Santa Rosa County
Bear Lake is a 107-acre man-made impoundment constructed in 1959, opened to fishing in 1961, and designated as a Fish Management Area. The lake has an average depth of 8 feet with a maximum depth of 23 feet. Deepest areas are located near the dam and along the old streambed. A considerable amount of flooded timber remains, providing fish habitat. This lake has been stocked with Largemouth Bass, Bluegill, Redear Sunfish (shellcracker), Black Crappie, Hybrid Striped Bass, and Channel Catfish. Bear Lake is located in northeast Santa Rosa County with in the Blackwater State Forest, approximately 2 miles east of Munson, FL on SR 4. A dual-launch concrete boat ramp is located within the Bear Lake Campground. Ample parking, a handicapped accessible fishing pier, and an informational kiosk are located near this ramp. The Florida Forest Service maintains the campground, which includes bath/restroom facilities, along with camping and picnic areas. The Florida Forest Service charges a $2.00/car fee to all persons entering the Bear Lake Campground area. Two primitive dirt boat landings are accessible from Hurricane Lake Rd. and are not currently subject to this fee. A limited number of small jon-boats and canoes are available to rent from DOF for use on the lake. Information regarding these rentals can be obtained by calling 850-957-6140. Bear Lake is subject to the rules and regulations currently in effect for Fish Management Areas. Please refer to a current copy of Florida Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations. Gasoline boat motors are prohibited from use on Bear Lake; however, use of electric trolling motors is allowed.
For additional information regarding fishing opportunities at Bear Lake contact Blackwater Fisheries Center in Holt, Fl. Phone 850-957-6175.
See also our Fish Management Area Brochure and Map for Bear Lake.
TrophyCatchis 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 Bear Lake:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 1
Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 1
The days may be getting shorter, but that doesn’t mean you have any less time to fish Bear Lake. As the blazing summer heat subsides, anglers can begin to move away from the early morning/late evening, summer routine. Weather patterns are crucial during this time of year. Cold fronts will push fish into deeper water, while the warm days following these systems often cause fish to seek forage in shallower areas. Anglers should look for shallow water habitats located adjacent to steep drop-offs. Such areas provide a deep-water refuge during cold snaps with easy access to forage during the subsequent, warmer days. A key to success this time of year is to be observant of weather conditions and adjust your fishing strategies, lures, and presentations based on these observations.
Look for largemouth bass activity to increase as the cooler temperatures draw them out of their deep-water refuge. These fish can be targeted along the shoreline and around flooded timber with floater-diver type lures or dark colored plastic worms. Fish along drop-offs with medium diving crank baits or Rat-L-Traps to catch bass transitioning between deep and shallow water habitats. Under the new, statewide regulation effecting Black Bass species, Bear Lake should provide a good number of harvestable individuals for your weekend fish-fries. Please reference the new state regulation booklet (released July 1, 2016) for a detailed and updated description of this year’s regulations.
Bluegill and redear sunfish (shellcracker) will be moving off their beds, but can still be targeted using traditional methods. Much like bass, these fish will be moving between shallow and deep-water areas based on changing weather patterns. Fish these areas with red worms, wigglers, or crickets. Artificial baits such as beetle spins, roostertails, or curley-tailed grubs can also be an effective method for tempting a hungry panfish.
As always, catfish will be hard pressed to resist a juicy beef or chicken liver. Fish these baits on the bottom, in deep water off the fishing pier or near the dam. If you have trouble keeping messy livers on the hook, try wrapping it in surgical gauze or pantyhose, but make sure you stretch the fabric to allow a nice odor to draw these fish in.