Citrus, Marion, Sumter, Levy, Hernando counties
This 157-mile stream originates in Green Swamp in Hernando County and flows north to the Gulf at Yankeetown. The stream has many limerock areas and associated swamps. Water levels fluctuate except in Lake Rousseau and the area just above the influence of Rainbow River. Water color is dark during the rainy season and clear during low water. Public ramps are located at S.R. 44 in Rutland, C.R. 470 north of Lake Panasofkee, the Outlet River west of Lake Panasofkee on C.R. 470 in Sumter County, C.R. 39 north of SR 200 in Citrus County, U.S. Highway 41 at Dunnellon and SR 40 at Yankeetown.
Local contacts: Anglers Resort Dunnellon 352-489-2397.
Interested anglers should visit the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) recorded water level and rainfall webpage for up-to-date information on river levels.
Panfish and largemouth bass can be found throughout the river. Search shallow backwater areas, and areas of slack current for signs of bedding. Largemouth bass can be caught using frogs or rattletraps. Carolina-rigged worms fished along the bottom near structures should work well. Anglers can take a trip up the Rainbow River for some sight-fishing fun. Be sure to follow all posted navigation markers. This spring-fed river has good habitat and can produce good size and numbers of fish. The river will be home to numerous species of panfish. Worms and crickets make great baits for all species. Small spinning lures can produce strikes from larger redbreast or redear sunfish. Spotted sunfish can be caught using small beetlespins; try topping with pieces of shrimp or clam meat! Catfish are said to be big in the river. Anglers should fish upstream of their desired target; use smelly (but fresh!) baits, such as chicken liver or shrimp, fished on the bottom, and let the smell waft down to the fish. In murky waters, the strong smell of fresh chicken liver is sure to entice a catfish to bite.
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 the Withlacoochee River:
Lunker Club (8 – 9.9 pounds): 68
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 15