If the answer is “no,” you might want to revise your vacation agenda.
Are you headed to Disney World or Universal Studios Orlando for a family vacation? If you are, and you enjoy fly fishing, you should seriously consider squeezing in some fly rodding for bass while you’re in the Orlando area.
The state of Florida is world renowned for its myriad fishing opportunities- Tarpon near Miami, Bonefish in the Keys, Redfish and Snook in the mangrove backwaters, and Largemouth Bass in the Everglades and Okeechobee… but don’t think you have to be in the vast Everglades or on the monstrous Lake Okeechobee to find excellent fishing for trophy bass.
Believe it or not, you can catch trophy Florida Largemouths in the shadows of the Magic Kingdom. Disney resorts even offer guided fishing excursions on their exclusive waters- including Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon. Although the guided trips include conventional tackle and bait, rumor has it that if you prefer fly fishing the guides will let you use your fly rod. Just be sure to take your fly rod as this won’t be an option for tackle provided to you.
If you’re a more budget minded fly fisher and prefer the do-it-yourself approach to exporing new waters, the Orlando area offers plenty for you too. There is plenty of public water in central Florida including Lake Tohopekaliga (“Toho” for short) and the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. Such large lakes can be intimidating for fly fishers, especially without a guide, so you may prefer a more intimate setting.
Lake Louisa State Park just outside of Orlando provides an ideal situation for fly fishers. The park’s namesake lake is still rather large for a fly fisher to tackle without a guide, but the park’s Hammond and Dixie Lakes are perfect for bass fly rodders. These two lakes are off limits to gasoline powered watercraft so you don’t have to compete with the big bass boats. Only trolling motors and unpowered craft are allowed. You will need a boat of some sort… you won’t be able to cast from the banks… and you can’t wade because the lakes are home to Alligators. Due to the presence of Alligators, swimming is not allowed in the lakes… so you can leave your float tube at home. You don’t have to worry about taking your own boat, because the state park offers canoe and kayak rentals.
If you’re thinking about camping as an alternative to the expensive resort hotels, Lake Louisa State Park also has a campground… that just happens to be located between Hammond Lake and Dixie Lake. The situation really couldn’t be any more convenient.
Hammond Lake and Dixie Lake are typical of many deep south bass lakes with lots of vegetation and shoreline cover. Casting large slider type flies with a stiff mono weed guard over the lotus pads can be extremely productive. Be sure to use heavy tippet… nothing lighter than 2X or 10 lb test. The lakes also have Bluegill that can be caught using smaller flies and poppers, and Chain Pickerel that may also take your bass bugs. The Pickerel are toothy critters much like their Northern Pike and Musky cousins and can easily shred flies and tippets. Be prepared to lose a few flies to the heavy cover or the Pickerel.
If you fly fish and you’re planning your Orlando family vacation, don’t forget to schedule a little time for the Largemouths. You’ll be glad you did.