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
The expansive areas of floating vegetation caused by the extended drought that made access, navigation, and fishing difficult on Orange Lake has given way to open water scattered with lily pads that has traditionally dominated the lake’s habitat. Vegetation management strategies designed to restore access and improve habitat is responsible for some of this change, along with the help of a little time. Good fishing reports that were absent for a several years are now becoming more common for bream, speckled perch, and largemouth bass that the lake was once well known for. February and March in particular proved to be productive months for crappie and bass anglers. Local fishing clubs that added Orange Lake back into their tournament rotation resulted in respectable outcomes, and crappie anglers fishing the south end were rewarded with slabs, many whom filled their daily bag limits. More recently, the bluegill and redear fishing has begun to heat up, once again at the south end. Grass shrimp or live minnows are hard to beat while the panfish are spawning, which will continue through September. Collectively, these reports indicate that Orange Lake’s habitat and fisheries are recovering and trending towards the fishery it is known for. In the meantime, FWC is holding regular meetings to seek stakeholder input on future lake habitat management strategies. For those interested, please visit Orangecreekbasin.wordpress.com for future meeting updates and management progress.