The fish are in and the “Battle of the Lakes” concluded! Fellsmere Reservoir (popularly known as Headwaters Lake) won the battle against Orange Lake, with the highest total pounds of bass caught-and-released by competing anglers since the competition started last fall. The amiable competition between participants fishing Fellsmere Reservoir and Orange Lake, two of Florida’s premier trophy bass destinations, was designed to highlight both fisheries, generate enthusiasm for bass fishing and encourage participation in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) TrophyCatch program.
The FWC’s citizen science TrophyCatch program served as the official catch recorder and tallied some interesting results from the contest. Participants of the battle will be honored at the upcoming TrophyCatch Hall of Fame Ceremony at Bass Pro Shops in Daytona on Nov. 11.
Fellsmere anglers submitted 85 trophy bass totaling 759 pounds, 3 ounces and averaging 8.93 pounds to put their favorite water on top. For Orange Lake, participants caught 64 bass weighing 635 pounds, 8 ounces, with an average bass weight of 9.93 pounds. However, these numbers only tell part of the story: Orange Lake yielded the heaviest bass of the entire season at 14 pounds, 1 ounce for a total of four Hall of Fame fish weighing more than 13 pounds, while Fellsmere did not post any giant bass in this category.
“Each water body is different and has a lot to offer,” said Tom Graef, Director of FWC’s Division of Freshwater Fisheries. “We thank all our participants on both sides of this fun contest for helping to showcase Florida as the bass fishing capital of the world.”
It’s no coincidence that well after these sites were selected for this battle, Bassmaster chose both waters, along with world-famous Lake Okeechobee, for its prestigious Top 10 Best Bass Lakes of 2023.
TrophyCatch is a largemouth bass conservation program designed to promote the responsible catch, documentation and release of trophy-size bass while rewarding anglers for their contributions to fisheries research and management. Your participation in TrophyCatch helps the FWC better understand and conserve Florida’s freshwater fisheries. For more information about the TrophyCatch program, email KP Clements at KP.Clements@MyFWC.com. For fishing information on Florida’s most popular waters see FWC’s Freshwater Fishing Forecasts.