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Alachua County

Santa Fe Lake

This 5850-acre lake has a "little" northern area and a "big" southern arm connected by "the pass" where shad school and fishing is usually good for schooling largemouth and stocked sunshine bass. Numerous homes surround the lake, most with docks and ski boats; fishing is always best early and late or at night and on weekdays. In spite of development, the fish habitat is outstanding with many areas of cypress and healthy maidencane grass beds.

Local contact: Chappini's Bait & Tackle 352-475-9496; Bald Eagle Bait and Tackle 352-473-6060.

Panfish can be found around docks and cypress trees scattered around the lake. Target those fish using crickets, earthworms, and grass shrimp. If you are targeting black crappie, focus your efforts offshore and work your way to the shoreline, around any submerged structure, including marked fish attractors. A good fishfinder will help in locating offshore structure and suspended fish. With cooler water temperatures, crappie will begin to make their way closer to shore and can be targeted around vegetation. Troll or drift crappie jigs or minnows and try to cover as much water as possible until you start catching fish. Experiment by changing water depth, lure depth, lure color and boat speed to determine what is catching fish on a particular day. Santa Fe crappie anglers should try probing the deepest areas of the lake as well (20-30 foot depths). Anglers have traditionally done well while fishing right near the bottom with jigs or minnows after they find the depth contours holding fish on that particular day. Largemouth bass should be found in near-shore maidencane beds, under docks, and around cypress trees as they prepare to spawn. Soft plastics either flipped, pitched, or dragged near structure should draw strikes. Anglers should try slow-trolling live golden shiners parallel to the outer grass edges. Keep an eye open for roving schools of feeding bass offshore. Look for birds diving or surface commotion to find these feeding fish. Approach these feeding schools with stealth, and you should be able to catch multiple fish before the action stops. Effective lures for schooling bass include shad or minnow imitators including spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and plugs. Lake Sante Fe has shown some impressive bass tournament bag weights this year. Numerous trophy bass were reported during the past year, many from Little Sante Fe Lake. Precipitation is predicted to be below normal this winter, which may decrease water levels and limit access to shoreline habitat.

Popular Species

Popular Sport Fish Species

Fish graphics by Duane Raver, Jr.

More species information is available for:

Largemouth bassBluegill, Redear sunfishSunshine bassBlack crappie

FWC Trophy Catch Logo

TrophyCatch Tracker

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 Santa Fe:

Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 29

Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 7