In 2007 I wrote a story called the Fishing Trifecta, where we took a boat from the east coast of Florida through the Okeechobee Waterway to the west coast. What surprised me was how much I loved the vast, desolate shorelines of the lake.
The trip served as a reminder that, while most think of Florida as a salt water destination, there are a wealth of fantastic boating opportunities in fresh water.
Here, then, are five great freshwater boating spots to try.
The Big O offers 752-square acres of boating waters with incredible scenery and the change to see big alligators and catch big fish. Yes, largemouth bass are the central attraction and the lake is known for producing some of the largest in the United States.
St. Johns River
The St. Johns is the largest river in Florida, stretching over 310 miles long. The river is unique in that its flow travels south to north, emptying into the ocean in Jacksonville. Its waters offer some of the most scenic and historic cruising grounds in the country.
Cypress Lake is at the headwaters of the Everglades and also one of the best places to book an airboat ride, which is like riding around on a surfboard with an airplane engine on it. They run in about one inch of water.
A visit to the picturesque town of Mount Dora offers a glimpse off “Old Florida” and public access to Lake Dora, as well as Lakes Gertrude and Beauclair. There’s also the stunning Dora Canal, a wildlife hotspot lined with towering cypress trees that connects Lake Dora to Lake Eustis, which is referred to as “the most beautiful mile of water in the world.”
Lake Placid, Florida
The town of Lake Placid is famous for its murals, so when you’re off the water it’s a place to see. But the town also abuts Lake June In Winter. The western shore is home to a state park filled with endangered scrub and its stark look has earned it the nickname “Florida’s Desert.”