Lake Griffin fishing Lake Griffen

Lake Griffin (Approx. 9400 acres) is the northern most lake on The Harris Chain. It is land locked to the south, except for a conduit system (non-navigable) connecting it to Lake Harris. Water is pumped from Lake Harris, thru a 750 acre flooded muck farm, owned by the State of Florida, which acts like an artificial kidney, cleansing the water as it slowly flows towards the southeastern basin of Lake Griffin, where it mixes with stagnant waters, and forcibly moves same northward towards the Ocklawaha River.

Lake Griffin connects from Lake Eustis on its eastern shore via the 6 mile stretch of Haines Creek. State Highway 44 crosses the creek at its midpoint and is the site of the Burrell Lock and Dam, built by the Corps of Army Engineers in the 1920's for flood control. This is a manned station, with seasonal operating hours, seven days a week.

The northern point of Lake Griffin is the primary inflow to the Ocklawaha River, which flows north approximately 50 miles thru the Moss Bluff Lock & Dam and Rodman Reservoir and Dam, before merging with the St. Johns River at the juncture of the Florida Cross Barge Canal and the Seven Sisters island group area. It then flows north approximately 75 miles to Jacksonville, Florida, where it dumps into the Atlantic Ocean. Lake Griffin is also the inflow source for Lake Yale, located almost 4 miles east, connected together by the Lake Yale Canal (non-navigable).

Lake Griffin underwent a drawdown during 1984 for the purpose of exposing, and drying the lake bottoms mainly in the northern areas of the lake, where muck and silt depths were recorded in excess of 15 feet in spots. With limited shoreline access to remove the silt, muck, and dried vegetation at the completion of the drawdown period, rising lake levels caused these materials to break free from the dried, crusted lake bottom. These floating piles of organic materials, called “tussocks” by local fishermen, floated aimlessly around the lake. They cluttered shorelines, canal entrances, and the navigable waterways. Lake Griffin property owners, homeowner associations, and environmentalists, all gave the drawdown a “Thumbs Down” review.

Lake Griffin experienced a spike in the Bass fishing following the drawdown. 1986 thru 1988 were banner years, as reflected by creel census data compiled by the Game and Fish Commission. Tournament fishermen recorded record limits at weigh-ins, and the weekend anglers all caught their limits. 

Invasive Hydrilla grasses started growing on the Harris chain-o-lakes shortly after the 1984 drawdown. Aquatic herbicides were being used to eradicate these grasses on Lake Griffin and Lake Harris specifically. In addition to the mounting Hydrilla problems in the late 1980’s, biologists were also contending with excessive nutrient amounts found in the chain. The Harris Chain was dubbed as being excessively Eutrophic (Greek: meaning over-fed).

It was a matter of time and by 1991 the main player “bottom” grass species, like eel, shrimp, musk, elodea, pepper grass, naiad, and coon tail were thinning out, adding to food chain issues. Fishermen couldn’t find the Bass and biologists couldn’t find any using “electro-shocking” methods. B. A. S. S. held a 4-day National Open Tournament (350 entrants) on The Harris Chain that year and the winning 4-day total stringer was 13 pounds. WOW!! Opinions vary on the cause of the decline of The Harris Chain fishery during the early 90’s, but the agreed upon root cause was the EUTROPHIC condition of the chain, with phosphorus being the main culprit ingredient.

Canal dredging, Re-stocking programs, and Gizzard Shad removal projects replaced the Drawdown concept as acceptable alternatives for enhancing the environmental vitality of the lake. These programs were funded, and instituted during the early 2000’s.

The Harris Chain of Lakes is located primarily in Lake County, Florida, 30 miles northwest of Orlando. It is part of the Oklawaha River basin, a sub-basin of the St. Johns River. It is known by locals as the Harris or Oklawaha Chain of Lakes. The Harris Chain consists of 9 primary (74,000 acres) lakes, all flowing north, and eventually draining into the Atlantic Ocean near Jacksonville Florida via the St. Johns River.

The Harris Chain was added to the National Bass Fishing Hot Spot List back in the 1980's when it became home for the B.A.S.S Megabucks trail (1986-1990). Pro bass anglers of the day agreed that the chain was the most diverse in structure and vegetation types of any & all that they fished. Kissimmee grasses, maiden cane, bull rushes, cattails, and lily pads are abundant emergent aquatic types of vegetation found throughout the chain.

Bottom growing grass types are Eel, Shrimp, Southern Naiad, Musk, and Coon Tail. Structure such as docks, residential canal systems, dredge areas, and State Game and Fish “Fish Attractors” complement The Harris Chain diversity these pro anglers spoke of.

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Lake Griffin - Ramp #1

700 E. North Blvd. Leesburg, Fl. 32748
Lat:28.814846, Lon:-81868355

Herlong Park ramp (railroad train ramp).

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Lake Griffin - Ramp #2

6815 Lake Griffin Rd. Lady Lake, Fl. 32159
Lat:28.814846, Lon:-81868355

Pine Island Fish Camp.

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