Levy and Citrus Counties
An impoundment of the Withlacoochee River, as part of the original Cross Florida Barge Canal project, this large lake is full of cypress trees, pennywort islands and sometimes hydrilla. Abundant cover and structure grow plenty of bluegill, redear sunfish, catfish, black crappie and largemouth bass. The deeper river channel is always good to locate and fish underwater bends. The rest of the lake is referred to as the "flats" or the backwaters.
While the weather is still hot and water temperatures are warm, bass anglers should focus their efforts in the early morning or late evening hours. During the day, fishing deeper water near the edges of the channels should produce fish. Fishing weedless-rigged plastic worms though dense vegetation, or topwater baits in patches of open water should attract any largemouth bass waiting for its next meal. The panfish bite has been very productive, especially around full moons. As the weather cools, look for panfish to become more active during the daylight hours, especially on warm days following extended cold fronts. Crickets and grass shrimp are the preferred bluegill baits, while the tried-and-true earthworm should land some nice redear sunfish. Fish around edges of vegetation and submersed structure. The countless snags and cypress stumps found throughout the lake provide excellent cover and foraging opportunities for panfish; fish baits on and around these stumps when targeting panfish. Bring a mix of baits and experiment a bit until you find what the fish are biting. The catfish here are reported to be big. Find submersed structures near the edge of flowing water. Drop a stinky bait and let the current carry the smell to any hungry catfish waiting for a meal. Reported catfish bites have been most positive in the deep water above the dam. Bring heavy tackle and let your chicken liver or gizzard soak on the bottom. Below the dam, fish areas of slack water off the main channel. Look for deep holes or woody debris- areas catfish may be sheltering. Black crappie anglers should see the bite pick up as the quarter progresses. As weather cools, look for signs of schooling. Find areas of open water and drop lines at varying depths until you find fish; once found stay put while the bite is on. Fishing the open water above the dam is a favorite spot to target schooling crappie. There are several local tackle shops near the lake. Contact them prior to your trip for additional fishing advice.
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 Lake Rousseau:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 182
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 35
Hall of Fame Club (13+ pounds): 2