Call to action: Crucial meeting about hydrilla management on Florida’s Lake Apopka; anglers urged to attend

PALATKA, Fla. — The St. Johns River Water Management District has a meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. ET Tuesday at its district headquarters.

B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Gene Gilliland says anyone cares about the health of the Harris Chain of Lakes — or Florida bass fishing in general — should make it a point attend.

“The St. Johns River Water Management District received a permit from Florida FWC to ‘control’ 30,000 acres of hydrilla in Lake Apopka,” Gilliland said. “There has been little information available to the public on just what that means. But every bass angler knows what an important role hydrilla plays for not only the quality of bass fishing in Apopka, but for the health of the fishery itself.”

Lake Apopka, which is widely regarded as one of the best bass fisheries in the Sunshine State, is one of eight lakes that makes up the fishery known as the “Harris Chain of Lakes.” Totaling about 75,000 acres northwest of Orlando, the lakes are connected by a series of canals and have played host to many major tournaments in recent years, including a St. Croix Bassmaster Open and a Strike King Bassmaster College Series event in 2023.

Lake Apopka was a major player in those events and will likely be again when the Bassmaster Elite Series visits the Harris Chain for a 2024 event April 11-14 — unless the landscape of the fishery is vastly changed.

“That’s why we need bass anglers to show up at this meeting, ask questions about the plan, and let the SJRWMD know that our interests need to be considered in their decision-making process,” Gilliland said. “Words like ‘management’ and ‘control’ can sometimes mean eradication — and we need to fight against even that possibility.”

Here are the details for anyone who would like to attend:

Governing Board Meeting
Nov. 14 at 10 a.m. ET
Board Room
SJRWMD District Headquarters  
4049 Reid Street  
Palatka, FL 32177