WHERE THE HECK IS GOODWIN LAKE??
by Jim Porter
Bet a Coke you don't know. Well, maybe a very few anglers know about it. I have been on Goodwin four times and I have only seen one other boat. So, I figure people either tried the lake and bombed out, or they just have not heard of it yet.
I am a bit hesitant to say anything about it, because I virtually have this little fishing jewel all to myself. But, what the hey. I catch a lot of fish because I am so lucky (my Mother and my Wife say I 'smell a little like fish' and that's why they come to me so readily). Other that try Goodwin may not do as well. Then, I'll have it all to myself again!!
Take a look at the map image. It is a poor drawing that I copied it from, but I will try and explain it.
On the north edge of the Stick Marsh is a man-made waterfowl hunting area. It is a series of marshland plots with levees around them. Lake Goodwin is in the east-center of these plot areas. Goodwin is actually a series of borrow pits - one large pit and a couple of small ones, all interconnected. It was from these pits that the dirt was obtained to build the waterfowl area levees. Due to the high water table of this location, the borrow pits filled fast, forming a man-made lake. If you have fished phosphate pits, it is a very similar structure.
The local fishery biologist that works the Stick Marsh/Farm 13 complex, Bob Eisenhauer, inherited the flooded borrow pit for a study project and stocked the lake with fish taken from electro-shocking in the Stick Marsh. I have no details on that study, as of yet.
Always looking for something different, my wife and I, as well as a couple of friends, have fished the lake. You can do and I will explain how at the end of this writing.
We used our restored antique Skeeter Hawk boat and trusty 1958 5.5 HP Johnson outboard to fish Lake Goodwin. Coupling those basic assets with one of our equally antique Lowrance 'Little Green Box' depth finders, we were able to very effectively explore Goodwin and identify most of its features.
We found only the large borrow pit of the lake to be predictably productive. In that pit, we discovered the remnants of the old roadbeds used by the digging equipment and trucks to remove the dirt. These are now approximately 6 feet under the surface and surrounded by 10-12 feet of water. We also found a lot of mounds and small humps out in the open water areas, probably resulting from coquina rock or limestone that was not wanted.
The bottom of the majority of the pit is covered with a very fine form of aquatic grass. I have not taken the time to identify it yet, but the vegetation is NOT hydrilla or milfoil. The grass grows in a very tight mass and generally is 1-3 feet in depth. Out in the area where the well-defined humps are, this grass tends to grow on the top of the hump. One part of the pit is a large flat area, with little bottom variation. There the grass grows all across the bottom, actually forming another 'bottom', of sorts. With the water depth being 8-10 feet and the grass growing 2-3 feet high, the result 'pit bottom' to be addressed with lures is actually realized as 6-7 feet of depth. That solid mass of grass determines the lure selection criteria used.
We have averaged approximately 30-40 fish a trip (usually about 5-1/2 to 6 hours of fishing). The average size is near 2.5 lbs., with a lot of 3-4 lb. bass. Each trip, except one, we have taken one fish in excess of 6 lbs. On our first venture to Goodwin, Lou Daniels had an old fish that was 30 inches long, but only weighed 6-7 lbs. Obviously, this was, at one time, a real trophy bass. But, she appeared to have been on a major health decline.
We found the area of constant depth, with the grass-covered bottom, to have a LOT of bass all over it. This area is about 200 yards square and has accounted for all the larger fish, as well as a big wandering school that averages 3.5 lbs. We have addressed those fish with lightly weighted plastic worms, Stik-O jerk baits, and any number of shallow plugs, spinnerbaits, and Rat-L-Traps. In addition, we have used small domestic shiners. All produced well.
The next productive locations were, of course, the old roadbeds. So far, we have only used plastic worms and the Swimming Worm on these locations. We have taken a lot of fish, with most coming from locations that also had grass patches. These fish appear smaller, on the average, and run 1.5 to 2.5 lbs.
We discovered a possible problem with the bass population in Goodwin, in that about 1 out of 6 bass caught would be very skinny. They appeared healthy, but very thin when compared to their length. This was much more predominate out on the submerged roadbed areas. Bob Eisenhauer is aware of this issue.
Lake Goodwin is open to fishing on Monday and Thursdays, from 9 AM to 4 PM. There is a 35 HP limit for boats (this is a ludicrous requirement, in that anything over 5 HP would be dangerous in the canals and sharp turns). In that the concrete ramp is very narrow, only small boats will work anyway. Only 2 boat a day are allowed. Some very limited bank fishing is possible, but is not recommended.
Reservations for fishing the location can be made by calling the Melbourne Fisheries Office of the Florida Wildlife Commission at 321-752-3315. A record of you times and catches must be made and turned in afte5r the day on the water.
Recommended sites by The Fishin' Tipster
A common question that we get: "Is there somewhere close to get bait and tackle?" This is where we get our bait.
Pete and Tina Heinz / 9 South Mulberry St. / Fellsmere, FL 32948 / 772-571-9855
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