Looking for a social distancing-friendly activity? Check out these four fantastic fishing spots in and near Orlando. Whether you enjoy bank fishing, have your own bass boat, or dream of battling a wily Atlantic marlin, you can escape the crowds at these top Central Florida fishing locales. Make sure you have a current fishing license, and check each locality to ensure boat ramps, fishing piers, and beaches are currently open to the public if you plan on using them.
The Butler Chain of Lakes for Largemouth Bass
Located in southwest Orlando, the Butler Chain of Lakes – also known as the Windermere Chain – consists of 12 lakes interlinked by a canal system, and is an acclaimed Orlando fishing destination. Covering around 5,000 acres there’s plenty of room to spread out among Lakes Butler, Tibet, Down, Little Down, Sheen, Louise, Chase, Pocket, Blanche, Wauseon Bay, Isleworth, and Little Fish. The Butler chain provides excellent largemouth bass fishing – particularly in early spring. You can also hook black crappie, bluegill and redear sunfish (shellcracker) in these waters.
For boat access, head to the Lake Isleworth county ramp in R.D. Keene Park (10900 Chase Road, Windermere). You can also get onto the water from the Lake Down free public ramp, but there is no public parking here. If the bass aren’t striking, you can pass the time admiring the beautiful luxury homes that line the shores. However, because these lakes are surrounded by so much private residential development, bank fishing is virtually nonexistent.
West Lake Tohopekaliga for Bass, Sunfish & Crappie
Also called Lake Toho, this fishing hot spot is known for the trophy-size bass lurking beneath the 22,000-acre reed-covered surface. You’ll also reel in sunfish, crappie, and maybe even catfish, bluegill, and the occasional gar. If you have a boat, you can launch it from Big Toho Marina, (69 Lakeview Drive, Kissimmee) next to Kissimmee Lakefront Park, or the Granada Public Boat Ramp (2563 Ridgeway Drive, Kissimmee). Alternatively, you can fish off the pier at Lakefront Park, along the natural peninsula, and even off the extended boardwalk near the marina.
The Space Coast for Beach & Ocean Fishing (Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach & Titusville)
Less than an hour’s drive from Orlando, the Atlantic waters of the Space Coast offer the chance to battle everything from spotted seatrout and redfish to snook, tarpon, monster sharks, and much more inshore (in waters less than 100 feet deep). There’s also mahi mahi, wahoo, tuna, marlin, and even sailfish in the deeper ocean waters.
Cape Canaveral’s multiple marinas and easy access to open water make it very popular for anglers, while Port Canaveral offers great surf fishing from the beach or pier fishing at Jetty Park. Free public boat ramps are available at Rodney S. Ketcham Park and Freddie Patrick Park. The waters of the Indian River around Titusville are a mecca for redfish, with schools of 100 or more up to 12 pounds in size, regularly visible in the flats. The historic Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier stretches 800 feet out over the ocean for fishing, and Cocoa Beach’s Thousand Islands mangroves also offer many peaceful, shaded spots to cast a line from shore or even from a kayak out on the water.
Lake Harris for Bass & Panfish
Head northwest around from Orlando and in around 45 minutes you’ll reach the deep waters of Lake Harris. You can fish both Big and Little Lake Harris for largemouth and striped bass, catfish black crappie, and various panfish. The distance from the city provides added solitude, and with 40 miles of shoreline for fishing and recreation and almost 14,000 acres of water, it’s not hard to find your ideal spot. Bank fishing is available from a number of parks, campgrounds, and boat launch ramp areas, including Venetian Gardens Park (109 E. Dixie Ave. Leesburg) and the Lake Harris Boat Ramps (27341 State Route 19, Tavares).
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