At first, the marshy floodplain one hundred miles south of Orlando was empty scrubland. In 2010, state and local agencies set out to turn the wasteland into the ultimate bass lake. They dug ditches, added rockpiles, created fish holding structures and then flooded the area to prepare Fellsmere Reservoir for fishing.
To ice the cake, over a million Florida largemouth bass were added to the 10,000-acre lake. By 2017, the bass were big, abundant and aggressive. But they weren’t overfished.
For the first years, motorized boats were forbidden on the lake. This jewel was the exclusive domain of kayak anglers. Today, the lake is open to motorized boats. But the northwest corner is still best accessed by kayak. As long as it’s not a tournament weekend, you’ll find peace and quiet and plenty of bass in this fishing heaven.
Find a Man-Made Bass Fishing Heaven at Fellsmere Reservoir
Bass, bass, and bass. Florida strain largemouth are king here. You may also run into crappie and sunfish. Mean-tempered bowfin will give you a thrashing boatside.
Florida Fishing Season
In Florida, the fish bite year round. Some sharpies favor the winter spawn when big bass are on their beds.
Rigged Up for Reservoir Fishing
In the shallow, weedy reservoir, live-baiting with golden shiners is hard to beat. Many anglers look for the challenge of throwing lures. Topwater lures, weedless worms and swimbaits are most popular.
Keep a paddle handy. In many spots, you have to push the boat over thick hydrilla beds. The best bass fishing is deep in the vegetation.
Fellsmere Fishing Game Plan
Launch at the kayak-only access at the northwest corner of the reservoir. Bring your kayak cart since the launch is 150 or 200 feet from the parking lot. The lake is shallow, weedy and sometimes muddy but that doesn’t slow enthusiasts. A word of caution, expect to encounter big alligators. Don’t worry, no one has been attacked, yet.
Fellsmere Fishing Outfitter
Stick Marsh Bait & Tackle Shop in Fellsmere. The shop staff is a great source for info on Fellsmere Reservoir, Stick Marsh, Kenansville Reservoir and Blue Cypress Lake.
Where to Stay
Fellsmere is far from civilization, with few choices for high-end accommodations. The closest hotel is the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Palm Bay.
Where to Eat
Take advantage of the luck of the Irish before hitting the lake? The closest eatery is Beef O’Brady’s in Palm Bay, about a half-hour up the road. The most popular item is the not-so-Irish Build Your Own burger with toppings of your choice.
Fellsmere Reservoir is engineered for epic fishing. | Feature photo: Doug Olander