Central Florida Fishing

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Posted by jd on December 09, 2004 at 10:47:14:

I just returned from an adventure that begin on Thanksgiving day and ended a few days ago. I have driven 2385 miles, many of which were towing a boat. During the 700 miles trip each way to Orlando, I had 3 children under 5 years old in the back seat. The main purpose was for my sister in law's wedding, but I had fishing in mind. I am exhausted.

Florida fish do not jump in the boat any more than Tennessee River chain fish do. The two hurricanes that passed through the area have literally sucked out much of the hydrilla and lilly pads in the lakes about 90 miles south of Orlando. Toho is close to Orlando and still had a good stand of hydrilla. I fished Toho, Jackson, Blue Cypress, and Kenansville. The latter two are near the "famous" Stick Marsh, but I never made it. I was anticipating a trip with a gentlemen that I met on NAFF and fished with when he was visiting Alabama. As luck would have it, he was having vehicular problems and then the weather did not cooperate by the time he had things squared away. Maybe next time.

I learned many things, a few of which are:

1. Most of the lakes in Florida are accessible via dirt/sand roads. It is hard on your vehicle and equipment! Everything will be white after each trip.

2. 10 feet deep is considerably deep water. It is sometimes hard to figure out where the land stops and the water begins. It is weird to run on plane through big clumps of grass. It seems that the fish are easily spooked in the shallow water since the hydrilla/pads are missing in many places.

3. Big alligators are everywhere. I felt like I was on a wild kingdom show. Lake Jackson is 1,000 acres and is catch and release only. I was the only person on the water and surrounded by 10-12 foot gators in just about every direction most of the time. When fishing canals, gators were splashing down in front of me most of the way. Surely that has to spook the fish!

4. Towing a boat this distance is hard on it. My boats has lots of new character marks and the cover is just about a total loss. I bought this 20' jon boat just for such an occasion.

5. Finding a place to park a boat with electricity available to charge batteries is no easy task. The one thing I never searched the internet for was "fishing camps." If going just to fish, this is your best bet. I lucked out and found an outside outlet on the building of the resort I stayed in and ran my cord late at night.

If you ever plan a fishing trip to central Florida, drop me a line and maybe I can provide some advice... at least with resources. As for catching fish, I caught less than a handful of green fish with a best of about 4 pounds coming off at the boat. I never found any crappie. Lake Jackson has a 12 inch limit so if you catch one, it should be a good one!? I was going to hire guide Jim Porter for crappie/bass, but he was booked solid for several weeks in advance.

I was hoping to get some good jack and crappie reports upon my return, but found only that is has rained a half a foot and everything is flooded! I had heard that jacks were moving up just before I left on Thanksgiving. The flood gates won't stop them, but water like coffee is not good!!

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