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About Windermere and the Butler Chain

August 20th, 2007 · 21 Comments

Most first time visitors to the area may say that it is a little further away from everything than Dr. Phillips, but for luxury living at its best, look no further than the Town of Windermere. Pristine sand bottom lakes surround this small West Orange community. Boaters and Bass fisherman will love the system of canals that connects eleven lakes known as the Butler Chain of Lakes comprised of Lake Down, Little Lake Down, Wauseon Bay, Lake Butler, Lake Louise, Lake Isleworth, Lake Chase, Lake Pocket, Lake Tibet, Lake Sheen, and Fish Lake. The most popular types of boats to navigate the chain are ski boats, pontoon boats, and bass fishing boats. Lake Butler is the largest lake in the chain and houses a island bird sanctuary commonly referred to as “Bird Island” which many boaters use as a gathering place. A large blue pontoon boat covered in speakers, coolers, and of course a grill named “Grillin and Chillin” is a fixture there on most popular weekends and holidays. You also see Fish from Yellow Dog Eats quite often as well. Some popular neighborhoods on the Butler Chain include Isleworth, Lake Butler Sound, Kelso, Keene’s Pointe, Windermere Downs, Marina Bay, Osprey Isle, Tibet Pointe, Bay Hill, Emerson Pointe, Cypress Isle, Cypress Point, and Chaine du Lac.

Lake Down is the northernmost lake but when the water levels become too low or high it becomes difficult to make it through the canal to the rest of the chain depending on the type of boat you’re in. Lake Tibet is the second largest lake in the chain and the Bay Hill marina offers a place to buy gas while on the chain. Another place to get gas on the chain is the Orange County Sportsman’s Club on Lake Sheen. A Sportsmans’s Club membership is a sought after commodity in Southwest Orlando because it’s only just a few hundred bucks a year and you get 2 boat ramps, boat storage, clubhouse, and a beach for your weekend boating excursions. The waiting list for membership typically runs at least two years but like many clubs, knowing the right person could expedite the process. To join the legions of boaters waiting to join, membership information can be obtained at 407-876-2010. The only public access to the Butler Chain is at the R.D. Keene Park located on Chase Road in Windermere and during the summer months the 47 parking spaces fill up by the early morning hours. The Lake Down ramp does provide another place for access but there’s no place to park so what’s the point.

Probably the least desirable lake on the Butler Chain, if there is such a thing, is Wauseon Bay because much of the lake is a no wake zone. Dont’ get me wrong, I’d take a house on Wauseon Bay in a second. Heck, I’ll take one on one of the canals. The waters on this chain are crystal clear and are spring fed. Most lakes in Central Florida such as the Clermont Chain, Conway Chain, Winter Park Chain, Harris Chain, and Lake Toho tend to have bathwater temperatures during the summer months but the deep clear water in the Butler Chain remains cool even in the peak summer months. The only complaint I have about the Butler Chain of Lakes is that I can’t afford a house on it but other than that, boat houses on docks are no longer allowed and the pre-existing boat houses have been grandfathered in.

The depth, temperatures, and water clarity also contribute in making the Butler Chain one of the best for bass fishing. It’s a little less renowned then the nearby Kissimmee Chain, but the locals know that the Butler Chain is pretty comparable and a heck of a lot easier to fish.

Just like anywhere else in Florida, flipping soft plastics in heavy cover and carolina rigging places with a hard bottom is extremely effective all year round. Spring brings spawning season and the best time of the year for sight fishing bedding bass. The water on these lakes are about as clear as it gets, so the big fish tend to come out of deep water structures. The old saying that 90% of the fish are behind you when you’re throwing towards the bank definitely holds true here especially in the summer.

