Tenoroc is reclaimed land with a series of lakes or pits as some call them. These were formed by phosphate mining back in the 1960s. This habitat flows into the Peace River, and is managed by biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. There are many lakes, each with its own personality. The majority have well-maintained boat ramps, but allow only trolling motors. Only a few of the largest ones allow internal combustion engines to be run, and even then only at idle. Some are hand launch solely for kayaks and canoes. They are all managed, meaning there are strict limits on any bass you are allowed to keep. This is a place where you expect to not just fish, but catch, and the chances of bass over 5 lbs are great and over 10 lbs not uncommon.
Our weapons of choice were both fly rods and spinning rods. My buddies had their 6wt and 8wt rigs for larger bass.
My choice was a 3wt rod 7’6 “ five-piece rod and a super-lightweight Orvis ”Battenkill II” reel. This setup was recommended to me many years ago by Allen Wyatt at the Andy Thornal Company, and has provided more enjoyment than I could imagine. There is something about the shorter 7’” rod and ultra-light weight setup that make small bass and larger pan fish feel like you’re bringing in sea monsters from the deep. This will definitely make you smile.
Due to all the new fresh, cooling water from the past two days of rain, happy fish were jumping all over just like there was a hatch on a trout stream. We found a large culvert pipe draining water into the next pit. The fish were like salmon swimming against the current through the fifty yards or so of pipe, and then jumping out of the pipe into our lake right in front of us. It was a crazy sight, and never stopped the entire time we were there.
We caught a variety of fish, many with the fly rods. The fish were all dark in color; the bass were almost all black with some dark olive green. They hit hard, both near the rushing water and in the hidden pockets of the maze of surrounding islands. Small #4 dark-colored Clouser Minnows, imitating baitfish, were the fly of choice. We let them sink, then moved them erratically like a minnow darting to avoid an aggressor.
Next were bluegill, and then the older, larger copperheads.The name “copperhead” is the result of the deep purple coloration of mature bluegill males with a copper band across the top of the head. A Florida bluegill male will typically develop the coloration pattern when it is four years old or older, and it becomes much more vivid during the spawn (between April and September).
The last catch of the day was a beast of a tilapia on my ultralight spinning rod using a Blakemore “Roadrunner”. This fish, too, had taken on the dark coloration, almost like a record breaking copperhead with the same purple hue. This was one heck of a fight,as the fish was foul hooked in the top back fin. The way the drag was pulling made me wonder if I had monster bass, since I know there are many monsters to be had here.
Tenoroc is true old Florida. The land is beautiful, with a diverse habitat of marsh, woods, and water. There are hiking and horseback riding trails and bird watching - but most importantly, quality fishing for big largemouth bass and panfish of all kinds. This is remote territory with almost 7,000 acres of woods and water. With that comes respect and planning as you are the visitor and many of the creatures much larger than you. Watch your step, leave only footprints, and enjoy the sights of the rattlesnakes, moccasins, and massive alligators that will be joining you on every visit.
More importantly, catch some fish, - but most importantly, enjoy the sights and sounds of the great outdoors in a Tenoroc near you. Live life by the minute, and get outdoors and have some fun!