Located five miles northeast of Lake Placid, Highlands County, this 27,692-acre lake has quality fishing for black crappie (specks) and one of the highest largemouth bass catch rates in the state. The best speck fishing occurs during winter months drifting over open water, particularly in the northeast and southwest corners. Predominant aquatic vegetation includes spadderdock (bonnets), bulrush (buggy whips), cattail, and pondweed (pepper grass). Kissimmee grass on the south end is particularly productive when there is flow into the Istokpoga Canal. This canal, located off County Highway 621, provides excellent largemouth bass fishing from the bank when the gates are open. Arbuckle and Josephine Creek mouths are also good areas when there is flow. The island areas and associated grass can hold bass any time of year and the deepest portion of the lake (10 ft) is in the southwest corner. Public boat ramps are located on the north, northeast, and southwest shorelines off of U.S. Route 98, Lake Boulevard off Cow House Road, and Highland Lake Drive off of County Route 621, respectively. There are also six fish camps/resorts on the lake with various accommodations. Anglers can wade fish off of the Cow House Road boat ramp.
For more information contact Henderson's Fish Camp at 863/465-2101, or Cypress Isle RV Park & Marina at 863-465-5241.
Special Regulations for Largemouth Bass on Lake Istokpoga. A slot limit protects quality largemouth bass by requiring that all bass between 15 and 24 inches in length must be immediately released back into the lake. The daily bag limit is three fish per day. Only one of the three fish may be greater than 24 inches. This means you may keep three bass less than 15 inches, or two bass less than 15 inches and one bass greater than 24 inches. For more information on the special regulations or tournament exemptions, contact Bill Pouder, or Jeff Willitzer at (863)648-3200.
Fishhound also offers a fishing forecast for Lake Istokpoga .
Bluegill (bream) and redear sunfish (shellcrackers) fishing has slowed, but fish can still be caught while fishing for black crappie (specks). Specks are really turning on with the cooler water temperatures. Drift live Missouri minnows and grass shrimp in open water, or troll with Napier deer hair jigs and Hal flies for schooling fish. Find areas with sandy bottoms around bulrush and cattails, and fish a grass shrimp under a cork for spawning fish. Henderson’s Cove and the north end of the lake are producing good numbers of specks on the outside edge of the pads and grasses near deeper water. Largemouth bass fishing can be tough, with cold fronts slowing the fishing on a regular basis. Slow working baits like plastic worms have been the bait of choice in Junebug and red shad colors. Live wild shiners are working about as well as artificial lures are right now. Bass will begin to spawn in late January, and will be moving into areas in and around bulrush (buggy whips) on the northern shoreline and the submerged vegetation in the channels south of Big Island and Bumblebee Island. Flipping these areas with soft plastics will be the best bet during the spawning season. Fishing for bass between the cold fronts can be very productive. Several bass larger than 8 pounds were entered over the past year in the TrophyCatch program, with one at 12.4 lbs documented by FWC Biologists. Lake Istokpoga currently leads the state with a total of 50 TrophyCatch submissions! Use caution when the wind blows on this shallow lake, it can get rough in a hurry.