Windermere: Prior to the 1500s, the area was inhabited by the Timucuan Indians, and by 1564, by the Spanish. The United States purchased the eastern half of the state from Spain in 1821 and Florida became a state in 1845. It was around 1885 that Englishman Joseph Hill Scott purchased 150 acres on the southern shore of Lake Butler for his two sons, Stanley and Douglas.
Eventually, Dr. Stanley Scott homesteaded the property and named the area Windermere, many believe, after Lake Windermere in England. Additional settlers, many from England, came over to the area soon after. During this time, Citrus Groves were planted and the Florida Midland Railway was constructed through the area. By 1920, the population of Windermere was numbered.
Today, with a population estimated at 3,800, the Town of Windermere is a quaint mixture of old and new homes with many of the original sand roads that wind through the town still remaining, reminiscent of its rich heritage and character.
This picturesque 4,720-acre chain is made up of 12 interconnected lakes. The Chain of Lakes was formed as a result of a typical Florida occurrence which is known as "karst topography". In this occurrence, limestone (found under the majority of Florida soil) is slowly dissolved by water to form sinkholes. A series of sinkholes formed over time created what is now called the Butler Chain of Lakes (also known as the Windermere Chain).
There are areas in these lakes that reach depths of 50 feet and are believed to be the remnants of those old sinkholes which helped form this beautiful chain of lakes.
Waste Water Disposal: Homes around the Butler Chain of Lakes dispose of waste water in septic tanks. Given enough space between houses and at least 150-foot distance from the lakes, modern septic tanks and drain fields are an accepted method of disposing of waste water.
The state of Florida has strict regulations and codes regarding the installation of septic tank systems, and they require regular maintenance to continue functioning properly without despoiling the lakes. Sludge should be pumped as often as required, depending upon the amount of use, and the system should be inspected every three to five years.
Protecting the Water Quality of Our Lakes: Waterfront property slopes to the waters edge. Some lake edges are steeper than others. The steeper the slope, the faster rain runs off toward the lake, carrying sediment, nutrients, and pesticides with it.
Engineers have shown that a system of swales and berms can slow down the rush of water toward the lake and hold back the solids. A swale is a shallow ditch parallel to the edge of the lake, and a berm is a low mound closer to the lake and parallel to the swale. The swale catches rain runoff, which is held back by the berm. Impurities sink to the bottom of the swale and the cleaner water on the surface spills over the berm when the swale becomes full. The water in the swale evaporates into the air and percolates into the soil, recharging the aquifer and returning clean water to the lake.
Swales and berms are an important drainage device for protecting the quality of water in the Butler Chain lakes. It may take only a six-inch swale to provide protection for the lake. Swales and berms can also be attractive landscaping feature when planted with colorful, moisture-loving native plants.
Alligators: Q: Are alligators dangerous to humans?
A: Yes, large alligators can be dangerous, particularly those that have been fed by people. Feeding alligators and other wild animals is not only illegal, but causes them to lose their fear of humans. They become bold, aggressive and come to expect more food, which can be dangerous to people and ultimately to the animals themselves. A mother alligator protecting her nest or young is very dangerous.
Alligators are naturally afraid of humans. A lot of water skiing, tubing and swimming takes place on the Butler Chain of Lakes and there have been no known alligator attacks on humans. However, being in the water after dark is unwise. If you are towing your child on a tube on the lakes and you spot an alligator--stop and bring your child into the boat.
Fishing in the Butler Chain: The Butler (4,927 acres) Chains of lakes are all very similar in that they are relatively deep for Florida lakes (20 - 50 foot holes), have abundant submerged vegetation and good large-mouth bass fisheries. This 4,720-acre chain is made up of 12 interconnected lakes.
The Butler Chain is known for its excellent large-mouth bass fishing. Most successful bass anglers pay attention to the bottom contours of the lakes offshore structure where 4- to 5-pound bass are commonly produced. Live shiners free-lined over grass edges, humps, ledges, and drop-offs adjacent to spawning flats is one method to consistently catch quality bass in the winter/spring (Try Lake Butler). Jigging spoons fished over deep-water humps can produce 20-fish days when the water gets cold and fish congregate tightly (Try Little Lake Down). The lakes also have relatively unknown and unstudied black crappie (speck), bluegill and redear sunfish (shellcracker) populations, but anecdotal angler reports and field observations indicate a fishery exists for all three species.
Expect to see schooling fish almost twelve months out of the year. These schooling fish sometime average 3 - 5 pounds, but in most cases are smaller. Carolina-rigging in depths of 8 - 30 feet is a great producer all year.
It is nice place to fish where you can catch big numbers of bass with an occasional big fish, though just being on this Chain for the day is worth the trip. If you enjoy topwater, this is where you'll want to be if you're looking for some fun.
