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In plain sight.

Sometimes great fishing spots are right under your nose. Lake Hall is one of those places. This relatively small lake (182 acres) is within the Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park and is home to the Tallahassee Rowing Club as well as the location for the swim portion of the Redhills Spring Triathlon. The park also prohibits outboard motors. For this reason or maybe all of the above reasons the lake seems to have escaped the notice of most local freshwater anglers. This is unfortunate or maybe fortunate depending on your point of view. The lake supports a healthy population of largemouth bass, speckled perch, brown bullhead catfish, channel catfish and yellow bullhead catfish. It also has a good number of shiners.

Largemouth bass weighing 10 pounds or more are frequently caught in the lake, as are stringers full of panfish. The lake is deep and seems to be spring fed. Some spots are over 30 feet deep. It also has the distinction of having the best water quality of any lake in Leon County. An additional benefit of good water quality is great clarity. The lake is classified as oligotrophic which means it doesn't have a lot of nutrients. Many lakes in Florida were oligotrophic before development and runoff added large amounts of nutrients. These degraded both the water quality as well as the clarity.

Anglers who fish Lake Hall often use canoes, kayaks or small boats with electric trolling motors. To deal with the exceptional water clarity, fishermen use light tackle and fluorocarbon leaders. Some bass anglers catch shiners and fish these on the edge of vegetation along the shoreline. Night fishing is also an option, especially on hot days or when recreational activities on the lake are high.

Lake Hall is the perfect lake for fly fishing. Crappie and other panfish are suckers for small beadhead white flies that look like the brook silversides minnows that are all over the lake. Sometimes, according to Buddy Warren who fishes the lake, the silversides minnows will school near the surface of the lake. When this happens crappie and other panfish often erupt through these schools of bait. This is when Buddy tosses his fly into the frenzy. It almost always guarantees a hookup.


Largemouth bass are also susceptible to the fly rod. Buddy has the best luck with a No. 4 beaded wooly bugger. He uses a floating line with a 9-foot leader. This gets the fly down to 5 feet at the most but because the water is so clear, bass come up from deeper water to smash the fly.

In the Gulf of Mexico, red snapper season is open until July 10 in state waters and then weekends in September. There are numerous artificial reefs that are worth checking out. There are also numerous new reefs installed out of Carrabelle under the NRDA program. The coordinates for all area reefs are listed in the FWC Reef Database at

Spanish mackerel will be scattered throughout Northwest Florida, wherever small baitfish appear. Some of the more predictable spots are Dog Island Reef, East End of St. George Island, Mud Cove and the St. Marks outer range marker. These schools of mackerel will readily bite but usually only on the size baitfish they are feeding on. Trolling small spoons is almost always dependable for finding the fish but it's easier to switch to casting small spoons once they are located. It's also more fun catching them this way. If the schools of bait are thick, they can be caught with a cast net or sabiki rigs. These live baits area lot of fun to fish under beaded or popping corks.

HUNTING The deadline for picking up permits for the National Wildlife Refuge Hunts will be coming up this month and though it was not announced by the time of this writing it is usually July 20. This includes Archery, General Gun, Mobility Impaired and the St. Vincent Sambar hunts.


Lake Jackson is on the verge of busting out. The extensive drought basically rejuvenated the lake and now that the normal water level has been restored so has the great fishing. Granted there is a lot of vegetation, but this has never deterred anglers who like to catch fish. The water clarity is better on the western side of the lake than to the east around the popular Crowder Road boat landing.

In July, early and late in the day are effective times to bass fish. This usually means fishing weed less spoons or frog baits across emergent vegetation and along the edges of the boat trails. Plastic worms can also be buzzed through these same areas. Live shiners are also an excellent option for catching one of the monster bass the lake has been famous for.

Bream and shellcrackerfishing is also excellent throughout the lake.
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Title Annotation:NORTHWEST
Author:Greer, Bill
Publication:Florida Sportsman
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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