By Tim Huffman
Deland Florida is a good vacation area for crappie fishermen and their families. Volusia County is huge and includes Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach and Deland Florida. The St. John River and its chain of lakes provides great fishing for many species including crappie.
“Deland is the more natural, old Florida,” says Georgia Turner, Executive Director of West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority. “We have 14 communities. Our theme is “Old Florida, New Vibe” because we have our really nice old downtown with murals but we’ve had good growth since the recession giving us our new feel and new vibe. For recreation we have our State Parks, year round swimming, downtown with shopping, and we are a short trip to the beaches and Orlando attractions.
“We are big here on bass and crappie fishing and cater to those fishermen,” says Turner. “Our closest lake is Monroe so we can certainly brag about our fishing. Our exposure to that has increased since Crappie Masters has been coming here.”
Hontoon Island State Park- Accessible by private boat or the electric ferry, offers a quiet retreat on the St. John’s River. Hike or bicycle the 3-mile round trip self-guided trail that includes the Dead River and large Indian mound. Canoe and kayak rentals available, too, along with a store for essentials and souvenirs.
Blue Spring State Park- A National Gold Metal Award Winner, the park is the winter home to more than 200 manatees. Stroll along the one-third mile boardwalk and watch the manatees swim, rest and play in the warm waters. Cabins, canoe and kayak rentals and river cruises are available.
DeLeon Springs State Park- A place to swim, canoe, kayak and paddleboat. A boat ramp and dock are available. Also, go for a hike or picnic. A great and different treat is the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant featuring breads and cook-your-own pancakes made from stone ground flours.
Deland, Florida is a great crappie fishing destination. It’s easy access to the St. John’s River and the associated lakes, especially Monroe. Mix the fishing with family fun of nearby beaches, Orlando about 45 minutes away, state parks and the town, it’s no wonder it’s a great place to go. Recommended peak crappie fishing months: January thru March.
Contacts: www.FloridaStateParks.org; Tourism at: www.visitwestvolusia.com, 800-749-4850.