Ocala National Forest


“Are We Losing Moss Bluff?”


The Ocala National Forest is filled with great places to fish.  Even with so many options, Moss Bluff stands out as one the best spots the forest has to offer.  Boaters can explore the Ocklawaha River from this launch point, while shoreside anglers have room to spread out around the lock and dam area.  Quality fish are caught from shore regularly.  Plus, bathrooms and picnic tables make it a great spot for families.  It has something for everyone!

The Ocklawaha is one of the only three rivers that flow from south to north.  It’s also the longest tributary of the entire St. Johns River Basin.  Seemingly endless bends, filled with wildlife around every curve, make for an exciting boat ride.  The word, Ocklawaha, actually translates into “crooked great water”.  If you head south from Moss Bluff, you will reach Lake Griffin (15 miles upriver) which is part of the Harris chain of lakes in Lake County.  On the north side of the dam, the river winds its way through the National Forest until it reaches the St. Johns.  The entire Ocklawaha River is 130 miles long and showcases Florida’s natural beauty.

If you’ve been to Moss Bluff lately, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the dam has stopped flowing, and there’s some major construction taking place.  Dams act like “fish magnets”,  so obviously, people were concerned.  Most of the local fishermen I spoke with, thought it was being removed!  Thankfully, though, that’s NOT the case.

St. John’s River Water Management is giving Moss Bluff Dam some much needed repairs, 1.7 million dollars worth!  Steel walls were constructed on either side of the dam, and the water between, was drained out.  Once the area was dry, the two massive flow gates were then removed and inspected.  Welders began to repair the damaged gates, while the foundation of the dam received a  power wash and fresh coat of concrete.  Bearings, cables, and other moving parts were put through inspection as well.

“This project is a huge, but thankfully, it’s going smoothly, so far,” said Robin Harrell.  “Structurally, the dam is in great shape for its age.  We are on schedule to be flowing again by the end of August.”

Aside from the fishing aspect, dams are extremely important for regulating water levels.  That way we can protect residential properties, as well as irrigate farm lands.  Much appreciation goes to everyone involved, for their hard work and dedication.  Moss Bluff is truly a special place.  It’s good to know we are working to keep it that way, for generations to come.

-John Freeze