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): 10
Trophy Club (10 – 12.9 pounds): 2
In both the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers, black bass (largemouth and Suwannee), are moving throughout the rivers. Any feeder creek mouth or oxbow like pocket would be a likely spawning ground for bass and panfish. Target these features thoroughly with soft plastics or live baits. Redbreast sunfish fishing is starting to pick up with a few reports of modest bags caught while pitching ultra-small crank baits toward the banks from drift fishers. If seasonal showers in either drainage cause water levels to raise fishing success with drop quickly. Monitor the internet (Suwannee River Water Management District) for daily levels and be ready to fish when waters recede to the cypress tree root zone, this is the best time to catch river bream. As nightly temperatures, warm, catfish activity will increase and these rivers are well known for their quality tasting fish. Use traditional catfish baits (worms, liver, stink bait, or cut bait) with an egg sinker. Anchor upstream of a log jam or river bend and allow the scent of your baits to draw out lurking big guys.