Bradford County

Lake SampsonFWC recently completed a fish community survey on Lake Sampson. Good numbers of bluegill and redear sunfish were found in the south and southwest side of the lake. Live bait, such as earthworms and crickets, is a good choice for bream and can be fished around vegetation in the shallower portions of the lakes and around the masses of vegetation away from shore. Forage fish are abundant in the northern portions of the lake which may attract largemouth bass and pickerel. Also, don't forget to fish any structure you might find in deeper areas late in the year. Bass anglers still tend to head into Lake Rowell where the numbers of larger fish may be better, but keep looking for new areas in Lake Sampson as well. Texas-rigged soft plastics and crankbaits are some of the most popular choices. At the time of this writing, water levels in these lakes were still high enough to allow boat anglers to access Lake Sampson. Additionally, water levels were high enough to prevent some anglers from passing under the railroad trestle to access Lake Rowell; however, most low or small boats can still pass.

Local contact: The Slab 904-964-9374


Popular species:

Popular fish species

Fish graphics by Duane Raver, Jr.


TrophyCatchTrophyCatch Tracker

TrophyCatch External link is FWC's citizen-science program that rewards anglers for documenting and releasing trophy bass 8 pounds or larger. The following TrophyCatch bass have been submitted from Lake Sampson and Lake Rowell:

Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 11

Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 2


 Current Forecast:

Bluegill and redear sunfish can be found all over the lake. Live bait, such as earthworms, crickets, and grass shrimp are good choices for bream. Panfish should remain active throughout the summer. Anglers targeting largemouth bass should throw soft plastic baits around both nearshore vegetation and submersed offshore vegetation. Casting crankbaits in deeper, weed-free open water can be a productive tactic. Black crappie could prove more difficult to find in the late summer, but anglers targeting them should focus their efforts offshore using minnows and jigs. Trolling and drifting are two effective methods for locating these fish. The key is to cover as much water as possible until you start catching fish. Once you find fish, stay on them until the action drops off. Pay special attention to both water and lure depth, boat speed, and lure color if you do get into fish, and try to use that information to duplicate your success in other areas of the lake. Keep an eye out for sunshine bass schooling and feeding on shad at the surface of Lake Sampson as well. If you happen to see these aggressive fish busting bait, quickly make your way to the activity, but quietly close the final distance with a trolling motor to avoid spooking the fish and driving the school down. Anything white, shiny, or minnow-shaped should produce strikes in this situation. Submerged vegetation in Lake Rowell should provide a good target for bass anglers. Soft plastics and deep diving crankbaits are some of the most popular choices.

One note of particular interest is the ongoing progress being made in the Edwards Bottomlands Wetland Mitigation Project in Starke, FL. According to the Suwannee River Water Management District, the goal of this project is to restore a more natural floodplain function to a portion of Alligator Creek and its surrounding land. The creek had been artificially channelized in the 1930s. As a result, Lake Rowell (which receives water from Alligator Creek) has been dealing with excessive sedimentation, nutrient/pollutant loads, and other issues stemming from the unnatural straightening of the creek. Through the use of earthmoving equipment, streambank stabilization techniques, and other engineering methods, managers are literally re-shaping the creek into what a creek should naturally look like. A preliminary site visit during construction efforts in May showed a creek with numerous bends, holes, and other natural features. Sportfish such as Largemouth Bass, Redbreast Sunfish, and Bluegill could be seen in the restored sections of the creek. Ultimately, this project should lead to improved habitat and better fishing in Lake Rowell.

FWC Facts:
Studies indicate fish-and-wildlife activities contribute more than $36 billion a year to Florida's economy.

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