The Lakes of the Butler Chain
The Butler Chain of Lakes is Orlando's premier lake chain offering 12 lakes full of pristine water. The lakes are connected by canals and offer great opportunities for water sports such as wake-boarding, skiing, barefooting and fishing. The real estate fronting on the chain has seen great appreciation in the recent past and is the site of many of Orlando's most prestigious homes.
In the following descriptions, the lakes will be arranged in boating order from North to South.
Lake Down is the northern-most lake in the Butler Chain with 872 acres of ski-able clear water. Public Access is located at Conroy-Windermere Road across from the Isleworth entrance and at R. D. Keene Park and Boat Ramp at 10900 Chase Road, just south of Windermere.
Neighborhoods on Lake Down include Sunset Bay, Down Point, Windermere Oaks, the city of Windermere (east side of town), Harbor Isle, Marina Bay (features a community dock, but no ramp), Lake Down Village (provides community access), Windermere Downs (provides community access), and The Lakes (provides community access).
Exiting the lake via the canal on the western side, the boater travels under the main street of Windermere to Wauseon Bay. Please remember that all canals are NO-WAKE zones.
Little Lake Down is entered via a somewhat hidden canal on the west side of Lake Down. The canal is to the north of the main canal between Lake Down and Wauseon Bay. You can ski there, but its really too small for skiing. Public access is the same as for Lake Down. Homes on Bayshore Drive are the only ones with frontage on Little Lake Down. The OARS high school crew teams usually put-in on the west side and often use this lake and parts of Lake Down for practice.
Wauseon Bay is a smaller body of water which essentially acts as a conduit from the west side of Lake Down to Lake Butler. It also provides lake frontage for many homes in the city of Windermere. Skiing is possible on the western part of Wauseon Bay, but the east side from Bumby Point to the canal is restricted to a no-wake zone on the north side of the bouys due to the proximity of docks. From the south exit of Wauseon Bay, the boater moves onto Lake Butler.
Lake Butler is the largest lake of the chain and it offers 1,665 acres of ski-able, high-quality water. Public Access is the same as for Lake Down. It might be noted that the city of Windermere has a Residents-only ramp onto Lake Butler. Many people will anchor and party on the north side of Bird Island on weekend afternoons.
Neighborhoods on the lake are the city of Windermere (community access), Isleworth Country Club (community access to Lake Tibet), Chaine Du Lac, Lake Butler Sound, and Kelso on Lake Butler (community access). The canal out is located on the south side of the lake adjacent to the western end of Isleworth Country Club property.
Lake Louise is a 50 acre lake which is a way-point on the canal from Lake Butler to Lake Tibet. Lake Louise is a long, narrow lake. Because of this length, you can often see boats towing skiers from one end to the other. Isleworth Country Club is the only community which fronts on this lake. Isleworth community access is found on the north end of Lake Tibet. Exiting to the south, the boater will find a lengthy canal to Lake Isleworth.
Lake Isleworth is a somewhat circular shaped pool of about 10 acres on the canal south of Lake Louise. The R. D. Keene Parks boat ramp is found on this lake. Isleworth is the only community which fronts on this lake. The canal out of Lake Isleworth to the south leads to Lake Tibet.
Lake Chase is 135 acres fronted by Isleworth Country Club, Isle of Osprey, and part of Bay Hill Country Club (community access). From the canals exit into Lake Tibet, the entrance to Lake Chase is just past the Isleworth floating docks to the east. This lake offers a good location to ski if there is too much wind or traffic on the larger lakes. However, it may become too congested at times. The exit to Lake Blanche is at the northeast corner of Chase and passes under the bridge to Isle of Osprey first. This is a longer and narrower canal with some parallel boat docks on the east side. Larger boats might find difficulty in passing an oncoming boat in this tight space.
Lake Blanche provides 121 acres of placid frontage to parts of Isleworth Country Club, Isle Of Osprey, and North Bay. It is a circular pool which becomes too congested to ski if there are more than about 3 or 4 boats present. The only way out is through the canal back to Lake Chase.
Lake Tibet is the second largest lake on the change with 1,198 acres. It is longer than wide and has bays on both the east and west side. Neighborhoods fronting on this lake are Isleworth Country Club, Keenes Point (found in the northern-most bay on the west side), Cypress Point, Bentley Park, Pointe Tibet, Bay Point, Bay Hill (private marina accessed through 2 canals from the long narrow bay on the east side) and Cypress Isle. There is a slalom course set up on the south east side of this lake right in front of the Cypress Point homes. The south western side of this lake fronts a nature preserve. Exiting from the south side of the lake between the multi-million dollar homes of Cypress Point and the homes of Cypress Isle is a short canal into Lake Sheen.
