Lake Tarpon is a 2,534-acre Fish Management Area near Tarpon Springs, in Pinellas County. Although the largemouth bass population and size structure is excellent, fishing pressure is relatively low. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) fisheries biologists regularly sample bass during electrofishing surveys on this lake. In fact, Lake Tarpon is rated one of the Top 10 bass lakes in the state of Florida by FWC fisheries biologists. Primary largemouth bass fishing areas are found among the weeds which rim the shoreline. Bulrush (buggy whips), cattail, and tape grass beds are good places to try. Offshore humps, particularly with submerged vegetation, are productive and bass will school and chase shad in open water during the summer months. Public boat ramps are located at the county parks off U.S. Route 19 and County Road 611 (also known as East Lake Road). These parks are open sunrise to sunset and also offer fishing piers.

Lake Tarpon

Lake Tarpon Management Area


The Lake Tarpon Management Area is located in the East Lake region of unincorporated Pinellas County just east of Lake Tarpon. This part of the county has experienced dramatic changes over the years caused largely by urbanization. Remarkably, the natural communities within the management area have undergone very little change.

The property has remained relatively intact and untouched by forest cultivation and encroaching development. It provides unique insight into the natural characteristics of an old-growth, wetland forest. The Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners acquired the land in 1997 and 1998. This natural area, which is closed to the public, is managed Parks & Conservation Resources.


Located within the Lake Tarpon Drainage Basin, the natural groundwater flow of this management area is governed by nearby Lake Tarpon and associated canals. Elevation ranges up to 10 feet above sea level. Low-lying areas within the region flood frequently. Soils are predominantly classified as mucks and represent a highly variable mix of sand, decomposed organics and peat accumulations. The natural communities are a tightly intertwined and complex mosaic of mature floodplain swamp, floodplain forest, and bottomland forest, depending upon subtle differences in the natural land features throughout the area.

The northwest corner of the property is slightly higher in elevation, perhaps as a result of the dumping of spoil when canals were dredged. Growth in that portion of the property is characterized by tall pines, low shrubs and grasses.

The management area sustains an impressive, diverse array of native plants, with a cathedral-like forest canopy and magnificently large old-growth trees. Species include pop ash, sweetbay magnolia, swamp tupelo, laurel oak, pond cypress and American elm.

Some disturbance has resulted from neighboring residences, which has encouraged the spread of invasive, non-native species such as air potato, skunkvine, Chinese tallow tree, carrotwood and guinea grass. Rare species found in the area include Virginia chain fern, netted chain fern, giant airplant, northern needleleaf and Florida butterfly orchid.