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 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:

Fishing is anticipated to be better in the Santa Fe than Suwannee River this year due to the cyclical nature of these systems and the timing of high and low water events. However, fishing is expected to be productive again in the upper and middle Suwannee within the next year or two. Water levels were also very favorable for producing a good panfish spawn this year. Look to catch those fish in a couple years. That being said, this traditionally is the time of year to catch bigger fish. In both the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers, black bass (Largemouth and Suwannee) are moving throughout the rivers. Fish outer bends of either river for both types of bass with soft plastic baits (crayfish colors). Target fallen treetops, log jams, and vegetation edges realizing that where the emergent vegetation stops is where deep water or currents prevent growth. These areas should be spots that attract and hold fish. Cooler water makes for likely areas that would attract fish. A degree or two of difference in water temperature might be the key to locating fish that are feeding. Mullet are common and can be seen/heard jumping regularly. Wrap filamentous algae around your hook, toss homemade chum balls (oatmeal consistency) in the area of your float, and wait for a hard fighting mullet to drag your bobber down. Catfish can be taken by fishing live or cut baits around downed wood and especially in deep holes. Bream are in shallow water and should bite crickets or small artificial lures cast close to the bank and around woody structure. Target all sunfish when the water levels fall to where the cypress knees are most abundant. Lower Suwannee River tidal creeks at low tide corral panfish into deeper holes. Locate these holes, typically on outside bends of the channel, and use small spinners tipped with shrimp. At high tide, look for redbreast near the pads on the inner bends. Keep an eye on rainfall as heavy storms can cause rapidly-rising water levels and poor fishing in short order. If heavy rains cause flooding, try to hit the river as water levels begin to fall after cresting. Monitoring the Suwannee River Water Management District’s web page for updated water levels for both rivers will keep you informed at External Website.

FWC Facts:
Tarpon are also known as silver kings, tarpum, cuffum and sábalos.

Learn More at AskFWC