It’s surprising that Lake George in central Florida isn’t known as “The Bomb” among the state’s fishing lakes. That’s because there is actually an operational U.S. Military bombing range in the Ocala National Forest just west of the lake. In fact, there is a designated bombing range in the lake itself that goes back to WWII when the Navy had targets there. But relax, the bombing doesn’t go on at the lake anymore. Lake George is a broad, shallow, brackish lake on the St. Johns River. It is six miles wide at the widest point and is about 11 miles long. The average depth is about eight feet. The lake is popular for largemouth and striped bass fishing, black crappie and all kinds of sunfish. The bass aren’t as big as some Florida trophy lakes, but it’s not uncommon to bring in six to eight pounders and the overall population of fish on the lake is excellent. The lake also has some interesting history, dating back to the royal botanist to King George III, John Bartram. He explored the area back in the 1700’s and named it Lake George after his King. The 46,000 acre lake is the second largest lake in Florida behind Lake Okeechobee and is often referred to as Lake Welaka. Lake George is curiously without much vegetation, which is an oddity for Florida lakes. There are some weed beds, reeds and grass along the shorelines, but not out in the lake. Anglers also find that the lake is almost void of depth variations like most lakes. Other than the normal sloping drops along the lake’s shore, the middle of the lake is almost flat in contour. The lake is also brackish, which means the salt levels are high. There are even some parts of the lake that provide a significant crab fishery.
As you explore Lake George, one of the most noticeable amounts of structure are leftover pilings that offer some great bass fishing. These are parts of the old bombing range. There are three clusters of pilings laid out in a circular pattern in the lake on the eastern side toward the north. There is even an old ship sunk there in the middle. That area is a hotspot for crappie anglers just about all year long. A popular area is also the Nine Mile Point. Bass fishing is good here along the pilings with plastic worms rigged in Texas-rig or Carolina-rig fashion. Darker colors seem to work well in the brackish water. You’ll also find some good mixes of eelgrass and reeds along the bank here, which is good for bass fishing. Anglers use spinnerbaits, worms and even spoons to bring bass out of the grass. Many anglers find the east side of the lake the easiest to fish, not just because of plenty of structure, but it’s also more protected from the winds coming in off the coast. The area is also known for its big beds of shellcracker bream and big bluegills, especially in the summer. One thing anglers should note along the Western shoreline is there are some off-limits areas for fishing along the west side. About two-thirds of the way down the bank, there is an area from Silver Glen Spring Run to Juniper Point where this is well marked and well enforced. There are three creeks entering the lake from this side and they are good for bass fishing. Anglers find the fish congregated here after heavy rains when the current moves fish to the mouths to feed. Striped bass are also caught here when the fish make runs up the creeks. Further south, from the mouth of Juniper to Volusia Bar is a good spot for bass and crappie. Boaters should be careful around areas like this where submerged pilings can be hazardous.
The lake is way out in the middle of nowhere in the Ocala National Forest, about 25 miles east of Ocala and about 25 miles west of Daytona Beach. That offers fishermen a secluded type of fishing not often found in this state’s busy bodies of water. The largest communities nearby include Astor, Georgetown, Salt Springs, Pierson and Volusia. The town of Crescent City is only 15 minutes East of Lake George and has ample facilities for overnight stays. While it’s a short drive to find anything else to do besides fish, you can make a side trip to Ocala, Daytona Beach or even Palatka to the north and find plenty of entertainment, a large selection of restaurants and all kinds of accommodations. Public access to Lake George can be obtained from Blue Creek Road to Lake George Road off of Highway 40. Private access to Lake George can be obtained from Pine Island Fish Camp, Georgetown Marina & Lodge or the Volusia Bar Fish Camp.