There’s so many different types of places to fish here and most of them are easy to access. Jigging a texas rigged worm, drop shotting, and shaky heads work well on deep water structure and other popular baits include: Senkos, Trick Worms, Flukes, small bladed willow leaf spinnerbaits with a translucent skirt (I like the 1/2 oz Revenge Deep Runner), Rat-L-Traps (also using the Xcalibur Rattle Bait in the Ghost color and the Strike King Red Eye Shad in the Sexy Shad color), and crankbaits with colors suited for really clear water. I like the sexy shad and ghost colors on my crankbaits and the watermelon and pumpkin colors work well for Senkos and worms. I like spinnerbaits and crankbaits with wind on the water and slower presentations with calmer water.

When the water temperature is below 60 degrees, there’s no bait more effective than the slashbait. My favorite is a Glass Ghost color X-Rap Rapala in the smaller size. If you want the very best, then try the Megabass Vision 110 which goes for around $25.

Fishing on the Butler Chain is a lot more pleasant during the weekdays with far less boaters crowding the waters. The fish bite all year round, but your best chance to catch the bass of a lifetime is during the Spring spawning season. Tim Fey, a resident of SW Orlando, is a well known guide along these waters who authors Bass Fishing Florida, a great resource for finding out what lures are working where.

This chain of lakes makes waterfront living in Windermere the premier location to live in Southwest Orlando. Windermere was given its name from Dr. Stanley Scott, whose father purchased 160 acres in this picturesque location in 1885. Dr. Scott built his home on the shore of Lake Butler, and it is believed by many that he named this town after England’s Lake Windermere. A book entitled Windermere Among the Lakes by Carl D. Patterson, Jr. published in 2005 creates the most detailed account of Windermere’s history.

Today, more than 2,300 people inhabit the Town of Windermere. The community, however, has not based its success on how rapidly it grows, but on how natural and pleasant a community in which it is to reside. Windermere tries to focus on preserving the town’s natural state and strong community atmosphere. The town’s quality of life is its most distinguishing feature. In fact, many of the town streets remain unpaved to continue their commitment to retain the pristine nature of the chain of lakes. The only paved street is 2nd Avenue which leads to Bumby Point, a peninsula that lies between Wauseon Bay and Lake Butler.

For luxury living with a small-town feel, you can’t beat the Town of Windermere. The Windermere Police Department, although comprised of I believe just 3 officers, have a reputation in the area for handing out speeding tickets for going even a mile an hour over the speed limit so beware. They’re probably bored from the lack of crime so I guess I can’t blame them. Other than that, the dirt roads, small town feel, and the canopy of age old oaks makes Windermere a really neat place to call home.

An event that everyone looks forward to is the Windermere Boat Parade held every Christmas where decorated boats cruise the waters of Lake Butler and Wauseon Bay.

Click this link to see a stunning QTVR of the Butler Chain of Lakes created from a helicopter by Ed Fink of Big Eye in the Sky.

click fishing map to view in full screen

related post: Private Lake Access on the Butler Chain

related links: Butler Chain of Lakes Ecology, Butler Chain Conservation Association, Orange County Environmental Protection Division, Butler Chain Fishing Tips, Central Florida Fishing Report, Large Topographical Maps of Each Lake on the Butler Chain

Street View of Downtown Windermere

View Larger Map

Tags: SW Orlando Communities · SW Orlando History

21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Private Lake Access on the Butler Chain | Hojin's Southwest Orlando Real Estate Scoop // Nov 5, 2007 at 11:17 am

    […] Sportsman’s Association are two places in SW Orlando that you can gain private access to the Butler Chain of Lakes and have a place to store your boat. Both places do have a place to get gas so you don’t have […]

  • 2 Angel Moroni Sits Atop SW Orlando // Nov 11, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    […] of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints located off Apopka-Vineland Rd. at 9000 Windy Ridge Rd., Windermere, FL 34786. The Orlando Temple was built in October of 1994 and sits on 13 acres. It has 4 ordinance […]

  • 3 Waterstone to Become the Newest Luxury Community on Lake Butler // Dec 2, 2007 at 12:18 pm

    […] to be built along the shores of the famed Lake Butler called Waterstone. It will be located in Windermere off Winter Garden-Vineland Rd. and adjacent to Windermere Preparatory School. No information on […]

