This 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 Returns" 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.
Fishhound also offers a fishing forecast for St. Johns River .
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
Water levels in the upper St. Johns River basin are generally their lowest this time of the year but abnormally higher rainfall this winter has levels higher to start this quarter. Expect good fishing success in the river sections between Lakes Winder and Poinsett (Middle River), Washington to Helen Blazes, and from SR 520 to Puzzle Lake. Shallow draft or smaller boats typically have an easier time navigating sand bars and secondary channels in the river than their larger counterparts this time of the year. Largemouth bass and panfish (bluegill, redear sunfish, spotted sunfish, redbreast sunfish, and warmouth) should be concentrated throughout the deeper portions of the river. Anglers should target the edges of floating vegetation along banks, sharp bends and drop-offs near shallow bars. Traditional methods for taking all species will work. Many bass anglers who fish this area prefer to swim plastic worms and jerk baits or twitch shallow-running minnow imitations for bass. Fly-fishing with a surface popper is another rewarding way to catch both bass and panfish in these sections of the river.
With water levels up, lakes Poinsett and Winder would be a top choice for bass/panfish in the chain. Anglers should focus their efforts along the outer edges of the bulrushes, emergent grasses and lilies.