Orange Lake is the largest lake in the North Central Region at 12,550 acres. It is designated as a Fish Management Area and is located about 20 miles southeast of Gainesville. Orange Lake averages 5.5 feet deep with a maximum depth of 12 feet. Water levels fluctuate an average of 2 feet, annually. Outflow is controlled by a fixed-crest weir located at Highway 301 (southeast portion of lake). Orange Lake receives inflow from Newnans Lake through River Styx and from Lochloosa Lake through Cross Creek. Cross Creek (1.8 miles) is navigable to most boats during normal water levels.
Orange lake has an extensive aquatic vegetation community, dominated by spatterdock (lily pads) and periodically hydrilla. Shallow marsh areas are inaccessible to anglers due to the dense growth of vegetation. Bluegill, redear sunfish, black crappie and largemouth bass are generally caught in the deeper spatterdock, emergent grasses and hydrilla.
Marion County and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission allocated funds to establish a fishing pier at Heagy-Burry Park (southwestern part of the lake). The pier is handicap-accessible. A fish attractor is located near the pier, which provides for good fishing.
For updated information please call:
South Shore Fish Camp 352-595-4241
Sportsman Cove Fish Camp 352-591-1435
For information about the management of Orange Lake and its wildlife resources, visit the Orange Lake Management Page.
TrophyCatch is FWC's citizen-science program that rewards anglers for documenting and releasing trophy bass 8 pounds or larger. The following TrophyCatch bass have been submitted from Orange Lake:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 3
Orange Lake has been the destination of choice among local lakes for anglers seeking slab speckled perch. Although it seems it’s hit and miss on any given day, anglers that “hit” have been rewarded with limits of sizeable fish. One noteworthy catch from Orange Lake was reported to weigh over 3 pounds! Drifting or slow trolling jigs in open water has been the best approach. As the cool weather approaches, black crappie will move closer to shore into the pads and grasses around the lake to spawn, where grass shrimp and live minnows will be your best bet. Largemouth bass reports have been sparse lately, although those devoted to bass fishing on Orange Lake have managed to entice some quality fish. The emerging lily pad fields around Bird, Redbird, and McCormick Islands are areas worth trying. Much of this improvement in the quality of fishing on Orange Lake is due to the fact that the lake’s habitat has improved. Although the expansive areas of floating vegetation mats has given way to open water, anglers should still be mindful of shifting floating islands that can block boat ramps while on the lake, particularly during windy days. Boat ramps at Heagy Burry, Marjorie Keenan Rawlings, and Mikes Fish Camp are routinely monitored and shredded to maintain at least one access point open on each side of the lake. For those interested in FWC’s habitat management on Orange Lake, please visit Orangecreekbasin.wordpress.com for future meeting updates and management progress.