  • 4 The House of Dreams in Windermere // Dec 21, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    […] An undertaking of more than 14 months of planning and 2.5 years of construction, the Chateaux des Reves is truly one of the finest works of architecture that grace the shores of the Butler Chain of Lakes. […]

  • 5 Tiger Wood’s Windermere Home in Isleworth // Dec 22, 2007 at 12:39 am

    […] is the most famous celebrity in SW Orlando without question. He owns two properties/cribs on the Butler Chain of Lakes in Isleworth according to the Orange County Property Appraiser website. His golf villa is located […]

  • 6 Southwest Orlando Zip Codes // Jan 1, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    […] Windermere 34786 […]

  • 7 Florida Homes and Mortgage Report » Blog Archive » Finding the Southwest Orlando School That’s Just Right // Dec 20, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    […] Orlando School That’s Just Right I just had a conversation with some prospective home buyers for Windermere today and they reminded me how important schools are in deciding where to live… Scenius by […]

  • 8 Update on Glenmuir // Aug 21, 2009 at 9:55 am

    […] been decent activity in the community of Glenmuir located between C.R. 535 and Chase Rd. in Windermere with 8 sales in past 4 months ranging from $183,500 to $405,000 and it’s been taking an […]

  • 9 C. Kasten // Dec 12, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    When is the annual Holiday Boat Parade on the chain??

  • 10 Hojin Chang // Dec 14, 2009 at 11:58 am

    The Windermere Boat Parade is on December 19th this year like it normally is. The route will start and finish on Bird Island but check their site for more details on the route.

  • 11 The Oldest Residence in Windermere // Jan 6, 2010 at 11:11 am

    […] located at 306 Palm Street along the shores of Lake Butler with Bird Island within view on the horizon and adjacent to 2nd Avenue where many of the Windermere elite reside […]

  • 12 Vacation Home Rentals // May 26, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    I would like to see a piece on David Siegel’s planned residence sale. It seems he is asking a pretty hefty price for this unfinished mansion.

  • 13 The Unfinished David Siegel Mansion Goes on Sale for $75 Million // Jun 23, 2010 at 11:24 am

    […] named “Versailles” in the guard gated community of Reserve at Lake Butler Sound in the Town of Windermere for sale at $75 million “As […]

  • 14 Silliman Homes at Waterstone // Jun 25, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    […] Silliman Homes, formerly Reiche Silliman, is now building in the community of Waterstone, the last gated community on the Butler Chain of Lakes. […]

  • 15 HAFA Adds Much Needed Improvements to Short Sales // Aug 5, 2010 at 11:50 am

    […] sales have flooded the marketplace in Dr. Phillips and Windermere the past few years with real estate transactions characterized by response times for offers taking […]

  • 16 Bubba in Dr. Phillips // Aug 16, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    […] he’s made Dr. Phillips his home and the Butler Chain his backyard. His new home in the guard gated community, Isle of Osprey, was featured in this […]

  • 17 Communities with Land and Mature Trees SW Orlando - Real Estate Scoop // Dec 15, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    […] to choose from. Currently prices range between $400,000 and $700,000. The deeded lake access to the Butler Chain of Lakes on Lake Down makes this community even more irresistible. The homes with frontage on Lake Down […]

  • 18 The History of Isleworth - SW Orlando Real Estate Scoop // Dec 15, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    […] name of Isleworth in Windermere brings thoughts of Tiger Woods and exclusive multi-million dollar mansions today, but it’s […]

  • 19 Windermere Wakefest 2009 | // Oct 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    […] The week long festival as well as the 2 day wakeboard tournament raises money for local charities and provides a week full of fun for residents in Windermere. […]

  • 20 You Can Now Search the MLS on the SW Orlando Real Estate Scoop | // Oct 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    […] You can only search for properties in Central Florida, but this blog is all about Dr. Phillips, Windermere, and the rest of SW Orlando […]

  • 21 Battle Between East and West at Lake Nona | // Oct 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    […] couple of years. Come on Tiger, keep the cup on this side of town. Everyone in Dr. Phillips and Windermere are pullin for […]