Orange Lake is the largest lake in the North Central Region at 12,550 acres. It is designated as a Fish Management Area and is located about 20 miles southeast of Gainesville. Orange Lake averages 5.5 feet deep with a maximum depth of 12 feet. Water levels fluctuate an average of 2 feet, annually. Outflow is controlled by a fixed-crest weir located at Highway 301 (southeast portion of lake). Orange Lake receives inflow from Newnans Lake through River Styx and from Lochloosa Lake through Cross Creek. Cross Creek (1.8 miles) is navigable to most boats during normal water levels.
Orange lake has an extensive aquatic vegetation community, dominated by spatterdock (lily pads) and periodically hydrilla. Shallow marsh areas are inaccessible to anglers due to the dense growth of vegetation. Bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie and largemouth bass are generally caught in the deeper spatterdock, emergent grasses and hydrilla.
Marion County and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission allocated funds to establish a fishing pier at Heagy-Burry Park (southwestern part of the lake). The pier is handicap-accessible. A fish attractor is located near the pier, which provides for good fishing.
For updated information please call:
South Shore Fish Camp 352-595-4241
Sportsman Cove Fish Camp 352-591-1435
The water level on Orange Lake is the highest that it’s been in the last 4 years, thanks to the winter rains received throughout north Florida. The lake can now be accessed at either the Heagy-Burry boat ramp or the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings boat ramp. However, now the concern has shifted to the amount of floating islands that roam around the lake. Some of these islands can be quite large which can potentially block passage through trails and access to boat ramps. Anglers should be mindful of shifting floating islands while on the lake, particularly during windy days. The largemouth bass fishery has declined by the standards set during the 2010-2011 years due to the drought, but Orange Lake can be a fine destination for those searching for bream and black crappie. Black crappie anglers should drift or troll live minnows or artificial jigs along vegetation edges at the north end of the lake, and near Red Bird Island and Sampson’s Point. For those looking for some stocky bream, grass shrimp, crickets and minnows are your best baits for warmouth, shellcrackers, and bluegill sunfish.