Orlando Fab Five Lakes
Orlando Fab Five Lakes bodies of water in the greater Orlando/Winter Park area collectively fall under the Fish Orlando! pro-gram. Areas that receive the most attention are the Fab Five(managed for quality-sized fish), and Urban Ponds(managed for novice anglers). Lots of other areas also offer good fishing for largemouth bass, panfish and catfish.
The following is a generalized quarterly fishing forecast for the Fish Orlando! program. For even more up-to-date information, we suggest you call or visit a local bait-and-tackle shop or guide service. At times we will provide information for some local contacts, which indicated they were willing to be listed herein.
Fish Orlando!’s mission is to create and promote convenient, quality fishing opportunities in the greater Orlando area. Initiated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in 1998, the program is supported by the City of Orlando, City of Ocoee, City of Winter Park, Orange County, BASS PRO SHOPS and a variety of other businesses and volunteer/civic groups.
For a complete listing of directions to public fishing opportunities in Orange County, contact our office for a free copy of the Fish Orlando! Fishing Map (1601 Scotty’s Road,Kissimmee, Florida 34744; phone: 352-732-1225; email: fishorlando@MyFWC.com).
New Weekly Freshwater Fishing Guide Reports brought to you by the Wildlife Foundation of Florida.
Fish Orlando Lake Information and Fishing Forecast
Starke Lake FMA A modern fishing pier (equipped with fish feeders), four marked brush fish attractors and enhanced western shoreline make this 225-acre Fab Five Lake worth checking out. Located in the town of Ocoee (northwest of Orlando), Starke Lake FMA has the potential to provide catches of 10-20 largemouth bass per day. Boating access is available via a ramp located adjacent to Ocoee City Hall. Successful winter/spring patterns include lipless crankbaits (gold/black) fished on outside eelgrass edges (try the southwest corner of the lake); or soft plastic crayfish (blue/pumpkin) flipped inside the Kissimmee grass and cattails (try the cattail point a long cast away from the boat ramp). In summertime, largemouth bass often congregate on fish attractors and areas that drop from 12 to 20 feet of water. Carolina- and Texas-rigged plastic worms (tequila sunrise-colored) are both good in this deep water. Contact the Fish Orlando! office for a free topographical map of Starke Lake.
Turkey Lake: Like Starke Lake, largemouth bass should be done with spawning. Try the deeper pads, grassy bottlenecks and main lake points with lipless crankbaits,Carolina-rigged plastics (French Fries, Seinkos, etc.) and soft jerk baits (flukes). Also try casting a Zara Spook or Devil’s Horse on the fish attractors (marked with a yellow FWC buoy). The fish attractors are listed on a topographical map, which can be obtained by emailing or calling the Fish Orlando office (see contact information above). If water levels are up and water temperatures are still at or below 80 degrees look for the fish to stay inside the emergent grass and be susceptible to soft jerk baits and top-waters. Due to deed restrictions there is no public boat access on Turkey Lake, but the FWC, the City of Orlando and Bass Pro Shops have teamed together to provide a Boat Loaner Program where four Bass Tracker Boats can be rented for only $15 a morning (7 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.; Thurs – Sun). Call the City of Orlando’s Bill Frederick Park at 407-299-5581 to reserve a boat.
Lake Underhill: Bass fishing should be good this quarter. Fishing the edges of the hydrilla and peppergrass with a weightless Seinko, fluke or pegged four-incher should produce a bass or two greater than four pounds. Top-waters that walk the dog (i.e. Zara Spook, Sammy, etc.) can be productive along these edges first thing in the morning or right before dark.
Try fishing for bass on the numerous drop-offs around the lake with wacky-rigged plastics or fluke juniors pegged with a small weight (1/32 or 1/64 ounce) approximately two feet above the worm. In the first part of the quarter most of the fish should still be relatively shallow(six to eight feet) with a movement deeper (eight to 12 feet) as the weather turns warmer in May and June. Schooling activity is also a possibility, especially around the aerator diffusers. The diffusers are easily found by the bubbles coming up from the bottom. A Rat-L-Trap fished quickly or another shad-imitating crankbait or lure will usually catch the schoolers
Hybrid striped bass fishing slows down this quarter and the channel catfish action picks up. Liver fished on the bottom around the numerous dredge holes should provide good action for channel catfish up to 10 lbs. The dredge areas are listed on a topographical map, which can be obtained by emailing or calling the Fish Orlando office (see contact information above). If the dredge holes do not hold fish try fishing the mouths of the numerous canals associated with the lake.
(Barnett Park Frog Pond, Bear Creek, Lake Island Park, and Santiago): Because the URBAN PONDS are put-and-take channel catfish fisheries and channel catfish are a warm water species, this quarter is usually very good. Try fishing chicken liver rigged on a #6 or #8 hook around the “Baited Fishing Area” signs. Night crawlers and wigglers are a good second choice for bait. However, increases in the last decade of cormorant (fish-eating bird) activity has required our project to try various stocking techniques to overcome this challenge. Barnett is scheduled to be stocked with 4,500 channel catfish from our Richloam fish hatchery by the first week in April. These should be approximately half a pound each and large enough to avoid the cormorants. The City of Winter Park purchased 2,750 large channel catfish (one pound each) from Georgia Select Hatchery that were stocked in Lake Island Park in September 2010 and these also should result in good catfishing. Because it is difficult and expensive to stock the larger channel catfish, Bear Creek and Santiago were stocked with smaller catfish at very high rates (three times the usual number) in the hopes that the large numbers would overwhelm the bird predation. By the end of April the majority of cormorants should have migrated north and it will remain to be seen as to the success of Bear Creek’s and Santiago’s channel catfish stocking. Although channel catfish are the management focus of these small ponds, some decent largemouth bass fishing can be had in Bear Creek using wacky-rigged finesse plastics and topwater plugs thrown first thing in the morning. Because of their abundant small bream, the URBAN PONDS are also a good place to take a kid to catch their first fish. A small piece of worm or biscuit dough fished under a small float is usually all that’s needed. Once again focus your efforts around the “Baited Fishing Area” signs.
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