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Headwaters Trip


TOXIC

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  • Super User

Made a trip to the newest big bass Mecca in Florida and spent a week on the water.  Chose which version you want me to relay.  All the details with pics or a quick rundown.  

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3 hours ago, Jar11591 said:

I love a thorough fishing report with pictures myself.

Make that me 3

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3 hours ago, TOXIC said:

Made a trip to the newest big bass Mecca in Florida and spent a week on the water.  Chose which version you want me to relay.  All the details with pics or a quick rundown.  

Sr, this is a bass fishing forum... details are what we're here for. 

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  • Super User

Good luck, looking forward to your detailed report!

 

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  • Super User

Alrighty then. I’ll work up a good report.  I’m waiting to see how Yamamoto wants to cover it but I’ll post here.  First I have to go to the beef processor and pick up 550lbs of black angus we had butchered.  

19 hours ago, Zcoker said:

Readers digest version because I spend a lot of time on that lake and if I started posting pics, I'd fill up pages lol. 

You’ll probably get the most out of a report because you know the “lay of the land”.?

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3 hours ago, TOXIC said:

You’ll probably get the most out of a report because you know the “lay of the land”.?

 

I sure do! I do that whole place atop a powered kayak, so I'm all over in the thick of it lol Anything you can offer up I'm sure would be appreciated. That place has made some great memories for many, many people. 

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  • Super User

Here we go.  Headwaters from start to finish.  Sit back, relax and if you ever want to venture out on this water, hopefully this will help.  
Lodging

There are a few options for lodging.  A lot of Airbnb places are popping up.  There’s a guy who rents out 2 travel trailers on his property and there’s a guy who has a travel trailer in an Orange grove that is fairly close.  A lot of guys stay in the many hotels in Vero Beach or Sebastian.  Some are set up for boats and some are not.  We opted to stay in a 4 room set up on Blue Cypress Lake.  They call them cabins but they are like small efficiency rooms with a full size refrigerator and a cooktop.  Can be set up as 2 twins or 1 king per room.  Blue Cypress Lakeside Cabins, Vero Beach, FL, (772) 770-2067 https://bluecypresslakesidecabins.com Would we stay there again? 50/50.  Rooms were spotless clean, beds were fantastic comply, shower was a little small and we found that at the end of the day we were too tired to cook and ended up eating at a couple of places in Fellsmere on our way back to the rooms.  The trip to the launch was about 40 minutes and there was really no traffic.  The drive allowed my fishing partners to catch up on emails, etc.  places we ate were the Marsh restaurant, which was very good and a true Mexican restaurant called Tapatias.  
The Launch

Much is said about the road to the launch.  I can’t remember the exact length but it’s like 3 or 4 miles long.  It’s graded once a week and is the consistency of flour or baby powder and gets everywhere.  We trailered everyday with the cover on the boat and it still got coated really bad, not to mention my truck.  There is a car wash in Fellsmere where if you are like me, you can rinse your boat and truck off.  We did it right before we headed home. The road to the launch is very, very rough if you are getting towards the time it is to be graded.  The ramp itself is very nice.  It is privately owned but patrolled by FWC to enforce rules.  Rules are no entering earlier than 1 hour before sunrise and no parking on the grassy areas, which are clearly marked.  There is an open field across the road from the launch that I used a couple of days because the lot was nearing full and there is some drama that goes on everyday.  I also witnessed the vultures and crows that liked to perch and walk on any of the trucks parked near the water.  One day there was a huge hyacinth island that blew across 1 lane of the ramp rendering it useless.  There are 2 lanes.  Normal ramp drama is people cutting line and rigging in the launch lane.  I have a story about that and will post if asked.  There are also a lot of guides that operate out of there.  The road to the launch is that same road to Stick Marsh Farm 13.  
The Lake

The lake itself is pretty straight forward.  It is your typical Florida shallow lake with deeper canals for general navigation.  Remember the lake was designed for habitat so up to date mapping software and waterproof plastic maps to identify areas is paramount.  We had to rescue a friend who got high centered when he ventured out of a canal.  Because of the canals, you get some great weed edges close to deep water, there is hyacinth mats, reed islands, milfoil, Kissimmee Grass and even rock islands from the dirt they excavated and piled up.  We found a submerged old orange grove and there is an area of cypress called the Cypress Maze on maps.  We fished it all in the week we were on the water.  We have been to Kissimmee and Okeechobee twice and saw the most gators here.  My one major takeaway from the lake was that it fishes much, much bigger than it looks on a map.  I was a little concerned we were going to be crowded due to the popularity and the size but we were never once crowded and there were days we didn’t have a single boat near us.  No air boats allowed and that was refreshing.  There is a 25 mph speed limit on the lake and a requirement that you slow to idle when passing in the canals but those 2 rules are pushed by quite a few.  The lake is a gem for sure.

