Florida Fishing Regions

Marion County Lakes

Lake Bryant

Covers 767 acres in the Ocala National Forest but is not managed by the U. S. Forest Service. Public access is available at the Lake Bryant Fish Camp on 183rd Ave. off S.R.40 (fee ramp). The water is tea-colored with a narrow border of grasses and lily pads around most of the shoreline. Seasonal fishing for bass, bluegill and shellcracker is good. Speckled perch fishing varies considerably. Live bait and artificial lures fished near vegetated areas are good for bass and bream. Live grass shrimp is a good choice for bluegill and small bass.

Lake Kerr

2,830 acres near Salt Springs in the northern section of the Ocala National Forest. As with Lake Bryant, the lake is not managed by the U. S. Forest Service. Access is via a GFC boat ramp off Forest Road 88 just south of the intersection of C.R.316 and FR88. Kerr is an unusual Florida lake in that water depth reaches more than 20 feet at normal water level. Most bass are less than 14 inches in length, but this lake has a reputation for producing a few trophy-size fish. Bullhead minnows (stonerollers) are commonly used as live bait instead of shiners for bass in the spring and fall. Live grass shrimp and worms are good baits for shellcracker and bluegill. Warmouth fishing is best during late spring and early summer in shallow water very close to vegetated banks. Three brush fish attractors are marked with buoys.

Lake Weir

This 5,685-acre lake near Belleview and Weirsdale has public access available through a GFC ramp off C.R. 25 and county ramp off Sunset Harbor Road. Another deep lake for central Florida, Lake Weir is over 20 feet deep at normal water level. A narrow band of grass grows along much of the shore and beds of pondweed occur to depths of 1012 feet. Common techniques are good for bass, and many anglers prefer to troll live shiners in deep waters near the shore. Other bass anglers use live bait in the deepest waters in the middle of the lake. Shellcracker fishing is excellent during March and April for the angler willing to locate small concentrated schools holding fish up to one pound. Brush fish attractors have been placed at 10 sites in 10 to 20 feet of water. A depth finder is very useful to locate structures, pondweed beds and fish in open waters.

Rainbow River

A 5.8-mile tributary of the Withlacoochee River near Dunnellon. Public access is available at the S.R. 41 bridge in Dunnellon and K.P. Hole (a county park east of S.R. 41). The river is closed to fishing from the spring headwaters to a point one mile downstream of the spring. The water is very clear and fish easily can be seen, even in deep springs. Bass, bluegill, and shellcracker populations are good. Trophy bass and large shellcracker are not uncommon. Clear water fishing techniques are necessary for good results, i.e., fish during low light conditions, use light line, and avoid being visible to the fish.

Oklawaha River

Near the confluence of the Oklawaha and Silver rivers, the Marion County portion of the river becomes a winding, tree-canopied stream that continues to Lake Ocklawaha (Rodman Reservoir). Access is available at a private fee ramp at Nelson's Fish Camp at S.R. 42, Moss Bluff public ramps upstream and downstream of the Lock and Dam, at C.R. 464, Ray Wayside Park at S.R. 40, Gore's Landing east of S.R. 315, Eureka ramps on C.R. 316 east and west of bridge, Rodman Ramp downstream of Rodman Dam and S.R. 19 Ramp north of Salt Springs. Bass fishing is good along all areas of the river, but is best during February, March, and April. Redbreast and spotted sunfish are good in unchannelized areas.

Lake Eaton

308 acres in the Ocala National Forest off C.R. 314A. There are three fishing piers provided by the U. S. Forest Service; one pier is handicapped-accessible. A small boat ramp will accommodate most vessels up to bass boat category. Eaton is deeply tannin-stained, shallow and supports vast stands of lily pads. Bluegill, warmouth, and black crappie are common sport fish. Bass fishing is fair for small fish with an occasional keeper taken. Many bank anglers fish just downstream of the C.R. 314 bridge for warmouth, bluegill and spotted sunfish.

Lake Jumper

A 282-acre, shallow, tannin-stained lake in the Ocala National Forest, about three miles north of S.R.40 on C.R.314. A private fee ramp is the only boat access. Small boats are advised. The lake is not known as a good bass lake, but occasional lunkers are produced.

Mill Dam Lake

A 21 0-acre lake in the Ocala National Forest, seven miles east of Silver Springs on S.R. 40. An improved boat ramp with paved parking and picnic area are provided by the U. S. Forest Service (fee charged). Good catches of bass, bluegill and speckled perch make it a popular lake for anglers. Normal water depths are greater than average for Ocala National Forest. Vegetation is confined to a shallow ledge around much of the shore. During drought, water levels recede past this vegetation and leave an open-water lake.

Sellers Lake

A 378-acre lake south of S.R. 40 just west of S.R. 19. An unmaintained boat ramp provides small boat access during normal water level conditions. The water is very clear with limited vegetation. Most bass are small and slow-growing, but an occasional trophy is caught. The clear water may hamper fishing success since angler and fish can see each other. Live bait fished with light line at dusk or dawn is best for bass. Some anglers prefer to troll live bait near grassy edges for bass. Crickets, worms, and grass shrimp on a small hook and four- to six-pound monofilament are good for bluegill, warmouth, and shellcracker. Casting to the fish, rather than dropping the bait straight down to fish will produce better results.

Other Forest Lakes

There are approximately 600 natural lakes within the boundaries of the Ocala National Forest. A booklet titled "Fishing Opportunities in the Ocala National Forest" by the Ocala National Forest Interpretive Association is available at the Visitors Welcome Center at the intersection of S.R. 40 and C.R. 314.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 10 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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