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Ocala/Marion County is truly a freshwater angler’s paradise.
Home to numerous lakes, rivers and fishing spots teeming with a variety of species, the destination is the perfect place to cast your line and kick back amongst the natural surroundings of real Florida. Read on for some of the best local spots throughout the area, then pack your tackle box and get ready to cast away!
Located south of Palatka off of Hwy 19, The Rodman Reservoir is listed as one of the premier largemouth bass fisheries in Northeast Florida. At about 15 miles long, it covers 9,500 acres and is home to a variety of species. In addition to trophy-sized largemouth bass, you’ll find bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie and catfish. The reservoir was first created in 1968 when an earthen dam was built across the Ocklawaha River. Due to a barge project that began in the late 60s and was later dismissed, a section of the pool reaches depths of 30 feet—providing plenty of submersed vegetation and cover areas perfect for producing big fish!
Located in the north section of the county, Orange Lake is one of the most well known fishing lakes in all of Florida. At nearly 13,000 acres, it is also one of the largest lakes in the North Central Region. The lake offers a handicap-accessible fishing pier at Heagy-Burry Park equipped with a fish attractor, providing excellent fishing for those without a boat. Out on the water, anglers can expect to find an average depth of 5.5 feet and a max depth of 12 feet, as well as extensive aquatic vegetation like spatterdock (lily pads) and hydrilla. Species found here include bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie, largemouth bass and catfish. Here’s a tip: Regulars to the lake report that the lunker bass that live in the deeper spatterdock love wild-shiners.
Doe Lake is a hidden gem nestled in the southwest corner of the Ocala National Forest. The Doe Lake Recreation Area is home to a historically restored 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps dining hall set atop a grassy hill overlooking the clear waters of the lake. The recreation center boasts a deep freezer for ice and a bathhouse with hot showers, making it perfect for anglers looking for an overnight fishing experience. Gravel boat ramps provide a direct launch into the lake with free parking and no launch fees.
The Ocklawaha River borders the Ocala National Forest on the west and north and is the largest tributary of the St. Johns River. Totaling 74-miles in length, the river is a popular place for fishing thanks to its natural condition, fallen trees, vegetation, deep holes and tree roots. Here, anglers can expect to find a wide variety of species including largemouth bass, channel catfish, bluegills, black crappies, fat spotted sunfish and redbreast sunfish, which only reside in rivers and creeks. Most of the river remains untouched by man, delivering a true taste of real Florida in the Ocklawaha backcountry. Multiple public boat ramps such as Moss Bluff off Highway 464, Ray Wayside Park off Highway 40 and Gores Landing off CR 415 can be found along the waterway.
Located in the north portion of the Ocala National Forest close to Eureka and Salt Springs, Lake Kerr boasts clear waters that are unlike most lakes in Florida – creating a beautiful scene for both fishing and water recreation. Anglers can enjoy boat ramp access and a fishing pier at Moorhead Park off Forest Road 88 in Fort McCoy as they set out to catch the panfish, bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie and catfish that reside here. Lake Kerr is one of the county’s largest lakes at 2,830 acres, and is 6 to 14 feet deep beneath its calm surface.
Whether you’re on the hunt for that trophy bass or simply looking to kick back with a line in the water, Ocala/Marion County sets the scene for a perfect day of fishing.