Lake Istokpoga, Florida – Lake of Trophy Bass & Crappie

Lake Istokpoga fish report, Jan-Mar 2020:

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, bluegill (bream) and redear sunfish (shellcrackers) fishing has slowed, but fish can still be caught while fishing for black crappie (specks).

Specks (crappie) will be turning on with the cooler water temperatures in these next few months. Drift live Missouri minnows and grass shrimp in open water, or troll with Napier deer hair jigs and Hal flies for schooling fish. Find areas with sandy bottoms around bulrush and cattails, and fish a grass shrimp under a cork for spawning fish. Henderson’s Cove and the north end of the lake usually produces good numbers of specks on the outside edge of the pads and grasses near deeper water.

Lake Istokpoga is one of the best lakes in the state at a chance to get your hands on a fish of a lifetime.

As of November 2019, there have been a whopping 527 TrophyCatch submissions of bass larger than 8 pounds since the program was launched in October 2012!

A total of 441 fish have been entered into the Lunker Club (8-9.99 lb.), 84 into Trophy Club (10-12.99 lb.), and 2 into the Hall of Fame Club (13 pounds or more).

FWC Trophy Catch Logo

TrophyCatch Tracker – TrophyCatch is FWC’s citizen-science program that rewards anglers for documenting and releasing trophy bass 8 pounds or larger.

Remember, as part of the TrophyCatch program, these big bass have been released, so your trophy still swims in Lake Istokpoga. Largemouth Bass have also been tagged by Biologists on the lake. If you catch a tagged fish, remember to remove the tag and call the number provided. You will need it to collect your $100 reward!

Largemouth bass fishing can be tough during the early months of winter, with cold fronts slowing the fishing on a regular basis. Slow working baits like plastic worms in Junebug and red shad colors and suspending jerkbaits in shad colors can be beneficial during these colder months. Just remember, you must have patience while working these baits.

Live wild shiners typically produce better than artificial baits during this time of year.

Bass will begin to spawn in late January and will be moving into areas in and around bulrush (buggy whips) on the northern shoreline and the submerged vegetation in the channels south of Big Island and Bumblebee Island. Flipping these areas with soft plastics, weightless speed worms, and swimbaits will be the best bet during the spawning season. Fishing for bass between the cold fronts can be very productive.

Use caution when the wind blows on this shallow lake, it can get rough in a hurry! Tight lines!

More details about Lake Istopoga:

Highlands County

Istokpoga

Located five miles northeast of Lake Placid, Highlands County, this 27,692-acre lake has quality fishing for black crappie (specks) and one of the highest largemouth bass catch rates in the state. The best speck fishing occurs during winter months drifting over open water, particularly in the northeast and southwest corners. Predominant aquatic vegetation includes spatterdock (bonnets), bulrush (buggy whips), cattail, and pondweed (peppergrass). Kissimmee grass on the south end is particularly productive when there is flow into the Istokpoga Canal. This canal, located off County Highway 621, provides excellent largemouth bass fishing from the bank when the gates are open. Arbuckle and Josephine Creek mouths are also good areas when there is flow. The island areas and associated grass can hold bass any time of year and the deepest portion of the lake (10 ft) is in the southwest corner. Public boat ramps are located on the north, northeast, and southwest shorelines off of U.S. Route 98, Lake Boulevard off Cow House Road, and Highland Lake Drive off of County Route 621, respectively. There are also six fish camps/resorts on the lake with various accommodations. Anglers can wade fish off of the Cow House Road boat ramp.

For more information contact Henderson’s Fish Camp at 863-465-2101, or Cypress Isle RV Park & Marina at 863-465-5241.

Popular Species

Popular Sport Fish SpeciesFish graphics by Duane Raver, Jr.

More species information is available for:

Largemouth bass, Bluegill, Redear sunfishBlack crappie

FWC Trophy Catch Logo

TrophyCatch Tracker

TrophyCatch is FWC’s citizen-science program that rewards anglers for documenting and releasing trophy bass 8 pounds or larger. The following TrophyCatch bass have been submitted from Lake Istokpoga:

Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 441

Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 84

Hall of Fame (13+ pounds): 2

A GREAT FISH STORY

Stockton Lake white crappie are large, plentiful, fun to catch and tasty!

  • Answering the Call
  • Learning about Life, Love, Fishermen and Jesus
  • Stone Creek Lodge, Stockton Lake…a Place to Visit
  • Great Fishing Trips, Vacation Fun…Creating a Legacy and Passion for Sharing

By Larry Whiteley

As a young man Kris Nelson loved to go fishing every chance he had.  He fished in all the lakes and streams of southwest Missouri near his hometown of Willard. While other young men were playing sports or doing things they shouldn’t, Kris was fishing.

