For almost 50 years, the lake has provided a natural habitat for wildlife in North Florida, as well as a popular fishing spot for local anglers.
“Suwannee Lake has had a history of being a really good fishery and growing a lot of big bass and panfish for the anglers that like to catch those,” said FWC biologist Allen Martin, who’s been helping oversee the project. “Over time, the habitat had just degraded and the fish populations declined, therefore fewer people were coming out here to fish.”
Some of the renovations have included removing muck off the lake’s bottom, planting new vegetation, restocking the lake with various kinds of Florida sport fish, and providing better access for anglers. This involved building 2 islands on the south side of the lake.
“If you want the fishery to remain good on a lake where you have this stabilized water level, it’s pretty important to do some habitat work and some management. Otherwise, it’s going to degrade over time,” Martin said. “By doing this, they’re definitely able to increase the fish population and provide a better fishing place for anglers to come for years.”
The renovations have also generated renewed interest in the lake, including regular customers at Green’s Marine and Outdoors in Lake City.
“They’re excited about having a new fishery, a renewed body of water, enhanced access, and an improved habitat,” said Lee Beach, a Green’s store clerk. “I think it’s a win for the citizens here in Live Oak, Lake City, and the surrounding areas.”
According to Martin, FWC plans to restock the lake with another batch of sport fish soon. While officials don’t have a specific date set to reopen the lake, they hope to reopen it either at the end of the year or in early 2016.