Florida is one of the best states in America for fishing trips, thanks to being surrounded by the ocean and having tons of freshwater fishing lakes, rivers and reservoirs. If you want to go on a freshwater fishing trip to Florida, you’re spoiled for choice. There are lots of very popular spots that have great opportunities for catching trophy fish, but they can be more crowded as a result. If you want to have a more quiet fishing trip, you should look into these more secluded lakes for your trip.
Harris Chain of Lakes
The Harris Chain of Lakes used to be one of the most popular freshwater fishing spots in Florida, with major fishing tournaments and some of most fishing visitors every year. That all ended two decades ago when it got hit hard by a widely publicized decline in fishing population — catch rates plummeted, the fishing tournaments moved elsewhere, and the number of annual visitors dropped as well. What makes them underrated for freshwater fishing now is that they have recovered significantly over the previous decade.
After a large drought there was a large drawdown of the water levels, which helped revitalize sprawling miles of eelgrass, lily pads, and other shoreline vegetation. Fishing officials and local fishermen helped this effort by planting several acres of reeds to serve as cover for the still recovering fish population.
Since the recovery has been relatively recent, the Harris Chain of Lakes are still quiet compared to some of the more popular lakes. Lake Griffin is on the edge of the chain and was the hardest hit by the collapse of fish population, so it has also benefited the most by the recovery. You should find that it is the quietest, but has near equal quality fishing opportunities.
Near Tarpon Springs, Lake Tarpon is a smaller lake than the more popular freshwater lakes at 2,534 acres. It has a highly dense population of largemouth bass population, but has relatively low traffic due to being often overlooked by fishing tourists as a great destination — despite being consistently ranked as one of the 10 best lakes for bass fishing by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
It has lots of weeds around the shoreline and good public piers for good bank fishing, plush bulrush, cattail, and tape grass beds if you go out on a boat. While largemouth bass is the main species sought after for fishing, it also has a good number of bluegill, redear sunfish, and black crappie fish as well.
It’s hard to think of a lake in the middle of a big city like Orlando as underrated, but the truth is that Lake Ivanhoe doesn’t get enough credit. Maybe it is because Ivanhoe is a small 125 acre lake surrounded by the noise and scenery of a city rather than the silence and scenery of nature. Regardless, in the last decade it has seen some of the best catch rates for largemouth bass in all of Florida, with half a dozen other fish species to catch.
So if you are flying into Florida through Orlando for a vacation you should consider spending a day at Lake Ivanhoe the last day before you fly out as a nice way to wrap up your trip. There are good spots from the bank with surprisingly deep waters, and it is not unheard of to get a 10+ lb largemouth bass even if it isn’t common.
Not far outside of Orlando, Lawne Lake is similar to Lake Ivanhoe due to its proximity to a major city, and for having one of the highest catch rates in Florida. However, it has the added benefit of having more serene and natural surroundings, and being a bit larger. It has a public pier that can be used, and in general has excellent spots along the banks for largemouth bass fishing. One of the best spots is on the bank by the boat ramp.
In addition to largemouth bass, Lawne Lake is also well stocked for fishing bluegill, shellcracker, and sunshine bass. The sunshine bass are replenished annually. It is also one of the better lakes for night fishing, so during the hotter months you can take advantage of fishing during cooler times of the day.
Falling Waters State Park
The Falling Waters State park has a tiny little three-acre lake for fishing, but still has some good spots to fish for bass, catfish and bream. It is a more shallow lake but you will likely be able to spend a good amount of time at one of the good fishing spots all to yourself. Its small size makes it very underrated as a fishing spot, but what makes Falling Waters a true hidden gem is what else the park has to offer.
Falling Waters has the highest waterfall in Florida at 73 feet, and can be heard from a hundred yards away. The park has excellent camping, hiking, and swimming spots as well, with natural sinkholes, archaeological digs and tons of history to explore. You can have a great family trip and still get in good quality fishing of your own in the early mornings while surrounded by some of the most beautiful parks in the state.
Steven Seigel is the owner of Ultimate Fishing Charters in Miami. He has been providing clients access to the highest quality luxury fishing charters nationwide, and have a love for travel. Steven has worked with a wide array of world travellers including fishermen, families, first timers, corporate groups, VIPs and celebrities. He went from specializing only in day charters, to higher-end multi-day charters in a number of exotic locations and offers the most exclusive fishing & diving packages available around the world. Steven love to share his travel advice and stories with the novice and more advanced adventure seeker, and hope to continue doing it for many years to come.