When he graduated from high school he worked and saved his money, then got into buying houses, fixing them up and selling them for a profit. His success gave him the time and money to go fishing.

In 2008, when the housing market went bust, Kris lost virtually everything and had to go out and find a job. Through it all though he still found a way to go do what he loved. Fishing helped him through the tough times.

While working at a factory job in Springfield, a friend told him, “Kris, what are you doing here? This is not for you. Your heart is in fishing.” Not long after, he found out about a job in Florida as a fishing guide, so he sold his boat and off he went to follow his dream.

In 2011 after a few years of guiding and even being captain of a charter fishing boat, Kris decided it was time to go back home to the Missouri Ozarks.

Stockton Lake walleye can be elusive, but Kris Nelson (guide) says, “There are ways to find them!”

Shortly after getting  back from Florida he was fly fishing for trout below the dam on Lake Taneycomo and having great success, when another fisherman who wasn’t having the same success came up to him. He wanted to know if he would show him how he was catching them. Kris patiently helped and then smiled as the man started reeling in fish.

Crappie fishing is prime time fishing fun at Stone Creek Lodge.

It turned out the man was in Branson with some friends and he asked Kris if he would guide him and his buddy’s the next day, and they would pay him. Since he needed the money, Kris agreed, but he didn’t have a boat, so he rented one from Lilley’s Landing and Resort. The day was a success and the fishermen were happy.

That got Kris to thinking that maybe there were other fishermen willing to pay him for guiding them on Lake Taneycomo. Unable to afford a boat to guide, a good friend named Justin Hayden loaned him his boat and Kris’s guide business was off and running.

He eventually saved enough money to buy his own boat and began expanding his guiding business to Stockton Lake and Pomme de Terre Lake, as well as Lake Taneycomo.  He called his business, “Tandem Fly Outfitters.”

About that time, another very special thing happened in Kris’s life. His cousin set him up on a blind date with a beautiful girl named Amanda and he was totally hooked.

Another chapter in the life of Kris and Amanda began in 2017. He was doing so many guide trips on Stockton, he started renting a room at Stone Creek Lodge. That way, he wouldn’t have to drive back and forth to Branson each day. The owner of the lodge had noticed how Kris’s guide business was thriving and approached him about buying the lodge.

Amanda had to drive back and forth a lot so she could be with Kris when he wasn’t guiding, so the two talked it over and decided to take a big step and buy it. To make it all even more special, three days after writing up a contract on the lodge, they found out Amanda was pregnant and they are now the proud parents of a pretty girl named Lilly.

Today you will find Amanda and Lilly running the lodge, snack shop and tackle store, while Kris is out on the water making sure their customers are having a good time and catching lots of fish. When the day’s work is done, you will usually find Kris walking around their property with one arm around Amanda, holding Lilly in his other arm and smiling.

I have fished both Taneycomo and Pomme de Terre with this young man and, to be honest with you, I have been with guides all over the U.S. and Canada, but I have never had a better fishing guide. He is knowledgeable and wise far beyond his age. You will catch fish and you will catch a lot of them. I would not hesitate in recommending Kris Nelson to anyone wanting to experience a great fishing trip.

God has been good to Kris Nelson and, in his wonderful Ozarks accent, he is quick to give Him all the credit and praise for what has happened in his life. I would just bet his favorite bible verse is Matthew 4:19. Look it up and you will understand what I mean.

After reading this, I think you will probably agree that the amazing life of Kris Nelson, his family and their business, all makes this a really great fish story.

To book a trip with Kris go to his Facebook page @Tandem Fly Outfitters or call the lodge at 417-276-1700.

Amanda, Kris and Lilly Nelson offer top fishing fun and share their joy for life and love with everyone that has ever met them.  Meet these great friends of mine at Stone Creek Lodge on your next outdoor adventure.  Larry Whiteley Photo

Catch More CRAPPIES thru the ICE, Plankton is the Key!

  • Crappies follow plankton, What To Do.
  • Who needs a road pass…Bro’s plastic mods
Understanding the story of finding slab crappie in winter is explained here.

Hitting that magical window where crappies and zooplankton collide can produce some seriously impressive results. It’s all about finessing your way onto their dinner plate, on their schedule.  Full tip on Full tip on TargetWalleye.com, few excerpts:

> Deepwater crappies can often be found following the vertical migration of zooplankton. Typically we think of the ‘magic hour’ as being sunrise or sunset, but that sunrise can be as much as an hour later under the ice (and sunset an hour earlier) thanks to the lack of light penetration.