Lures Thrown

We threw a good selection of baits and opted for all artificial.  The guides will give clients the option and most choose shiners because, let’s face it, that’s the easiest way to catch a trophy fish.  There is a circle hook rule if shiner fishing.  We took the gear to float or free line shiners (against my better judgement) but there was a shortage of shiners coupled with the fact that the guides had first dibs and the price was $30 plus a dozen with reports of guides going through 6 dozen a day, made artificials much more attractive.  Here is a list of what was thrown:

Senkos 5 & 6 inch weighted and unweighted.***

Speed Senko weighted and unweighted***

Yamamoto Heart Tail weighted ewg hook***

Yamamoto Kut Tail 7.75 inch with screw in nose weight***

Yamamoto Cowboy & Mermaid on Shakeyhead**

Yum 4in Worm on Ned***

Jerkbait*

Dropshot*

Bull Shad

Chatterbait Yamamoto Zako Trailer

Swim Jig  Yamamoto Paddle tail Zako trailer

Yamamoto DShad and Zoom Super Fluke weightless

 

* 1 to 4 fish **5 to 10 fish ***over 10 (5 day span). 

 

We averaged 10-15 fish per person, per day.  We put a 6lb or bigger in one of the boats everyday.  There were 3 boats 2 days and 2 boats the rest of the time. The days of 3 boats we had 6 anglers the days of 2 boats we had 5. The biggest producer by far was the 5 inch Senko with a nose weight and a screw in hitchhiker blade in the tail.  My big fish came on the Kut Tail and a lot of fish were caught on the Speed Senko.  The Yum 4 inch on the Ned rig caught a ton of small fish and was a surprise because my buddy rigged it up for his nephew who flew in from Boston and wanted to make sure he got on fish.  He did catch a 6 pounder on that rig.  If you want any details on how or where each was fished, just ask.  General consensus was that we were a week early for the big spawn wave.  We saw a lot of empty beds and did catch a few off the beds.  Now on to the pics….if you want an explanation of any of them once again, just ask.  I’ve got a lot more pics if there’s something specific you want to see.   Will we go back! ABSOFREAKINLOUTLY!??

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Great story and pics. You weren’t kidding when you said the sand was kicking up. Looked like a white stripe wrap on your merc.

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Glad you had a good time and caught nice fish! Headwaters is definitely the place to go here in Florida for a trophy bass. It's one of the few places designed to accommodate them. FWC list 275 over 8 pounds last few years which is catching up with Lake Okeechobee! That's a lotta big ones, considering the difference in size between the two places as well as their age.  As far as that boat ramp goes, wow, there's a ton of ongoing drama related to it or, as some call it, dock talk. Lotta drama queens making a fuzz about all kinds of stuff.....parking, grass, speed limits, guides, shiner depletion and so forth. Glad you didn't let it spoil your trip! The road is not so bad early morning before first light but dusts up badly during the hot day. It's 7 miles. Now, if you really want to get dusty, drive the road to Kenansville Lake, 12 miles of it! Kenansville Lake is next to Stick Marsh yet only way to get to it is to go all the way around 50 miles or so. It can be just a productive as Headwaters without the drama and hardly a boat to be seen. Jurassic Park, they call it. Middle of nowhere! 

