The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Palm Beach County Parks & Recreation Department scored two local spots on a recent list of the nation’s best fishing and boating locales. Lake Osborne in John Prince Park and Okeeheelee Fish Management Area in Okeeheelee Park made the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and its Take Me Fishing and Vamos A Pescar campaigns’ 2016 Top 100 Family-Friendly Places to Boat and Fish in the U.S. list. The Top 100 list was released leading up to National Fishing and Boating Week.
Cooperatively managed by the FWC and Palm Beach County, both sites provide great access and good recreational fishing for casual family outings and serious anglers alike. Fishing piers, boat ramps, fish attractors and fish feeders are combined with fish stocking and habitat enhancement to create productive angling that is easy to access. This collaboration allows both agencies to offer better recreational opportunities for their mutual constituents.
“These areas are readily available for residents and visitors alike and are known for producing some great angling opportunities,” said FWC regional Freshwater Fisheries administrator Barron Moody.
Lake Osborne is a 356-acre lake in suburban Lake Worth, with much of the shoreline incorporated in John Prince Park. It is easily accessed via John Prince Park, which offers ample shoreline access, fishing access from piers, and a two-lane paved boat ramp in excellent condition with an additional boat ramp located within the John Prince Lake
Osborne in John Prince ParkPark Campground. The lake provides above-average fishing for largemouth bass, bluegill and redear sunfish, channel catfish and exotic Mayan cichlid. Other species include black
crappie (specks), sunshine bass stocked by the FWC plus peacock bass. Some outstanding largemouth bass fishing can be found there, with fish exceeding 8 pounds. A brochure with map are at MyFWC.com/fishing, click “Freshwater,” “Sites & Forecasts,” “South Region” and “Lake Osborne.”
Okeeheelee FMA is a 157-acre lake conveniently situated in West Palm Beach. This site offers fishing from the shoreline as well as piers. Okeeheelee FMA contains an abundance of native sunfish and hatchery-raised catfish. The catfish are stocked each year to maintain a steady supply of fish for anglers. FWC fisheries biologist John Cimbaro has been co-managing the lake with Palm Beach County for over 15 years.
“While Okeeheelee bass average less than 14 inches, their abundance here offers plenty of action and fun on light fishing tackle or fly fishing gear,” said Cimbaro. “This is also a perfect spot for someone who is learning to fish for bass to get lots of practice.”
Gasoline motors may not be used on boats at Okeeheelee, making it a peaceful site to fish from kayak or canoe. A brochure with map are at MyFWC.com/fishing, then click on “Freshwater,” “Sites & Forecasts,” “Fish Management Areas” then “Lake Okeeheelee.”
Along with fishing enhancements, both sites offer abundant parking, lakeside trails, playgrounds, picnic pavilions, restrooms and other amenities for a great family trip. Both Okeeheelee and John Prince Park are owned by the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, and ensuring access to beaches and water bodies are a core service of their department.
The RBFF’s Take Me Fishing and Vamos A Pescar campaigns held a nationwide vote to provide families with a recommended list of locations to visit. Criteria for these top locales included not only the quality of fishing and boating, but proximity to urban areas for easy access and the presence of amenities that contribute to a fun family outing.