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What? No Water??

You might think that Florida hardly ever has a shortage of fishable water, but the facts show that there are times when the water levels vary a great deal. In central Florida for the past few years there has been a drought, and that is showing up in the lake and river levels around the state. At present (Dec 2002)the water levels are pretty good from another El Nino year, and it looks like we should be in better shape in 2003.

Fishermen heading to Florida for a vacation would do well to ask that pertinent question. What are the water levels like? On a recent trip across the state I stopped for a few minutes to see construction equipment driving across the lake bed at Lake Jackson near Tallahassee, and recalled the number of 10 hour trips I made from North Alabama to fish that lake. Guess that would have been a major disappointment to make the drive and find the lake gone.

Lake Jackson is an extreme example, as that lake seems to drop into a sinkhole and disappear every few years, and then comes back to be great again in a few years. In other spots rainfall varies as much as 3 feet over that last few of years, and the quest for more drinking water for the new development in Florida has reached a critical point. Many smaller lakes have gone down to the point where boats sometimes can no longer be launched there, and in some cases gone completely dry. Water levels in several central Florida counties are staying 10 or more feet low, and many of the local ponds and lakes had maximum depth of 10 to 12 feet.

The impact on fish, wildlife and birds is enormous. Populations that can not seek out deeper water are not surviving, and the full effects of this drought will not be known for several years. Similar problems in plants and trees are being felt, as the cypress populations are being threatened as well.

River levels are down as well, with fishermen's mainstays like the Suwannee and the Kissimmee being very low for several seasons. Currently the Kissimmee levels are pretty good with our rainy season being better this year, but it would be better to make a call before making any long drive to fish the rivers.

Needless to say lower water levels add to navigational hazards. Spots that used to have no stump or rock worries are sometimes closer to the top. Some of our biggest underwater threats are sandbars and gravel bars. Use caution and avoid injury or damage to your boat by finding out about hazards before blasting across the water.

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Last Update: 12/20/2002
Web Author: Mike Lott
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