Top 10 Bass Lakes: A Travel Guide to Fellsmere Reservoir, Stick Marsh and Kenansville

These triplets in Central Florida are perennially some of the best bass fisheries in the southeast.

Last year, this trio claimed the top slot in the southeast, but angler pressure has slightly dimmed the allure of these Florida lakes located spitting distance apart in the far southeast corner of Osceola County. And while you might see more company on a visit to Fellsmere (also called Headwaters), Stick Marsh or Kenansville, you’re also nearly certain to bump into a giant.

This year, Florida’s TrophyCatch program has logged an 11-8 out of Fellsmere and a 13-10 out of Kenansville. Both outshine the otherwise hulking 9-6 pulled from Stick Marsh. And more are sure to be lurking. So pack your bags, leave the mouse hat at home and point the truck to Central Florida where big bass and a boatload of extracurricular activities abound. Here’s what to do and where to stay on your next visit to the Sunshine State’s most famous trio of bass lakes.

Go coo-coo for Cocoa Beach

Major Nelson may no longer be residing in Cocoa Beach, but Florida’s Space Coast remains one of the most entertaining slices of sand on the eastern seaboard. Get to know a different side of Cocoa Beach with a bioluminescent kayak tour from Epic Paddle Adventures before rocking over to the Cocoa Beach Pier for a Coney Island-esque night of fun and games. Nearby, visitors can soak in the Florida Surf Museum to see historical artifacts from surfing’s history before booking a class at Ron Jon Surf School.

Explore Cape Canaveral

Cape Canaveral offers an array of captivating ways to explore its rich space history. Begin with a visit to the Kennedy Space Center, where interactive exhibits and awe-inspiring artifacts reveal the wonders of space exploration. The Cape Canaveral Space Force Station also welcomes guided tours to historical launch sites. Visitors can embark on bus tours to launch pads and the Apollo/Saturn V Center. For an immersive experience, delve into astronaut training simulations and touch a piece of moon rock before setting back out to a launch site of your own.

Investigate Sebastian’s Fishing Museum

The Fishing Museum at Sebastian Inlet State Park immerses travelers in the rich maritime heritage of the Space Coast. Visitors can discover a captivating collection of fishing artifacts, boats, and interactive displays that showcase the evolution of fishing techniques and equipment.

Engaging exhibits shed light on the area’s history as a fishing hub, from its indigenous roots to modern-day practices. Explore the museum’s well-preserved boats and delve into the lives of local fishermen through photographs and oral histories. Hands-on activities, such as knot tying and casting demonstrations, offer interactive experiences perfect for the family.

Meanwhile, seaside lodging geared for anglers, like Captain Hirams Resort, deliver a top-shelf, vacation experience within a reasonable distance of the ramps at Kenansville. Just be prepared to swap big bass stories with saltwater anglers chasing the area’s renowned population of snapper and snook.

Local eats

Kenansville, population 453, is hardly a bustling metropolis; however, a handful of local eateries will bail you out of a ferocious appetite. Griffi’s Cafe serves up homemade southern classics like fried catfish, hush puppies and banana pudding. El Rancho Cocina Mexicana is a go-to for savory quesadillas and sizzling fajitas. And north of town, healthy fast-food franchise Nature’s Table delivers sesame, chipotle and citrus protein bowls brimming with quinoa and spinach.

Set up camp at Lake Marian

Lake Marian may not receive the accolades of its close-by cousins, but the sprawling resort and marina on its shores is one of the closest places to basecamp for a nearby expedition in search of giants. While most lakes in Central Florida are capable of producing leviathans, its the proximity of the RV sites and hotel rooms at Lake Marian Resort that make this place a draw for anglers bound elsewhere—the resort sits just 30 minutes from the relatively remote trifecta of big bass fisheries nearby.

An onsite tackle shop can help anglers fill in the gaps in their arsenal. Meanwhile, convenient—if quaint—hotel rooms provide a solid night’s sleep before heading out on the water.

Bring your own RV? Florida Fish and Wildlife operates two free, primitive campsites with picnic tables and vault toilets at Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area, practically on top of your final destination.

Ride to the River Ranch

Anglers looking for an upgraded lodging experience should consider the Westgate River Ranch Resort, just 30 minutes west of Kenansville. This preposterously decadent dude ranch was voted the number one glamping destination in America by USA Today Reader’s Choice. And while we’re not checking the Sunshine State’s credentials on cowboys, the resort is flush with unique overnight digs that include canvas glamping tents, luxury lodge rooms and cottages.

You can even take in a dang rodeo or hop on horseback for a ride around the Central Florida countryside on your stay. Bizarre, but memorable.