St Johns River – Upper Basin Guide


Blue Cypress Lake to Titusville


In addition to largemouth, sunshine bass (hybrid of a female white bass and a male striped bass), can be found in the Upper Basin.


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.

St Johns River, considered a blackwater stream because it is principally fed by swamps and marshes, is the longest river in Florida and flows north. A “lazy” river with a long backflow and tides that ebb and flow from the barrier islands and up the channel, the waters gradually turn from freshwater to brackish near the Atlantic where the river ends. Over 3,500 lakes lie within the overall St. Johns River watershed.

In the Upper Basin – which is counterintuitively the furthest south, the waters are all freshwater.  The Upper Basin stretches from the headwaters on Blue Cypress Lake, about 30 miles west of Vero Beach, north to Titusville. The nearest airport is Orlando International, a 40-minute drive to Lake Poinsett, an easy access point.


Lake Poinsett: best for largemouth bass anglers looking for a trophy in the winter.
Lake Winder: best for the quantity of largemouth bass.
Taylor Creek: largemouth bass and crappie all year round.
Lake Hell N Blazes: the stretch of river between Lake Hell N Blazes to Lake Sawgrass is highly productive for largemouth bass, crappie, and bluegill. It’s accessible from Melbourne and best when the hydrilla coverage is low.

Crappie can be found year-round in the Upper Basin. Shad are most abundant in the winter months as they travel upriver to spawn.


Swampy and marshy, the river is narrow and unpredictable in the Upper Basin and is best navigated by airboat or personal watercraft; channel flows are not always apparent and often unmarked. It becomes navigable for larger boats in Lake Monroe near Sanford.

Live threadfin or shrimp can be effective bait, but artificial lures such as crankbaits, bucktail or feathered jigs, spinners and spoons also do well.

Check out the 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 a lake 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” of late summer to early spring is the best time for largemouth bass in the St Johns river. In the “wet season” of late spring and summer, the middle and upper basins tend to flood and bass will move to the marshy wetlands.

To keep up to date on Baitstick’s news and information for St Johns River and other top Florida fisheries sign up for the Baitstick newsletter.


Lake Florence Boat Ramp

Tucker Ln, Cocoa, FL

River Lakes Conservation Area Boat Ramp

8190 FL-520, Cocoa, FL


Fairfield by Marriott Inn & Suites Melbourne West/Palm Bay

La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Melbourne Viera


Riverside Cafe

Kilted Mermaid