Happy Monday Spacefish!
This week I embarked on an adventure to fish a new chain of lakes for the first time ever, the Conway Chain in Orlando, so without further adu, let us jump right on in.
Why do you fish Orlando so much?
So to this point, I have covered a number of Orlando lakes in my time writing kayak fishing reports with Spacefish. We’ve done the Winter Park Chain, Ivanhoe, Underhill, and Estelle. But the reason why – reason #1, started with variety, on the Space Coast/Treasure Coast we really don’t have a lot of “lakes” we have the St. John’s River and the lakes that form off of it – some of which are accessible to a paddle angler; some are not. We have Fox Lake in Titusville, one of these days I am going to run through Fox and get into South Lake but there is no ramp for South Lake. The big ones for us are Headwaters and Stick Marsh, but they are technically in Indian River County, so I feel like the Treasure Coast is willing to contest our claim that they are our lakes.
That all being said, if you live on the north end of Brevard, from Rockledge/Cocoa up through Titusville/Mims driving to Orlando is easier and more time efficient than south to Headwaters and Stick Marsh. So I guess what I am saying is that reason #2 is geography.
Reason #3, and this is kind of the theme of my day at Little Lake Conway is that these lakes are just downright fun to fish. I have caught quality sized Bass at Ivanhoe and Underhill; but all of the others have been numbers lakes, and the Conway chain certainly falls under that category, and let’s be real with each other, as recreational kayak anglers we all love numbers lakes. If I am being completely honest I would rather go out and catch 20+ fish in an outing that catch a few with a good 5 pounder in the mix. Of course in a perfect world I would got out and catch 25+ fish and have an 8-10 pounder thrown in there, but as we all know, the world isn’t perfect.
Where to Launch
For this expedition, I launched from the Randolph Street Boat Ramp located at 5638 Randolph Ave, Orlando, FL 32809 – There are not a whole lot of great options for public parking outside of Randolph, there are I believe two other public ramps, but they do not offer as much parking as Randolph does – I had no issues with parking as I got there pretty early, but by the time I left that afternoon the parking spaces were tapped out.
There is another public ramp, called the Venetian Ramp with very limited parking, and there is a public park called Warren Park that I have been told is a good place for kayak anglers to park there and carry/roll their vessel and gear across the street to a public lake access area.
Fishing Little Lake Conway – Topwater
In prepping for this trip, I spoke to a few people that have experience fishing the Conway Chain and there were two main points of emphasis that were drilled into my head – point #1 is that this chain is known for numbers and not quality size; point #2 is that this chain supports a healthy population of Shad, and that you may have to move around to find the bait, then to find the fish; but once you find them to stay in that area.
So with that being said, I caught a fish on my first cast, but after 2 hours and a dozen or so fish, I did eventually leave the area – after leaving I went on a 2 ½ hour exploration with 0 bites, then returned for another hour to an hour and a half and caught another dozen or so fish. All in all I fished from 9:30ish to around 3:30/4ish and ended up with roughly 25ish fish caught. None were bigger than 2 pounds, and all of the fish I caught were within probably have a mile from the Randolph Ramp to the east. I tried a few things that did NOT work, so I am going to focus on the 3 approaches that did work. Sidenote – all three of the methods I will discuss below, I have on the water footage of catching a fish in all 3 ways on my instagram page – @spacefish_kayakangler and on my facebook pages – Knox Robinson… Go check them out if you have social media! (Shameless plug over).
The morning was chilly, but I did see some bait being chased around, and this was happening along shadow lines on the outside edges of docks on the south shoreline of Little Lake Conway, As the morning went by gradually those shadows being casted by the docks got smaller, but I had a good hour of good shadows and I casted around a new bait from the Hendrix Fishing Company, called the Plopper which is a 3.5 inch hard bait/plug with a prop on the back very similar to the original Whopper Plopper. I fished this plug in the Bone color. I fished it just fast enough to get the prop moving and was getting whacked pretty frequently, I caught a fish on my first cast and ended up catching 7 total small Bass within an hour. I fished this bait on a 7’ MH Casting set up with 50 pound braid tied straight to the plug. If you are interested in getting one of these plugs from Hendrix, their custom made tackle is made by hand right here in the USA and is currently available here. Their site relaunches on March 1st, and I can’t wait to take their Lime Frog Plopper on a hunt for Peacock Bass this spring!
Fishing Little Lake Conway – Sightfishing with a Trick Worm
As the sun gradually moved higher in the sky, the shadows disappeared and it was a bright and sunny, bluebird sky day. These conditions usually do not bode well for targeting species like Largemouth Bass, and Snook – but the water in the Conway Chain was so clean and clear, I was actually able to sight fish. Sight fishing for Bass in Florida is not something you usually hear in a sentence together, but you can really do that on the Conway chain. The water was a little deeper than I am usually used to seeing in Florida, but I noticed that fish were staged up near the bottom on the hard and sandy floor of the lake on the edge of vegetation. I originally targetted them with a weightless and weedless trick worm – pictured below.
But I noticed that the bait was taking too long to get down to the strike zone of the fish, I also noticed they weren’t chasing down the swimbaits, and speedworms I was rolling throught the vegetation and in in front of their faces. So I ended up rigging this bait on a ⅛ oz Spider Slider jighead which is perfect for trick worms, as it stands up on the bottom very similar to a shakey head. It was enough weight to get down in front of their faces, but not too heavy to spook fish, it also allowed me to work the bait slowly and in a manner that enticed bites. If you like fishing Trick Worms or even Fluke style soft plastic jerk baits, you should check out the Fish, or Die Bait Company “Musket” – it comes in a variety of color patterns and it is a a bait that can be rigged and fished in a variety of ways, the tail is very unique and when you split the diamond shape it turns this bait into a “fluke stick” type of bait that can be fished more aggressively than traditional trick worms. You can check these baits out here – and use code “Spacefish Recruit” for a discount.