> Increased light levels in the morning trigger zooplankton to vacate areas higher in the water column and slide back towards bottom. It’s a similar situation towards evening.

> Maybe you’ve noticed the bottom ‘lighting up’ on your flasher near dusk? Zooplankton will begin to rise off bottom as the light levels drop, and they feed on microscopic plant-like organisms called phytoplankton.

> Mud basins in the 22-34′ range are where the magic happens.

> Aside from fishing super-clear or heavily-pressured lakes, this is another time I feel fluorocarbon plays a big role. Not only does Sufix Invisiline Fluoro actually sink, but it drops 4x more quickly than mono.

> For me it’s not so much about the bait’s drop speed as it is to help keep the line tight using light jigs in deep water.

Ultra-finesse tungsten jigs are key for these filter-feeding crappies. Baits like VMC Tungsten Fly Jigs, or Jeffs Jigs and Flies Tungsten Shrimp and Zoo Bugs have that perfect compact profile yet are still fishable in deeper water.

Tiny jigs and assorted ultra-finesse freshwater filter-feeder creature critters add to the mix of being prepared when you look for winter crappie giants.

Basic colors such as straight glow, white and occasionally black work great as zooplankton are virtually translucent. Working the lure fairly aggressively will help to call fish in, but use subtle — almost quivering — jigging movements to seal the deal.

Of course, if those deep fish are aggressive and “flying up” to intercept your baits, you can throw on a 4-5mm tungsten jig or a jigging spoon instead and light ’em up FAST.

Catching Crappie on the Original Road Runner – PART 1

  • “We just wanted a lure that would catch fish.”
  • Spinner beneath Horsehead-Type Jig is MOST EFFECTIVE
  • No Line Tangles, No Missed Strikes
  • Fish it SLOW…’Nuff Said!

By Keith Sutton

Author, Keith Sutton, with a nice crappie.

That’s how the late Bert Hall described the rationale behind his Road Runner lure. He designed it in 1958, but rather than target only bass, trout or panfish, he wanted a generalist lure that would attract almost any fish.

Click picture to Learn More.

That’s exactly what Hall produced. A Road Runner slowly retrieved on light line will draw strikes from black bass, white bass, crappie, bluegills, sauger, walleyes, trout, stripers—you name it. Anything that eats minnows or insects is likely to nab it. It’s my guess, however, that the Blakemore Road Runner is more popular with crappie anglers than other types of fishermen because it can be used so many ways to catch America’s favorite panfish.

Click picture to Learn More.

The Road Runner is unique among spinner-type lures because the spinner is beneath a horsehead-type lead where it’s more easily seen by fish striking from the side or below. The blade rarely tangles with your fishing line like “safety pin” spinners, nor does it interfere with hook-ups.

Several body styles are available (Bubble Belly, Marabou, Curly Tail, Turbo Tail, Buck Tail and Crappie Thunder) and two blade styles (Colorado and willow) in sizes from 1/32 to 1 ounce and every color of the rainbow.

Bert Hall, the Missouri Ozarks stream fisherman who invented the little spinner, also crafted the wise slogan that, “You can’t fish a Road Runner wrong as long as you fish it slow.” In many cases, slow is best, but crappie anglers shouldn’t be buttonholed into fishing the Road Runner just one way. Depending on water conditions and the mood of the fish, this fabulous, famous, fishing-catching lure can be fished slow or fast, deep or shallow, vertically or horizontally.

The simplest method, perhaps, is just casting the lure and reeling it in at a snail’s pace—just fast enough so the blade turns. You also can drop a Road Runner beneath your boat and fish different depths with little hops and twitches that will get a big slab’s attention.

To look over the Road Runner selection of colors and weight options, visit: http://www.ttiblakemore.com/product-category/road-runner/.

For some of the best action, however, you might want to add some variations to your Road Runner repertoire. The techniques described in Part 2 of this Road Runner fishing lure series are tried and proven.

They’re sure to give you an edge next time you want a mess of crappie for the deep fryer.

(Editor’s Note: Keith Sutton is the author of “The Crappie Book: Basics and Beyond.” To order an autographed copy, send a check or money order for $19.45 to C & C Outdoor Productions, 15601 Mountain Dr., Alexander, AR 72002. For credit card and PayPal orders, visit www.catfishsutton.com.)