The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recently completed a large-scale aquatic habitat restoration effort on Lake Kissimmee, planting nearly 325,000 native aquatic plants to promote expansion of healthy fish and wildlife habitat.

The 34,948-acre Lake Kissimmee is 40 miles south of Orlando in Osceola and Polk counties and is a popular location for anglers targeting largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish and black crappie. The lake is also a historical hunting lake and wildlife viewing destination for locals and visitors to the state of Florida. Lake Kissimmee is home to several threatened and endangered species, including the Everglade snail kite.

In recent years, Lake Kissimmee’s aquatic grass and bulrush beds have been in decline due to grazing by exotic apple snails, hurricanes and artificially stabilized water levels.

This project will enhance and stimulate growth of these historically important grasses. Benefitting fish, wildlife, anglers, hunters and wildlife viewers.

The FWC successfully planted 180,000 maidencane, 68,000 paspalidium (both grass species are commonly known as Kissimmee grass) and over 76,000 bulrush plants in the northern, western and eastern shorelines at a cost of $500,000. Plantings were concentrated around local landmarks known to anglers and other recreational boaters on the lake, including North Cove, Lemon Point, the School Bus area and Jack’s Slough.

The bulrush and native grasses were planted in 2-3 feet of water during naturally low water levels (on average 50-feet NGVD). The planted areas will be in 5-6 feet of water during high pool stage. This deeper fish and wildlife habitat will provide additional angling and wildlife viewing opportunities, as well as provide perching, nesting and foraging habitat for the Everglade snail kite.

This work aligns with the FWC Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat Management Plan, which was developed with input from a combination of stakeholders. One of the objectives in this plan is to increase native submersed and emergent aquatic vegetation through revegetation efforts to compete with and reduce coverage of invasive plant species.

For more information about this project, contact Adriene Landrum with the FWC’s Aquatic Habitat Conservation and Restoration Section at 407-846-5269. For general waterbody information, fishing forecasts, virtual tours, plant control operation schedules and annual workplans, boat ramp information, and more, visit the “What’s Happening on My Lake” website at

Stay in touch with our local fishing scene. Tune in to Reel Talk, Saturday mornings on ESPN SWFL.

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Florida Has 3 Of The Top 10 Bass Fishing Lakes In The Country

The state of Florida continues to show as a top destination for fishing in the latest “Top 10 Best Bass Lakes of 2023.” The annual rankings come from the highly regarded Bassmaster. Theyshow that when it comes to bass fishing lakes, Florida is a clear choice. And with winter approaching in the north, many will be flocking down here to Florida to fish.

In a press release, Roger Young, FWC Executive Director stated,  “We take a tremendous amount of pride in managing our freshwater fisheries. The recognition of multiple Florida waterbodies in the Best Bass Lakes is a testament to our commitment to preserve the well-being of our aquatic ecosystems while promoting recreational fishing in Florida,”

Fishing is a big part of the Florida lifestyle. Whether you’re out in the gulf fishing for grouper, or just passing the time at the retention pond at your Fort Myers condo. People here love to fish. But sometimes you want to hit a lake and do some bass fishing. Fortunately for us, 3 of the top 10 lakes in the U.S. for catching bass are right here in Florida.

If you’re up for a road trip, number one on the Bassmaster list is the O.H. Ivie Lake. The lake is a reservoir on the Colorado and Concho Rivers, 55 miles east of San Angelo, Texas. The reservoir was formed when a dam was built in 1990. They’re seeing a lot of double digit bass being pulled from there this year. Some of these spots will be best if you wait until spring. Do your research, but here’s some ideas to get you started.

Here’s the Florida lakes that made the top 10.

  • 5. Fellsmere Reservoir

    Sometimes known as Headwaters Lake or Lake Egan, this is a 10,000-acre manmade lake in Indian River county. This place was made to be a bass fishing lake with underwater features and am ideal habitat.  Recommended lures are topwater lures and weedless soft plastic jerkbaits or stickbaits. When the lake was originally flooded, it was stocked with 1,000,000 Florida bass.

    Fellsmere Reservoir

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  • 8. Orange Lake

    Orange Lake


    This lake is 20 miles southeast of Gainesville. A lot of vegetation on this lake, making some areas inaccessible. The deeper areas are good fishing for largemouth bass. This lake also features a handicap-accessible pier with a fish attractor to provide for good fishing.

    Orange Lake

    Orange Lake Public Fishing Pier, 5041 NW 191st Pl, Reddick, FL 32686

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    Orange Lake

  • 10. Lake Okeechobee

    Lake Okeechobee lilies

    In the Seminole language, this literally means ‘big water’. Because Lake O is so heavily affected by rainfall, it’s levels vary. The current restriction “For largemouth bass only one may be 16 inches or longer in total length per angler per day, with no minimum length limit. The bag limit remains the same, at five.” Because the releases of Lake O always make negative headlines here in SWFL, it’s easy to forget that it’s a really good spot for bass fishing. 

    Lake Okeechobee, Florida

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    Some Florida lakes that just missed the top 10. 

  • Lake Tohopekaliga

    Lake Tohopekaliga

    Twin Oaks Conservatory at Lake Tohpekaliga Osceola County

    Lake Toho is an 18,810-acre lake located southeast of the city of Kissimmee. The FWC has installed fish attractors, so check here for locations of the best spots. 

    Lake Tohopekaliga

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  • Lake Seminole

    A reservoir at the juncture of the Florida, Georgia, and Alabama state lines. 80% of this lake is in Georgia, but Florida fishers can fish up to an imaginary line. More details on that here. Beautiful place.

    Lake Seminole

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  • Lake Placid

    Lake Placid has 27 freshwater lakes. Cool small town. I like it because it’s not too far from here. My neighbor has a place on one of those lakes and it’s a really nice change of pace from Southwest Florida. 

    Lake Placid, FL 33852

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  • Lake Panasoffkee

    This place is more well known for it’s trails, but four spring-fed creeks enter the lake which provides for some solid bass fishing. Bass as big as 8 pound on up to double digits. Just to the northwest of Orlando.

    Lake Panasoffkee, FL 33538

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  • Lake Istokpoga

    Lake Istokpoga is five miles northeast of Lake Placid. There’s fishing resorts on the lake with accomadations. Excellent largemouth bass fishing can be done from the bank near the canal. 

    Lake Istokpoga

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  • Lake Rousseau

    West of Ocala, this is a man made reservoir on the Withlacoochee River. A real old Florida feel out here. You might even see a manatee. 

    Lake Rousseau

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  • Rodman Reservoir

    Lake Rodman

    This one comes as a recommendation from Captain Debbie Hanson, host of ESPN Reel Talk Radio. This man made lake is a premier largemouth bass fishery located in Putnam County in Northeast Florida. North of Ocala. 

    Rodman Reservoir

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Joe Winner spends his days combing through memes and off beat stories to bring you the side of Florida not always seen.

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