Fishing Big and Little Lake Harris
Big Lake Harris, located in Central Florida's Lake County is approximately 8 miles long and 6 miles wide. Covering 15,322 acres of water, it stretches from Highway 27 in Leesburg on the west to State Road 19 in Howey-in-the-Hills on the east. The lake averages about 10-12 feet in depth with a deep 20-30 foot trench running along it's southern shoreline. The lake is ringed with Kissimmee grass, reeds and cattails. Numerous private lakefront homes, boat docks and waterfront structures exist. A full service Marina and public boat ramp are located in the City of Leesburg at Venetian Gardens Park. The Mission Inn Resort maintains a marina in Howey-in-the-Hills where boats can be rented on a half day basis. Read more...
Big Lake Harris is ringed with Kissimmee grass, pads, reeds and cattails. The depth in the grass varies from a few inches to 5-6 feet. This shoreline cover is prime flipping territory, especially in March and April. Look for grass beds with at least 3 feet of water containing a mixture of plants. The best beds are near points or small islands of grass. If you find a bed containing a downed tree or the remnants of an old dock, all the better. In the colder months, the north shoreline from Johnson's Point west is a good place to fish. The water is deeper along this shoreline and you will be protected from hard north winds. If the wind is blowing hard out of the north quadrant, be especially careful navigating near Johnson's Point. Freak waves have a nasty habit of rearing up in this area. It's sad to say, but we have lost more than one angler on Big Lake Harris. Remember, your boat has more than two speeds, slow down and live!
Many people are surprised to learn that the lagoon and canals of Venetian Gardens hold good fish. The lagoon bottom is covered in eel grass and the entire basin is a major bass bedding area. Traveling south along the west shoreline you soon reach the entrance to the famous 9th street canals. This large lagoon is full of pads, downed trees and water plants of all description. Many national and local bass tournaments have been won out of 9th street. If you plan to fish there in a tournament, plan on lots of company. On the other hand, it's probably the most consistent fish holding area on the entire lake.
Continuing west to the southwest corner of the lake and you will find the entrance to Helena Run. Helena run is a small creek that snakes back into the wilderness and terminates at Lake Denham. Lake Denham and Helena Run both contain good bass, but are extremely shallow and can should be avoided in times of low water.
Just east of Helena Run is the entrance to the Palatlaka River. The Palatlaka River connects the Harris Chain with the Clermont Chain to the South. There is a spillway on the River preventing navigation between the lakes. The water in the creek is very clear and sight fishing can be productive in the spring or if the current is running strong.
In Yalaha there is a large spring at the back of a small canal between the lakefront homes. The water in this spring is crystal clear which makes sight bed fishing an option. Yalaha also has some nice offshore humps where numerous bass tournaments have been won in the summer months. The humps are in 18 feet of water and rise to about 6 feet. Carolina rigged worms work well along with deep diving cranks baits. The long deep trench that runs along the Yalaha shoreline is also prime deep crank bait territory. Locals trolling the trench with deep diving crank baits often catch quality bass.
The large bay in front of the Hickory Point Park can be especially good in the spring. Flipping the grass is productive as well as crank baiting the large flats surrounding horseshoe island. Behind Long Island is a another large bay that holds a lot of bass year round. Rattle trapping and spinner baiting the eel grass catches a lot of bass as well as working the canals leading into the Lake Harris Lodge and the Banana Point Marinas.
Long Island itself is a productive flipping area. The grass is deep and the bass tend to hold there in times of high water. Running
around the large point covered with multi-million dollar homes, you will come to Green Cove. Green Cove is very shallow, but can be
especially good in the spring. I like to spinner bait the pads in the cove and have caught a number of big fish in this cove.
Where to fish in Little Lake Harris
Little Lake Harris is one the most productive big bass lakes in the Harris Chain. The majority of my fish over 8 pounds have come from this lake. The lake
covers all the water east of the Howey Bridge and is mostly undeveloped. The lake is ringed with Kissimmee grass, reeds and cat
tails and contains some of the largest pad fields on the Chain. The grass beds are deeper and thicker in this lake, making flipping an
effective year round option. The water quality in Little Lake Harris is better than most of the Chain especially at the bottom in the
Double Run area. The deepest canals in the Chain are located in Astatula on the east side of the lake. The Double Run area with it's
huge pad fields and stickups is a favorite of mine. Everything seems to work here, but you need to experiment to find what the bass want
on any given day. The area can be tough to fish in the winter as the north wind blows directly into the runs. Top water fishing can be
great in the warmer months with rattle traps and spinner baits working best in the winter and spring.