Columbia, Hamilton, Madison, Lafayette, Gilchrist, Alachua, Suwannee, Levy and Dixie counties
The Suwannee drains from the Okeefenokee Swamp through limestone shoals stretches to become a large flood plain river in the lower reaches. Drastic water level fluctuations characterize the river and keep the fishery dynamic. The Santa Fe is the major tributary, heavily influenced by springs and unlike the Suwannee, has vast areas of submerged vegetation in the middle and upper reaches. These areas harbor abundant freshwater shrimp, waterscuds and aquatic insects, thus producing excellent growth rates for fish, particularly abundant redbreast sunfish and pugnacious spotted sunfish (stumpknockers). The upper Suwannee has only tree roots and rocky shelves for fish structure. The lower Suwannee has a band of waterlilies and eventually in the tidal portion, numerous wooded and marsh-lined feeder creeks. High tide fishing is always slow with best fishing during lower tides. It is also helpful to remember that the outer bends are always deeper, sand bars are on inside curves and lilies on outer bend means the current has left the bank and panfish like to spawn here. Both Suwannee and largemouth bass occur. Large fish are not the rule and remember that all bass in the river, especially Suwannees, prefer to feed on crawfish, so crawfish-colored lures prevail.
Local upper Suwannee contacts: Suwannee River State Park 386-362-2746, Canoe Outpost 1-800-428-4147, Spirit of Suwannee Park 386-364-1683.
Local middle Suwannee and Santa Fe contacts: Sandy Point Marina 386-935-0615.
Local lower Suwannee contacts: Sid's Treasure Camp at Fowler's Bluff 352-493-2950.
The enacted "No Wake" zones from Dowling Park downstream to the upper estuary have been lifted.
Note: Boaters should be extremely cautious on both rivers, as low water has made clearance over sand bars and other underwater hazards less certain. Use low water periods to develop better understanding of what exposed areas look like under normal river levels. Also available are current water levels throughout Florida on the Internet at www.usgs.gov.
Fishhound also offers a fishing forecast for the Suwannee River .
TrophyCatch 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 the Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 9
Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 2
There have been numerous reports of good fishing for panfish such as bluegill, redbreast sunfish, and spotted sunfish in both of these rivers. This good fishing should continue into the spring. To target these tasty fish, use natural baits such as crickets pitched up near the shore amongst cypress knees and other woody structure. Artificial lures such as beetle spins and tiny crankbaits will also produce fish. Reports have also surfaced about good fishing for largemouth bass in the Suwannee River. Good fishing should continue into the winter and spring with your best bet to be working artificial lures, especially soft plastics, near snags and woody structure or around any vegetation you can find. Catfish can also be taken by fishing live or cut baits around downed wood and especially in deep holes. Anglers looking for a unique opportunity to catch Suwannee bass can do so by fishing much the same as they wood for largemouth bass. Suwannee bass tend to target crayfish, so take advantage of this fact by flipping a jig & pig or any crayfish-imitating bait. Further downstream and closer to the Gulf, anglers can expect to find saltwater species like spotted seatrout and redfish. As the weather cools, these fish will congregate in deeper holes and should take baits such as live shrimp or a jig bounced slowly along the bottom.