing”; it eventually became Bill Brown’s boat landing, which is still found on maps today.
The landing was on the canoe routes used by the native Americans and white men, making it the perfect place for a trading post. Brown did much trading with Seminoles, and his children grew up with Seminole children. Brown’s third son Frank became a close companion with a Seminole boy named Josie Billie, who taught him how to speak Seminole. Billie went on to become a great medicine man.
Years later, Brown sold the landing to a missionary group and moved to Gopher Ridge. His children, except for Frank, stayed on the reservation and was appointed one of the first “Indian agents” in 1918. In Gopher Ridge, Brown opened one of the area’s first stores. He traded goods with the Seminoles, and generations later, they continue to live in Gopher Ridge, which is now known as Immokalee.
A 14-member task force was established for one year on May 7, 1996, by Resolution No. 96-225 to serve as an advisory and oversight body for the Board of County Commissioners to the appropriate staff who will initiate activities de-muck and restore Lake Trafford. Resolution No. 97-250 – extending terms for one year to May 7, 1998; Resolution No. 98-118 – developing terms for one year to May 7, 1999; Resolution No. 99-239 – extending terms for one year to May 7, 2000. On 4/23/02, the Board adopted Ordinance 2002-18, establishing this task force as a 13-member permanent committee. His term was four years.
RESERVE A FISHING TRIP
The Pepper Ranch
On Lake Trafford sits The Pepper Ranch since the mid-1920s. In an interview with Gene Hearn of the Pepper Ranch family, he reminisced about his family’s ties with Immokalee and Lake Trafford. His grandfather, Frank Pepper, moved to the area in the 1920s during the “boom and bust days” (Hearn 4/18/00).
In the boom and bust days, men and women moved to Florida to buy land to build on, so they would spend a lot of money on earth, but the deals would often bust. The contracts would bust because, in the 1920s and 30’s people did not like Florida. They thought it was too hot and mosquito-infested.
The land was pretty inexpensive, so Pepper bought 2500 acres of property surrounding Lake Trafford. He bought it from Henry Flagler, who was a hotel man. Flagler came to Florida to build hotels and brought the first railroad line into the state for transient guests.
The Pepper family used the lake and the land for Fish Camps in the mid-’20s to late ’30s. Visitors would come to the lake, stay in cabins on Pepper property, and fish Lake Trafford all day. After Pepper’s brother died, the camps were vacant because no one wanted to take care of the project. In the mid-’40s, Pepper’s grandfather donated 10 acres of land to the county for a park.
When the surveyor began to work on the project, they realized that the team had surveyed the wrong ten acres. But the other property owner didn’t mind, so both the pubic area and Lake Trafford Marina sits on the surveyed land today.
Lake Trafford Marina
Collier county park and recreation control the Lake Trafford public boat launch area and the pier. It was open to the public in the early ’60s. The boat ramp was initially where the dock is today. It had to be moved to its current location because five cars went over the edge within a few years.
The Collier family still owns most of the land surrounding the lake. Ski and Annie Olesky own the marina and the surrounding campsites. Originally the land was owned by ten investors from Naples. The shareholders would use the property for a bass-fishing club in the ’70s, so they built the marina.
Something fell through with the club, around the same time that Ski got involved. Ski was unsure why the bass club never worked out, but it benefited him because the shareholders wanted to sell. He bought shares from two of the ten people in the early ’70s and now runs the marina. He had no business experience but decided to try it out.
It was a difficult transition, but the year pad off because he bought shares from the remaining holders is the sole owner of a thriving business.
Lake Trafford Fishing
By contacting local tackle shops and fishing with guides, you find the best fishing holes. Access from pier or boat, largemouth bass are caught during prime fishing daylight hours. Focus your effort in shaded areas near a structure, and use top-water lures, minnow-like crankbaits, or small golden shiners. Light tackle works best.
The Lake went through a huge restoration process which you can read about, the lake was restocked with bluegill, crappie, and bass and we have seen great progress in the fishing.
We at BassOnline.com encourages anglers to practice catch-and-release when fishing for any bass. Overall, this species is a hearty fish, and nearly 100 percent will survive being caught and released when adequately handled. However, bass do not live well in live-wells or being out of the water. It is crucial; we release quickly to maximize their chances of survival.