ST JOHNS RIVER – MIDDLE BASIN
Econlockhatchee River to Lake George
The St. Johns River, fed by dark water swamps and marshes and crystal-clear springs, is the longest river in Florida, connecting over 3,500 lakes in its watershed. It is home to more than 180 species of fish, 55 of which appear in the main stem of the river. The Middle Basin is renowned for its high catch rate of largemouth bass and crappie.
Located in central Florida, the St. Johns River winds through 12 counties as a broad waterway before emptying into the Atlantic. It is categorized into three watershed “basins” – Upper, Middle and Lower.
The Middle Basin, the shortest of the basins at 37 miles long, begins in east-central Florida where the river widens after it is joined by the Econlockhatchee River, one of 3 major tributaries of the St. Johns, and more than 100 springs.
The Middle Basin runs through Ocala National Forest and Lake George, the largest lake found on the St. Johns River. Other lakes in the area include lakes Monroe, Harney and Jesup. It is generally wider than the Upper Basin and therefore considered easier to navigate.
Lake George is an hour drive from Daytona International Airport, and an hour and forty minutes from Orlando International. Lake Monroe is an hour from Orlando.
Lake George, the second largest lake in Florida and part of the Middle Basin watershed, is shallow and brackish. Used in the 1940s as a bombing range on the western side, old ordnance and submerged docks often hold caches of bass in the 5-7 pound range.
The eastern side of Lake George is more protected and offers easier shore access. Spinner baits and spoons can be effective here. Striped bass can sometimes be found on the western side.
Lake Monroe is considered one of the best locations for abundant trophy largemouth bass on the St. Johns River watershed. Shiner bait is good in shallow waters on the Sanford side of the lake during the peak spawning months of January, February and March. Soft plastic baits, such as flukes or plastic worms can be effective. Underwater structures, drop off areas, and docks are known to hold quality largemouths.
Check out Baitstick Box – Florida to get the basics needed for a day on the St Johns River. Experienced anglers and professional guides have weighed in on the gear inside the Baitstick Box specifically assembled for Florida. Seasoned anglers can resupply with essentials and new anglers can fish the river right out of the box.
All fishing is local and Baitstick is committed to bringing you products to make your next fishing trip the best trip.
The “dry season” from late summer/fall to mid-spring typically brings cooling water temperatures and spawning bass. With the “wet season” from late spring to late summer, the middle and upper basins of the St. Johns River are prone to seasonal flooding. Largemouth bass tend to move into the marshy wetlands.
During the winter months, much of the manatee population in Florida retreats to the tributary of Blue Spring and protected warm waters. Fishing is not permitted in the area during the spring run.
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WHERE TO STAY
Comfort Inn & Suites Orlando North
Hampton Inn & Suites Lake Mary at Colonial Town Park
WHERE TO EAT:
Fire on the Bayou
Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe
St. Johns River Steak and Seafood