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Deer Point Lake is located north of Panama City, off of US 331 and SR-77. Primarily used as a public water source, Deer Point Lake is also used for irrigation and recreational purposes. With approximately 4,572 surface acres of water and subtropical temperatures, Deer Point Lake is an excellent place to get away and enjoy many recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, canoeing, camping and more.
Construction of a dam across the northern portion of North Bay in 1961 impounded water flow from Econfina Creek, Bear Creek, Cedar Creek, and Bayou George, thus creating Deer Point Lake. Econfina Creek is the most significant tributary to Deer Point Lake, contributing about 57 to 79 percent of the lake's inflow. The Deer Point Dam, managed by the Northwest Florida Water Management District, controls the outflow of water into North Bay. The reservoir provides more than 760 gallons of fresh water each day to Panama City and the surrounding areas in Bay County. Deer Point Lake also provides a valuable watershed for fish and wildlife, including osprey nesting grounds.
Fishing is very popular at Deer Point Lake and is best known for its shellcracker. Largemouth bass is also very popular in early spring to early summer and again in the fall. With access to the old creek channels of Bear, Econfina, and Cedar creeks as well as two fish camps at Deer Point Lake, Cherokee Landing, and Tharp's Camp, anglers will enjoy many opportunities to reel in a big catch.
Deer Point Lake, along with the cold, clear waters of Econfina Creek, provide many recreational activities. The Econfina Creek Water Management Area has over 42,000 acres of surrounding land and offers primitive campsites. Although no reservations are needed, visitors must have a Resource Area permit that can be acquired at most county tax collecting offices. Group camping can be found at Blue Spring, Rattlesnake Lake South and Sparkleberry Pond. The Resource Area permits are also required to hunt and fish on Deer Point Lake, and a Group Area Permit Application and fee are required for Group Camping areas. There is a 22-mile-long canoe trail along Econfina Creek with the upper portion having many rapids which are an exciting challenge for experienced canoeists. For trail lovers, the Florida Trail Association crosses much of the Econfina Creek Water Management Area.
Due to the fact that Econfina Creek provides 80 percent of water during drought condition to Deer Point Lake, the Water Management District started buying property along Econfina Creek for the purpose of protecting the natural freshwater resource. In 1990, the Deer Point Lake SWIM Plan was developed. SWIM stands for Surface Water Improvement and Management which was an Act of Florida Legislature devoted to watershed management and public awareness of water preservation. The SWIM Plan for Deer Point Lake was to preserve the water quality of the lake and for its continued use for public water supply. Although the SWIM plan is not currently active, the goals for Deer Point Lake still remain the same.
Deer Point Lake is to be enjoyed, but it should also be protected so future generations will benefit from the clear fresh drinking water that the lake offers. So when anglers cast in their lines for that trophy largemouth bass, or campers enjoy the clear water, they should remember to help keep the lake a clean and beautiful place to visit. Deer Point Lake is a wonderful recourse and an excellent place for a getaway. The whole family will enjoy Deer Point Lake.
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