Upper St. Johns River and Lakes

Brevard County

Upper St. Johns River and LakesThis 60-mile stretch of the St. Johns River is the southernmost headwaters where the tannin-stained river originates out of the vast marshes, swamps, water management areas and canal systems.  The river flows through a number of lakes ranging from 350 to 4,500 acres in size (Lake Hell'n Blazes, Lake Sawgrass, Lake Washington, Lake Winder and Lake Poinsett).  The river is not marked for navigation, flowing within a single channel downstream to Cocoa at which point the river becomes braided into multiple channels as the river flows across the floodplain downstream to Puzzle Lake. Water levels fluctuate around six feet annually between the dry (winter-spring) and wet season (late summer-early fall). These extreme annual water level changes can radically affect the physical dimension of the river, causing a less than 150 foot wide river to expand out over the flood plain and become several miles wide, changing the navigability of the river and the distribution of the fish. Most of the upper St. Johns River and lakes are surrounded by State-owned lands which makes it a very scenic environment for all users.

The "River ReturnsExternal Website is a high definition television show about the St. Johns River that will air in October on PBS. Meanwhile their Web site provides some excellent information about the river.

For further information, listings of fish camps, or ramp locations please contact our fisheries Regional Office in Ocala at 352-732-1225 or consult the Northeast Regional Freshwater Fishing Guide.Adobe PDF

Fishhound External Website also offers a fishing forecast for St. Johns River External Website.


TrophyCatchTrophyCatch Tracker

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 the St. Johns River:

Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 66

Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 15


Current Forecast:

Water levels are approaching bank full as of late September. If the water gets up into the marshes and pastures then fishing in the river may be a little slow while the water is high. Moving water usually stimulates feeding activity where the river enters and exits the lakes. Fishing in the river should heat up later in the quarter once the dry season sets in and water begins to recede and bring the bait fish in from the surrounding marshes. If water levels are still up through December, bass will move up into protected areas behind bulrushes and into wind protected coves as they prepare to spawn.  Bass fishing should be fair to good on lakes Washington, Winder, and Poinsett. Some excellent catches of bass were reported by local anglers on Lake Poinsett and Winder this quarter last year.

Crappie anglers should take fair numbers of fish by slow trolling artificials (small jigs and beetle spins) or by drifting with live minnows in the deeper, open water areas of lakes Poinsett, Winder, and Washington. Late in the quarter, crappie can also be found moving into and concentrating around bulrush patches, preferring those mixed with submerged and floating vegetation to provide overhead cover.  Deeper undercut bends in the middle river section between lakes Winder and Poinsett and the stretch between lakes Washington and Sawgrass can also be productive for crappie anglers this time of the year.


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