Polk, Hardee, Desoto, Charlotte counties
This scenic river runs south for over 100 miles from Lake Hancock, north of Bartow to Charlotte Harbor. Popular with canoeists, the Peace River offers excellent fishing for largemouth bass, bream, and catfish. Snook weighing over 30 pounds migrate from Charlotte Harbor and are caught year round as far north as Fort Meade. Bass, snook, and catfish prefer deep holes around tree snags where flow is strong. Tarpon are also caught in the lower Peace River. Commission maintained boat ramps are located near Fort Ogden at Deep Creek off CR 769 (Kings Highway) in Desoto County, and near Wauchula on CR 652 in Hardee County. Depending on water levels and other conditions, additional limited-access points are sometimes available. Locations follow: US 98 east of Ft. Meade; west of US 17 at Gardner; west of US 17 at Brownville; west of Arcadia off SR 70; and at Lettuce Lake south of CR 761. Bank fishing opportunities are available near Gardner.
The Peace River offers a great opportunity to experience Old Florida. Aside from the wildlife and occasional canoer, you may have stretches of river all to yourself. With such little pressure compared to the lakes in the area, you can expect to encounter some feisty fish. Fish around snags and deeper holes in the river with live wild shiners and soft plastic lures to catch Largemouth bass. Bluegill, redear sunfish and spotted sunfish (stumpknockers) can also be found in and around the snags along the river bank. These panfish can usually be caught on crickets, red wigglers, and crappie-jigs below a bobber. Sunfish are fun to catch with ultra-light spinning gear or fly-rod, and put up quite a fight. Catfish can be caught on chicken livers, commercial stinkbaits, and frozen shrimp in deeper holes and near snags. Black crappie (specks) can be found in backwater areas, use live Missouri minnows fished around snags, or drifted in open water for best results. Snook can be caught in the lower river with live finger mullet around bridges and docks, or try using larger artificial baits such as the DOA Baitbuster and MirrOLures for some great action. Check the FWC’s Florida Fishing Regulations Saltwater Edition to get the latest news on closed seasons and harvest regulations.