Lake Sheen is 565 acres of circular shaped lake which offers good fishing and plenty of room to ski. It is the site of the Orange County Sportsmans Association club; a private membership boat launch and picnic facility. Membership is currently about $250/year for a family with one boat. The waiting list tends to be 18 to 24 months in length and memberships are rarely available so, if you're new to the area, its a good idea to put your name on the list. Neighborhoods fronting the lake are Cypress Point, Cypress Isle, the Kilgore road lake-front homes, and Lake Sheen Reserve on the southwest side (offering community access) along with some additional homes on the west side of the lake. The canal on the south side of the lake leads to Pocket Lake.
Pocket Lake is roughly circular in shape and covers 126 acres. There is a well-maintained slalom course on the west side of this lake. Homes fronting the lake are located on Kilgore road, Darlene, and Charles E. Limpus road. None of these homes are in formally established communities. The canal found on the southwest corner of Pocket Lake leads to Little Fish Lake. Warning: This canal is over 1/4 of a mile in length with two right angle turns and usually contains obstacles such as sunken logs, so take care for your prop when going through.
Fish Lake or Little Fish Lake is about 30 acres and is often fairly weedy. There is one neighborhood located on the lake and along a neighborhood canal and that is Turtle Creek. The only exit is through the canal to Pocket Lake.
Cypress Lake is 65 acres of private ski-lake fronted by Kelso on Lake Butler. This lake used to be part of the Butler Chain, but the canal has gradually filled in and now is impassible.
The Sand Lakes Chain
Big Sand Lake is 1,110 acres with no public access. The lake is ski-able and fishing may be good at times. Water levels are subject to fairly large seasonal fluctuations which, along with shallow margins, necessarily makes docks quite long in many areas. The Neighborhoods on the lake are Bay Vista Estates (community access), Sand Lake Point (community access), Sand Lake Cove, Phillips Landing (community dock), Vizcaya (community clubhouse), and the time-share properties on the east side of the lake which have had a water-sports business operating from their lake frontage.
Little Sand Lake is the other component of this chain. The lake size is 156 acres and it is fronted by Grenada Villas (community access), Vizcaya and commercial developments.
Other Notable Individual Lakes
Lake Burden is a nice, private ski lake with about 40 acres of water. It has a slalom course which is currently accessible only to Keenes Pointe residents who have a community access ramp and park.
Lake Bessie is 156 acres situated between Isleworth and Windermere. There is no public access, but the residents of both areas can waterski on the lake.
Lake Sawyer is a 93 acre ski-able lake with a canal to Lake Butt (probably soon to be renamed). This lake is fronted by Sawyer Shores.
Lake Butt is about 70 acres and is ski-able and fronted by Windermere Lakes.
Lake Mabel is a larger lake with 412 acres. It is ski-able but has no public access. There is some lake frontage in developing neighborhoods. The southwest part of the lake fronts on Disney property.
Lake William Davis is a small lake (about 25 acres) adjacent to Cypress Lake. It is ski-able, but with no public access. Neighborhoods on the lake are Tildens Grove, West Lake Butler Estates, and Kelso on Lake Butler.
Lake Crescent is a larger crescent-shaped lake with 172 acres of ski-able space. It is only available to residents of Windermere Club, Butler Bay, the Manors at Butler Bay, Crescent Lake Estates and some individual homes on the lake, but not in neighborhoods.
Lake Roper is 35 acres in extent and is ski-able for residents of Sunset Lakes.
Lake Roberts is 95 acres of private ski-able water available to residents of Windermere Club/Butler Bay and Waterford Pointe.
We get it because we do it. We know what lakefront buyer's want and need in a lakefront property--and why. Let us help you find your perfect lakefront paradise on the beautiful pristine waters of Central Florida lakes. And don't forget, these lakes have as much to offer anglers and their sport as they do waterports enthusiasts. These are true lifestyle properties. We have boats available to tour lakefront properties from the water for qualified Buyers.
|Lake Name||Total Surface Acres|
|Little Fish Lake||23|
|Lake Mary Jane||1158|
|Rock Spring Run||60|
|Lake Cay Dee||12|
|Lake Gem Mary||14|
|Lake Lorna Doone||15|
|Lake Mare Prairie||118|
|Lake of the Woods||4|
|Little Lake Fairview||79|
|Lake Name||Total Surface Acres|
|Big Lake Harris||15,095|
|Little Lake Harris||3,427|
|St. Johns River||980|
|Pine Island Lake||417|
|Stagger Mud Lake||224|
|Big Bluff Lake||201|
|East Crooked Lake||160|
|Apopka Beauclair Canal||150|
|West Crooked Lake||1070|
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