Located adjacent to the City of Kissimmee in Central Florida. The 18,810-acre West Lake Tohopekaliga has long boasted a reputation among both recreational and tournament anglers of producing excellent fishing and trophy largemouth bass. The lake received national attention during year 2001 when professional angler Dean Rojas broke the all-time B.A.S.S. tournament record for total weight with a catch of 108 pounds of Trophy Bass. During the four day competition, two 40-pound-plus limits, 21 bass over 10 pounds, and 251 five-fish limits were brought to the scales. Two-and-one-quarter tons of Trophy Bass were weighed in during this fishing tournament.
An extreme draw-down and habitat enhancement project was conducted on the lake during spring 2004 to enhance critical shoreline habitat for Trophy Bass and wildlife utilization. In all, 8.4 million yards of organic material, and associated vegetation that was too thick to provide good fisheries habitat, was removed from 3,506 acres of lake bottom. Subsequently, rainfall from the rash of hurricanes during 2004 quickly re-filled the lake to normal levels.
Most anglers targeting trophy bass use live golden shiners during early spring. Shiners are fished inshore near native vegetation or topped-out hydrilla. Plastic baits (worms, crawfish and lizards) flipped along grass edges, hydrilla, and bulrush will also catch quality-sized bass. Spinnerbaits, soft jerkbaits and chugging baits can also be very productive at times. Both Texas-rigged and Carolina-rigged plastic worms, and rattling crankbaits, top the list of favorite lures during warmer months of the year.
North Steer Beach, Brown’s Point and Goblet’s Cove are popular bass fishing spots on the lake. Fishing in Shingle Creek and St. Cloud Canal can be outstanding when flow is present through these tributaries. Eight, man-made fish attractors hold good concentrations of Bass in deeper areas of the lake during the summer.
The Butler Chain of Lakes is located in southwest Orange County. Historically, the Butler Chain of Lakes have been renowned for their excellent water quality and good fishing and are heavily used for recreational activities such as boating and water sports. The Butler Chain of Lakes is composed of thirteen (13) lakes of varying sizes that flow south toward Reedy Creek, the Kissimmee River, Lake Okeechobee and then the Everglades. The Butler Chain of Lakes was the first lake system in Florida to receive the designation of Outstanding Florida Waters from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in 1985 because of its water quality and wildlife habitat.
The Butler Chain of Lakes has over 5,000 acres in surface water; distributed in the following 13 interconnected lakes: Down (900 acres), Little Lake Down (23 acres), Wauseon Bay(100 acres), Butler (1,600 acres), Louise (140 acres), Isleworth(86 acres), Blanche (121 acres), Chase (135 acres), Tibet-Butler (1,200 acres), Unnamed lake (14 acres), Sheen (656 acres), Pocket (126 acres) and Fish (23 acres). The Butler Chain has a total of 32 navigable canals.
Windermere Water Navigation Control District (WWNCD)
The lakes in the Butler Chain are part of the WWNCD, which also includes these lakes: Bessie, Brenda (Hour Glass), Burden, Buynak, Crescent, William Davis, Estes (Cypress), Sawyer(Butt), Little Lake Sawyer (Robinson), Story, Mabel, Rhea, South Lake, and Sloat. The WWNCD is the largest lake MSTU in Orange County, including 27 lakes having a combined surface water area of over 6,000 acres.
The WWNCD Advisory Board was created on August 2, 1963, by the Florida Legislature. On March 21, 2006, it adopted the name Butler Chain of Lakes Advisory Board (BCLAB) to better describe its responsibilities. The BCLAB consists of five members appointed to four-year terms by the District Commissioner and approved by the Board of County Commissioners to advise Orange County on boating regulations, waterfront construction, canal maintenance, flood plain alterations, lakes patrol services, protection of public riparian property rights, aquatic weed control, and pollution control for the preservation of water bodies.
Water quality in the Butler Chain of Lakes is generally excellent, with most of its lakes having Trophic State Index(TSI) averages between 20 and 40. However, during 2005, the draft verified list of impaired water bodies for the Kissimmee River Basin was released by the FDEP and included Lake Butler as an impaired water body, because of changes in historic TSI values. Lake Butler water quality returned to its historic average in 2009 and was removed from the list of impaired water bodies.
Over the past 10 years some short-term algae blooms at the Butler Chain had been raising concerns with nutrient contributions from a wide range of sources such as: Stormwater runoff and baseflow, groundwater seepage, inflow from interconnected water bodies, wetland impacts, atmospheric deposition and boating activities in shallow areas.