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:

Look for fishing to continue to improve this quarter and be better this year than last year. This season marks the traditional time of year to catch bigger fish. In both the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers, black bass (Largemouth and Suwannee), will be feeding in preparation for the spring spawn. Anglers looking for a unique opportunity to catch Suwannee bass can do so by fishing much the same as they would for Largemouth Bass. 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 hold and attract fish. Warmer water from spring runs or feeder creek mouths 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 ready to feed. Panfish should bite crickets or small artificial lures cast close to the bank and around woody structure. Catfish can also be taken by fishing live or cut baits around downed wood and especially in deep holes.

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. Good catches of Spotted Sunfish (Stumpknockers) and Redbreast Sunfish are possible with these methods. Because of the water temperature and tidal influence, saltwater fish species such as Red Drum utilize more of the river during this season. Bounce fresh shrimp with lead head jigs just over the oyster shell covered bottoms. Moving water is always key but avoid casting upstream 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.

FWC Facts:
When baby sharks are born, they swim away from their mothers right away and are on their own. In fact, their mothers might see them as prey.

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