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Sprawling live oaks dripping with Spanish moss next to beautiful white sand beaches combine with exceptional fishing to make Lake Weir an enchanting Marion County, Florida destination. Its proximity to the Ocala National Forest and all the attraction of Disney and the Orlando area ensure visitors never run out of things to do.
The Timucan Native Americans were the original inhabitants in the area around Lake Weir. In the 1600's Spanish missionaries came to the area, and by the mid 1600's the native people had been decimated by European diseases. During the 1700's the Creek Indians were forced south into the area by the British. Eventually known as the Seminoles, the Indians farmed the area around the lake. In the 1800's Lake Weir was named for US Army Lieutenant Weir who was killed near the lake by the Seminoles.
Sometimes referred to as Lake Weir and Little Lake Weir, the lake is really a single lake with two lobes. The southwest lobe is the part of the lake known as Little Lake Weir. There is residential development on three sides of the lake. Oklawaha, the nearest community, is on the North shore. The area to the east and the south was once covered with citrus groves.
In 1875 Captain John L. Carney and E. L. Carney bought the land that came to be known as Carney Island. The brothers planted a 25-acre citrus grove. Eventually there were citrus groves all around Lake Weir, and the fruit was carried across the lake by steamboat from a packing facility to the railroad. A hard freeze in 1894 killed the groves, but the trees were reestablished. In 1984 another hard freeze destroyed the groves again.
Carney Island is really a peninsula. The land was bought by the Coca Cola Company who sold it to Marion County in 1990. The County established Carney Island Park, and today visitors use the park for picnicking or hiking. There is a sand beach for swimming and several loop trails that wind through the gorgeous live oaks.
With almost 6,000 acres of water and a maximum depth of over 20 feet, Lake Weir has plenty of water for boating, both power boats and sailboats, and water skiing. There is a marina with a restaurant, and a good public boat ramp including barrier free ramps. The white sand beaches offer exceptional swimming, and there is a private beach club. Seaplanes also take off and land on the lake.
Lake Weir has exceptional shellcracker fishing in March and April. There are healthy populations of bluegill and largemouth bass. The night fishing is excellent, and during the season there are weekly fishing tournaments. Lake Weir is rimmed with grass and pond weed making good fish habitat.
Nearby Ocala National Forest has 383,000 acres of wildlife to explore. It is the southernmost national forest in the continental US, and it has huge springs. Visitors to the forest can snorkel in the springs. Its proximity to Lake Weir makes it an easy day trip. Disney and Orlando are also only an hour away.
Sailboats on white sand beaches and live oaks dripping in the Florida sun make Lake Weir a visually stunning destination. Add the fantastic fishing, boating, and swimming and a trip to Lake Weir is sure to satisfy anyone. Vacation rentals are available on Lake Weir, so pack your bags for a fun-filled getaway.
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