Fishing Little Lake Conway – Covering Ground with a Swimbait
So as mid-day turned into afternoon, we finally got a little bit of cloud cover, and the sun had shifted into the western quadrant of the sky. I ended up coming back to the south shoreline to fish the same line of docks and the areas just outside and in between them where I had success earlier in the day. The cool thing about this return was on the way out from Randolph, pushing east in the morning the sun was behind the docks, where shadows were being cast on the west side, so as I went from dock to dock I was able to stay behind the sun and target fish that were staging in the shadows using this shadow line as an ambush point. Well on the way back in now moving from east to west I was able to do the same thing essentially the other way.
I felt like this was time to revisit a moving bait, I altrenated between a speedworm and moving bait, being as this was a lake known for numbers of smaller fish, and having a reputation of being a lake where the Bass primary forage is baitfish, I had a feeling that the 3.5 inch paddletail would be better. I ended up getting a hit on the swimbait and stayed with that for the rest of the afternoon catching roughly 10 small bass as I worked the dockline back towards Randolph.
I used the Fish, or Die Minutemen in Bugle (Green Pumpkin/Purple Flake) rigged on a Mission Fishin’ 3/0 Screwlock Hook with a ⅛ oz belly weight. I had it rigged with 30 pound green Beyond Braid tied straight to the hook. Mission Fishin’ is based in Titusville, and their make high quality jigheads and hooks in the USA and are definitely a company I like to shop from as much as possible – I get all of my Mission Fishin’ stuff from Strike Zone in Melbourne, located on 192. If you are interested in getting your hands on a pack of Fish, or Die swimbaits you can check them out here – and use promo code “Spacefish Recruit” for a discount, and if you plan on using them weedless I like them on a Mission Fishin’ Screwlock, if you like to use a jighead I love the DOA Cal or a Mission Fishin jighead purchases from Strike Zone in Melbourne.
The Tackle Industrial Complex
I plan on talking more about this in coming weeks, but in the wake of the Covid pandemic, the fishing industry is currently undergoing a transformation of sorts – during the pandemic the American public started buying fishing gear like never before and companies struggled to keep up with their supply to meet the demand. Due to global supply chain shortages many fishing industry companies were faced with a conundrum, so many companies were bought by PE’s (Private Equity) and some of these PE’s have already moved production of fishing baits, tackle and gear to 3rd world sweatshops to make more money per sale, but I have also noticed that no prices are dropping….so where is that excess money going? Greed is an age old problem, and has been so since the beginning of recorded history, and it’s not going anywhere, but in the meantime as much as humanly possible I try to buy fishing gear that is made in the USA or Japan – where working class families are given jobs that provide them economic security, and quality of gear and product is important. If I can support local Florida companies, I will! I plug a lot of Fish, or Die stuff – number 1, I do it because the stuff works, period. Secondly, here is a quote from the founder of the company, Taylor Magditch (who makes all of the baits by hand, in his home, with the aid of his wife and sons), in a text conversation we were having back in early January.
“Money generates greed. God willing we become much bigger in a few years and I can do it full time. Then over the years, I’d obviously love to not have to work and have workers working for us in a factory. That being said I’d rather make $1 per bag by paying American workers than make $3.50 per bag having it made overseas. Being able to fish everyday and not worry about bills…that’s all I need.”
At the end of the day, we’re all making decisions that affect our bank accounts, and God knows the economy isn’t doing us any favors so I have no judgement to anyone who buys gear and baits that are affordable and in their budget…but that being said, there’s a war going on for the future of the fishing industry and your consumer habits can help the good guys, or make the fat cats fatter. I never thought about these things until I started meeting people like the family behind Fish, or Die; and the family behind Kayaks by Bo; and the guy that started Hendrix Fishing Company; I don’t know the Mission Fishin family, but I know they are a small, local, family owned business, so yeah – I try to give them my business as much as I can.
Special Thanks & Conclusion
I’d like to give a special thanks to Chris, and his YouTube Channel – “Anarchy Fishing.”Check out his videos — I have learned a lot from them, and just really enjoy the content. He is a really good dude, and he openly shares information that make my life easier when fishing new spots in Orlando. He willingly shares anything and everything he can to help you find places to launch, and to have fishing success. Oh yeah, he is a pretty damn good angler too! Thank you Chris for all of the information you have me in preparation for this trip! I encourage everyone reading this to subscribe to his channel on YouTube!
The Conway Chain…it was a fun day of fishing, and would be a top recommendation to beginners due to it being a numbers lake, and like other lakes in Orlando, is relatively “gator free” which according to correspondences I have had, are a big concern newbie kayak anglers have getting started kayak bass fishing in Florida. It is a great lake to go if you’re new to the sport, or if you want to take your spouse and/or kids fishing. It is another good Bass fishing option that is roughly 45 minutes to an hour drive from anywhere along the Space Coast located just off 528. So go check it out for yourself!
Thank you all for reading, I would like to give a special shout out to Kayaks by Bo for being our official Paddle Partner. They just got new Old Town Fishing kayaks – specifially the Bigwater EPDL + 132, but they have a great lineup of other Old Town Fishing kayaks, and other leading brands.
I hope everyone has a great week ahead, stay safe, be happy and catch fish! Until next time!