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A fisherman removes a gizzard shad from netting that was used to trap it as part of the harvest of “rough fish” at Lake Apopka.

A fishing story: Improving water quality in Lake Apopka, one fish at a time

By Ed Garland

The story of Lake Apopka is similar to that of the mythical Phoenix, one of decline followed by gradual rebirth. And a pesky, bottom-feeding fish called a gizzard shad.

Stretching across northwest Orange and southeast Lake counties, Lake Apopka is the expansive headwaters of the Ocklawaha Chain of Lakes. The state’s fourth-largest lake was once a world-class bass fishery but decades of degradation garnered Lake Apopka the dubious title of Florida’s most polluted large lake.

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St. Johns River Water Management District
4049 Reid Street, Palatka, FL 32177
(800) 725-5922