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  • Super User

Thanks for the tips!  We may put kenansville on the list.  2:years ago when we were on Kissimmee we had some of the Elite Series pros staying next to us.  They were trying to convince us to go there because Kissimmee was fishing very tough and they were catching huge fish and numbers.  We should have taken them up on it.  The only ramp drama we saw at Headwaters was a lot of the “pro’s” parking on the grass and viewed as entitled and a tourist who passed a line of 4 trucks/boats on the access road at 50mph and then instead of going to the rigging area to get his boat ready, he got in the launch line and held everyone up as he took 2 covers off his boat and loaded all of his gear.  People eventually started going around him.  Overall the trip was a huge success if we go back we would probably try to find a place a little closer to the lake even though there was absolutely nothing wrong with where we stayed.  Most did have to unhook to get boat/truck in but luckily we got permission to park across the road in a neighbors lot that was big enough to hold the truck and boat hooked.  

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39 minutes ago, TOXIC said:

Thanks for the tips!  We may put kenansville on the list.  2:years ago when we were on Kissimmee we had some of the Elite Series pros staying next to us.  They were trying to convince us to go there because Kissimmee was fishing very tough and they were catching huge fish and numbers.  We should have taken them up on it.  The only ramp drama we saw at Headwaters was a lot of the “pro’s” parking on the grass and viewed as entitled and a tourist who passed a line of 4 trucks/boats on the access road at 50mph and then instead of going to the rigging area to get his boat ready, he got in the launch line and held everyone up as he took 2 covers off his boat and loaded all of his gear.  People eventually started going around him.  Overall the trip was a huge success if we go back we would probably try to find a place a little closer to the lake even though there was absolutely nothing wrong with where we stayed.  Most did have to unhook to get boat/truck in but luckily we got permission to park across the road in a neighbors lot that was big enough to hold the truck and boat hooked.  

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The parking at headwaters was limited by design, or so I've heard. The land is private and there's still some politics involve. I mean, the place has literally been peeled wide open for the entire world, unexpectedly at that. Many locals and local guides kinda took ownership, whatever that means. Maybe they'll start putting names on the parking spaces lol

 

With Kenansville, if you go bring everything you need because there's absolutely nothing out there anywhere. No going back once down that 12 mile road. The ramp at Kenansville is probably the steepest boat ramp that I've ever seen. So be mindful of that. A little intimidating at first but doable. 

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  • Super User
6 minutes ago, Zcoker said:

 

 

The parking at headwaters was limited by design, or so I've heard. The land is private and there's still some politics involve. I mean, the place has literally been peeled wide open for the entire world, unexpectedly at that. Many locals and local guides kinda took ownership, whatever that means. Maybe they'll start putting names on the parking spaces lol

 

With Kenansville, if you go bring everything you need because there's absolutely nothing out there anywhere. No going back once down that 12 mile road. The ramp at Kenansville is probably the steepest boat ramp that I've ever seen. So be mindful of that. A little intimidating at first but doable. 

For the most part all of the guides we encountered were pretty nice and helpful.  Some of the locals were a little salty about cutting in line to launch.  I can’t believe the pros were driving all the way from Kissimmee to kenansville but they were. Looks like we were as close to Kenansville as we were to headwaters since we stayed on the backside of Blue Cypress.  Word has it that it is extremely shallow. 

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1 hour ago, TOXIC said:

For the most part all of the guides we encountered were pretty nice and helpful.  Some of the locals were a little salty about cutting in line to launch.  I can’t believe the pros were driving all the way from Kissimmee to kenansville but they were. Looks like we were as close to Kenansville as we were to headwaters since we stayed on the backside of Blue Cypress.  Word has it that it is extremely shallow. 

 

Not exactly close. Although the lakes are basically next to each other, the only access to Kenansville from the Stick Marsh ramp is by airboat and then jumping the levy. Other than that it's a 50 mile journey all the way around via YeeHaw junction/441 north to catch Fellsmere Grade Road again on the other side. Kenansville has deeper areas just like most of those impoundments out there, irrigation canals and small lakes and creeks that were there before they flooded them. Kenansville was a cow pasture owned by Knights and when it was sold to the water management district and eventually flooded, so were the fence post along with the barbed wire...so be mindful of that when running out there or, at the very least, know here the post are located. 

 

As for the pros going there, it's land of the giants! It's quite small, only 2500 acres, so the chances are quite high to get into a nice fish. First time I was there and with my very first cast I caught a fish over 9.5lbs. I'm sold! 

 

 

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  • Super User

If you look on a map it’s 22.1 miles from where we stayed.  Little roundabout but doable.  32.7 to Headwaters.  

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