Lake Tohopekaliga (Toho) and the Kissimmee Chain
West Lake Tohopekaliga or Toho has long been known as one of Florida’s trophy Largemouth Bass fisheries. But it was in January of 2001 that Toho was actually put on the Map. This was during the B.A.S.S. Top 150 tournament held at Big Toho Dean Rojas’ Record one day catch of 45 pounds, 2 ounces.Marina that Dean Rojas broke the trail’s all-time, one day, with a five fish limit of 45 pounds 2 ounces. And, he broke the four day catch record with 20 Bass weighing 108 pounds 12 ounces. After the tournament Rojas commented that, “I can’t believe it. I could have never dreamed that I would catch 108 pounds in a tournament. You can talk about California having all the big fish, but they don’t have anything to compare to this. You guys have the big ones here.” His record included fish weighing 10.13, 10.0, 9.0, 8.2 and 7.3 pounds.
West Lake Toho is probably the most popular lake of the Kissimmee Chain. It’s a relatively shallow 18,800 acre lake that is covered with various types of aquatic vegetation. The most abundant being the massive Hydrilla beds the can be found growing to the surface in up to 12 feet of water. Toho is a North/South lake that is approximately 9 miles long and only a couple miles wide. Medium to Large Wild Shiners are the best producers for trophy fish. However, many lunkers are taken on Carolina rigs, Rat’l Traps, crank baits, soft plastic jerk baits, and suspending hard plastic jerk baits.
The rest of the Kissimmee Chain consists of, from north to south, Lake Cypress (5,500 acres), Hatchineha (14,500 acres), and Kissimmee (44,000 acres), and are also known for great Florida Bass fishing.
Butler Chain of Lakes
The Butler Chain is made up of twelve interconnected lakes that cover an area of 4720 acres. The lakes here are typically clear with sandy bottoms. The Chain of Lakes was formed as a result of a typical Florida occurrence which is known as “karst topography”. In this occurrence, limestone (found under the majority of Florida soil) is slowly dissolved by water to form sinkholes. A series of sinkholes formed over time created what is now called the Butler Chain of Lakes (aka. Windermere Chain). There are areas on these lakes that reaches depths of 30 to 50 feet and is believed to be the remnants of those sinkholes which helped form this beautiful chain of lakes.
Many celebrities call the Butler Chain of Lakes their home. Such people include the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Ken Griffey Jr., and Tiger Woods, just to name a few. It is nice place to fish where you can catch big numbers of bass with an occasional big fish, though just being on this Chain for the day is worth the trip.
Expect to see schooling fish twelve months out of the year. These schoolers sometimes average 3 – 5 pounds. Carolina-rigging in depths of 8 – 30 feet is a great producer all year. Also, this is where you’ll want to be if you’re looking for some great top-water action.
Conway Chain of Lakes
The Conway Chain of Lakes consists of four interconnected lakes in the south Orlando area. This chain is collectively referred to as Lake Conway. Conway is nearly 1,800 acres of clear water and hard sand bottom. Most of the chain is covered with scattered beds of Pepper Grass, Eel Grass, and Hydrilla. Schooling fish are found nearly year ’round, and are easily taken on small chrome jigging spoons, Rat’l Traps, and soft plastic jerk baits. This is also a great lake for those who like sight fishing for spawning Bass.
Conway is also great for Crappie (Specs) in the early spring months, and other panfish, such as, Bluegill and Shell Cracker during the summer months. Live minnows or Beetle Spins are the baits of choice.
Rodman Reservoir is legendary for the number of trophy bass it has produced over the years ever since it was created. It is consistently ranked in popular fishing magazines as one of the top ten best bass lakes in the country. Rodman’s waters, located southwest of Palatka, cover approximately 9600 acres. It is about 15 miles long almost 2 miles wide near the dam. It is a sunken floodplain forest which was created and partially cleared to create the Cross Florida Barge Canal which was never completed. The Reservoir is a complex ecosystem that supports a large variety of plants and animals. It is filled with stumps, trees, and a large amount of vegetation which makes for some great cover for these big largemouth bass. You can count on fishing under floating cover on a trip to this area. There are a lot of ‘dollar weeds’ and water hyacinths here where bass use to surprise unsuspecting prey. You also will be fishing around eel grass, hydrilla, lily pads. Rodman Reservoir and the Ocklawaha River is always a treat to fish. It is a beautiful waterway that produces big fish each and every year.
Just recently, a bass caught in Rodman gave the Official State record a scare. The fish weighed in at 17.2 lbs. and had a length of 29.75 inches coming up just short of the record fish weighing in at 17.27 pounds. Now that is one big fish! I believe that the new world record will come out of either Rodman or possibly Lake Toho down in Kissimmee which is also known for its trophy largemouth. Multiple day fishing trips booked for Rodman Reservoir and the Ocklawaha Backcountry are generally live bait fishing trips where we use wild river shiners. However, artificial fishing can also be incorporated into the trip.
Right now the Environmentalists are trying to restore the Ocklawaha River System to its original state before Rodman Reservoir was created. This would not only be a tragedy, but it would destroy a habitat in which a large amount of plants and wildlife now call home. The big bass population in this Ocklawaha backcountry would be no more and we would lose one of the best big bass lakes in the US. Hopefully, this whole restoration project will never come to pass. If you have ever thought about coming down to fish in Rodman Reservoir for that trophy largemouth that you have always dreamed about, don’t hesitate any longer. Give us a call here at Fish Orlando Pro Guide Services and book your trip now.
Johns Lake is about a 2400 acre lake located about 6 miles east of Clermont. Not too many anglers know of the lake except the locals. This lake can be a great lake to fish and has really seemed to make a comeback in 2007 with some very big fish caught out of the lake and on artificial baits. There is a decent amount of vegetation around the lake along with flooded brush which can provide those big bass which lots of cover. The water on this lake seems to fluctuate a lot throughout the past years has seemed to make it an even better fishery.