More information can be found on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission website, www.fwc.com.  Once on this website, click on “Recreation” then “Wildlife Management Areas” to find the location listed alphabetically. A visit to the Webb should be on the “must do” list for visitors and locals.  I’m sorry I waited so long, but I’m sure I will return.

     I had been a full time resident of Charlotte County for a bit more than a year and it was in 2011 when I made my first visit to the Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered this wonderful outdoor recreational area.  

The Babcock/Webb Wildlife Management Area

     Stories of champion sized bluegill, largemouth bass and freshwater snook lured my wife Nell and I there on this last weekend of January...a delightful day to be outside in t-shirt and shorts.  We drove along most of the length of Tucker’s Grade that bisects the property and stopped at several locations around Webb Lake to fish.  I was surprised by the sheer size of the 395 acre lake, which seemed to meander on forever with an expanse of fishy looking shoreline and scattered structure.

     This was a discovery trip, but of course I took a fishing rod. Unfortunately, the fish didn’t cooperate.  Several “shoppers” took a hard look at the tiny bluegill popper I was throwing with a 5-weight fly rod.  The fish were easy to spot in the clear water, but I didn’t have any takers on the popper or a small Mepps spinner rigged on an ultra light spinning rod, but it was fun trying.  As I fished, we also explored the territory.  

     Three boat ramps are spaced along the length of the road. The concrete ramps are adequate for a small boat, kayaks and canoes, but only electric motors and paddles are allowed in the lake. Several designated parking areas around the lake offer parking, small picnic shelters and grills located only a few feet from the lake’s edge.  

     Anglers can also try their luck in three marl ponds located near the main entrance with lots of space around the perimeter for fishing from shore.  These are managed and stocked ponds, with specific fishing regulations posted at each of the three. In addition to Lake Webb and the marl ponds, several smaller ponds are scattered around the site. A Florida freshwater fishing license is required to fish any of the ponds and lakes, and a fee is required to enter the WMA.  

     The "Webb" is not only for fishermen.  Shooting enthusiasts will find an excellent public shooting range with pads for rifles and pistols.  There’s a large bird dog field trial area and designated hunting areas for deer, feral hogs and quail, walking trails and the wilderness habitat provides outstanding bird watching. 

          The Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area is located only five miles from Punta Gorda, just east of
Interstate75 at exit 158, but its nearly 80,000 acres of open lands and wilderness are literally a breath of fresh air.  

As with any body of water in Florida, visitors will also find a population of resident alligators and we spied a handful on the day of our visit.   Bikers of all ages will enjoy the paved roads with little traffic and mountain bikers can test their skill on several trails that snake through the property. I was also surprised to find several primitive, but comfortable, camping sites occupied with everything from tents to motor homes.