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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. By this time, black crappie should be finished spawning, but can be targeted offshore by trolling or drifting jigs or minnows. Try to cover as much water as possible. A good fishfinder will help in locating offshore structure and suspended fish. Experiment by fishing different water depths, lure depths, lure colors and boat speeds and use that information to duplicate your success in other areas of the lake. Crappie anglers should try probing the deepest areas of the lake as well (20-30 foot depths). A good place to begin your deep-water fishing is on any one of the marked FWC fish attractors on the lake. Anglers have traditionally done well while fishing right near the bottom with jigs or minnows after they find the depth contours preferred by crappie on that particular day. The post-spawn period and warming temperatures should increase largemouth bass feeding activity. Bass anglers should target bass in nearshore maidencane beds, under docks, around cypress trees, and offshore structure. Soft plastics or topwater baits around these areas should draw strikes. Anglers should try slow-trolling live golden shiners parallel to the outer grass edges or when targeting schooling bass offshore. Look for birds diving or surface commotion to find bass offshore. 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. Numerous trophy bass have been caught this year. Precipitation is predicted to be above normal this spring, which may increase water levels and improve 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): 27

Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 6