(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, Gene's Bait & Tackle, Ft. White 904-497-2248.
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 .
Current water levels in the middle and upper Santa Fe River are on the low side. Most of the heavy woody cover is out of the water in these zones and fish are dispersed. Focus your fishing effort from the confluence of the Ichetucknee River downstream. If water levels remain similar during this season, cast/pitch crayfish imitations to the bottom drop off where bass are holding. When fishing fallen treetops or log jams you might choose to keep your bullet weight closer to your soft plastic by pegging the weight to the string with a thin piece of wood. This will help keep your weight from becoming entangled on branches while fishing thick cover. The cooler months are when red drum come into the river mouth and seek deeper holes. Bouncing fresh shrimp with lead head jigs just over the oyster shell covered bottoms is deadly. Moving water is always key and avoid casting your gig up stream of the flow because this tends to lead to hang ups. Frequently check your line for abrasions and nicks to prevent break offs once you have a fish on.