This 5850-acre lake has a "little" northern area and a "big" southern arm connected by "the pass" where shad school and fishing is usually good for schooling largemouth and stocked sunshine bass. Numerous homes surround the lake, most with docks and ski boats; fishing is always best early and late or at night and on weekdays. In spite of development, the fish habitat is outstanding with many areas of cypress and healthy maidencane grass beds.
Local contact: Chappini's Bait & Tackle 352-475-9496.
Bald Eagle Bait and Tackle 352-473-6060.
Bluegill and redear can be found around docks and cypress trees scattered around the lake. Target those fish using crickets, earthworms, and grass shrimp. As with Lake Sampson, give a light-weight flyrod a try for these aggressive bream. Warming water temperatures should encourage these fish to congregate in the shallows for in order to spawn. Depending on the weather, crappie could still be shallow in spawning mode. Anglers should target holes in the pads and grass shorelines using minnows and small artificial jigs under floats or tight-lined. As with the crappie, some bass could still be in spawning mode. Anglers should look for bass in near-shore maidencane beds, under docks, and around cypress trees. Soft plastics flipped, pitched, or dragged near structure or around holes in the vegetation should draw strikes. Anglers looking to target larger bass should consider slow-trolling live golden shiners along near-shore grasslines. As with Lake Sampson, keep an eye open for roving schools of feeding sunshine bass offshore. Look for birds diving or surface commotion to find these feeding fish. Approach these feeding schools with stealth, and you should be able to catch multiple fish before the action stops. Effective lures include anything shiny, white, or minnow-shaped. Be prepared for either schooling largemouth bass or sunshine bass, as they can both display the same feeding behavior offshore.
You may be fortunate enough to find some large bass still on the beds. Several impressive trophy fish in excess of 13 pounds have been caught already this spring in the region. Register online with FWC’s Trophy Catch program (http://www.myfwc.com/Trophycatch) and enter your trophy bass for a chance to win prizes and help provide FWC biologists with valuable information. There were several recent rule changes to the Trophy Catch program that anglers will want to note.