Orlando Guide to Boating, Fishing, and Eating on Lake Harris and the Dead River in Lake County

© 2011 Mission Inn Resort & Club

For the last several years I have wanted to rent out a pontoon boat and go boating on one of Orlando’s several chain of lakes. As a child I grew up on boats with my adult family members always taking the lead of being captain of the boat so I didn’t really know where to begin on my quest of renting a pontoon boat in the Orlando area. During a recent visit to Mission Inn Resort and Club located at Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, I finally got my chance when I was able to visit their marina located on Lake Harris and spend a great day boating and fishing with my family.

We are very blessed in the Orlando area to have so many lakes around us. Whereas the east and west coast of the state are centered around the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Orlando and the Central Florida area have some of the best lakes that are interconnected through canals in many cases. It is that reason why the Orlando area is home to many of the top professional water skiers and wake boarders in the world. To the south of Orlando is the city of Lakeland and to the north of Orlando is Lake County. Lake County is where Lake Harris and the Harris chain-of-lakes is located.

Boating and Fishing on Lake Harris and the Dead River

Getting started and renting a pontoon boat from the Marina del Rey was very straight-forward once you are shown how to throttle the gas when turning off and on the boat. Lake Harris is a very large lake and is surrounded by a lot of cypress tree’s and wildlife including many different types of birds and alligators. I couldn’t help but feeling during the boat trip that I was living the “Florida Lifestyle”.

There are a couple of islands within a short driving range from the Marina where you can put in your fishing poles provided by the Marina (Fishing License required for adults) and fish for bass. We found that a popular fishing spot was the Dead River that connects Lake Harris to Lake Eustis where many lily pads can be seen (see video below). There is also fishing and other recreational facilities available at the popular Hickory Point Recreational Facility nearby that has a dock to pull your boat up to and picnic benches. We weren’t able to make it on our trip but we have heard that the Dora Canal is also very picturesque that connects Lake Eustis to Lake Dora.

Lake Harris Restaurants

There are several restaurants to choose from when boating on Lake Harris. The most popular restaurant is Hurricane Dockside Grill that has a boat dock to pull up to on the Dead River and had live music on the day that we visited. On Little Lake Harris that is south of the Marina is a watering hole popular with the locals that serves up seafood and also has a dock by the name of Jb Boondock’s Bar & Grill (see map below).

Overall, we had a really great day out on the boat with memories that will last a lifetime. If you are visiting Mount Dora or Lake County, this is a great way to spend the day with friends or family as the pontoon boats seat up to 10 individuals. If you are staying at Mission Inn Club and Resort, they can set you up with your Marina request at the front desk.

Marina del Rey Prices

You can rent a pontoon boat at Marina del Rey for 4 hours at a rate of $130 or 8 hours at a rate of $240 Tuesday through Friday (Marina is closed on Monday). The rates for Saturday, Sunday, and Holidays are $30 more of $160 and $270. Boat rentals include gas, oil and safety equipment.

Two Passenger Fishing Boats are also available at the Marina.

Click here for more information about boat rentals from Marina del Rey.

Boating on Lake Harris

Lake Harris Boating, Fishing, and Eating Map

View Lake Harris and Marina del Rey in a larger map