Columbia, Hamilton, Madison, Lafayette, Gilchrist, Alachua, Suwannee, Levy and Dixie counties

Suwannee RiverThe 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. External Website

 

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 the Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers:

Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 12

Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 3

 

 Current Forecast:

Recent black bass electrofishing surveys near the Rum Island area on the Santa Fe River revealed several quality sized Largemouth and Suwannee bass. Target areas of sandy bottom with rocky outcrops, underwater shelfs, or woody structure. Typical soft plastics or live baits should produce bites from both species of bass. In both rivers, be on the lookout for signs of bedding as the bass begin/continue their annual spawn. In the upper Suwannee River, target areas of overhanging brush, around snags, or through vegetation such as pads. Those looking for panfish should check the lunar cycle and be prepared to mark the next full moon on your calendar. As the redbreast sunfish and bluegill spawn heats up, target shallow areas near shore using worms, crickets, or small beetle spins. Those after catfish should have success using any kind of smelly bait. Anchor upstream of your intended target, drop your line and allow the scent of the bait to drift down and draw out a big cat.

In the lower Suwannee River anglers will have an opportunity to catch both freshwater and marine species. Those after bass or panfish should focus their efforts up some of the many small feeder creeks. Quality sized spotted sunfish (stumpknockers) can be found up these creeks. When fishing for spotted sunfish in this area, check the tides. Time your trip around moving water (either outgoing or incoming flow) as this seems to get the fish active. Just be sure you don’t get caught stranded in a low tide.

Please be aware that as the river water warms Gulf Sturgeon will be making their annual migration up the river and will be jumping. They jump to fill their air bladders and communicate with other sturgeon, but they can be a hazard to boaters. Go slow, keep riders off the bow of the boat, and stay aware to avoid running into a jumping sturgeon which could cause serious injuries.



FWC Facts:
Florida's largest estuary, Tampa Bay, covers 440 square miles and has more than 300 species of inshore fish.

Learn More at AskFWC