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
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
The expansive areas of floating vegetation that made access, navigation, and fishing difficult on Orange Lake has begun to give way to open water scattered with lily pads and submersed vegetation that has traditionally dominated the lake’s habitat. Vegetation management strategies designed to restore access and improve fish habitat is responsible for some of this change, along with the help of a little time. As the quality of the lake’s habitat has improved, so has the quality and quantity of fishing reports. Fishing reports that were sparse for a several years are now becoming more regular for bream, Speckled Perch, and even Largemouth Bass that the lake was once well known for. Reports of large Bluegill caught off beds have been steadily rolling in. Bluegill will spawn through September with peaks in spawning activity during the full moons. Anglers should look for bedding bluegill with grass shrimp in shallow water areas throughout the lake, as well as portions of Cross Creek. Tales of big Largemouth Bass are also circulating with reports of large average sizes but low catch rates. The lily pads and hydrilla beds around McIntosh Bay are areas worth trying. Please visit www.Orangecreekbasin.wordpress.com for updates on habitat management plans and future meeting announcements.