Rodman Reservoir, nestled between Gainesville and Palatka in North Central Florida, has been the focus of a heated debate for years. Formed in 1968 by the damming of the Ocklawaha River, Rodman Reservoir, or Lake Ocklawaha, was created as part of the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Construction of the canal was abandoned in 1971, but Rodman Reservoir remained.
From its inception, the removal of the dam on Rodman Reservoir has been argued both for and against for a multitude of reasons.
What cannot be debated is that Rodman Reservoir is one of the most outstanding largemouth bass fisheries in the state. Rodman consistently produces quality fish and has a reputation for producing big bass over 10 pounds.
In 2000, the reservoir produced a 17-pound two-ounce largemouth bass that narrowly missed beating the state record. While fish of that caliber may be rare, largemouth bass in the eight to 10 pound range are not uncommon.
The lake has large mats of aquatic vegetation and expansive stump fields from the flooded trees. The fish have no shortage of cover and anglers will require heavy gear if they plan to muscle these bass from their hiding spots.
A stout rod and heavy fluorocarbon or braided fishing line is a must for fishing the grass and stumps as these fish have a knack for breaking lines and hearts.
The abundance of structure and habitat contribute to the healthy bass population but make boating on this reservoir treacherous.
Fluctuating lake levels will dislodge stumps and trees from their resting place and winds will carry them into navigation channels. Boaters must exercise caution at all times to avoid risking a dangerous and costly encounter with one of these rogue stumps.
In addition to largemouth bass, Rodman Reservoir has become a favorite spot of many species from alligators to bald eagles. Outdoor enthusiasts looking to record a personal best fish or catch a glimpse of a variety wildlife that Florida has to offer need not look further than Rodman Reservoir.