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.
River level can fluctuate this time of year depending on the amount of rain the region receives. Interested anglers should consult the Southwest Florida Water Management District’s web app for up to date water level information. The river section south of Dunnellon has been most productive recently. Bass anglers should target breaks in the river current. Find areas where the current is slowed by vegetation or hard structures. Fishing flashy baits or rattle traps should induce strikes. Most fishing effort is focused on panfish. Bluegill, redear, redbreast and spotted sunfish can all be found in the river. Redbreast and spotted sunfish are fun riverine species to target. Fish outer bends in the river where the channel has created a “wall” on the riverbank. Small beetle spins tipped with pieces of shrimp can be very successful. Crickets and worms fished near vegetation and over sandy bottoms will also work. Catfish can be round in any slow moving back eddy, or near large submersed structures, like docks and fallen trees. When fishing near current, anchor upriver of your target and toss out a stink bait, letting the smell waft down to any hungry catfish. Those looking for a more unique fishing experience can head up the Rainbow River. This clear, spring fed river will provide anglers the opportunity to sight-fish. Habitat is abundant and the water is cool and deep. During the hottest part of the day, this tributary should appeal to many anglers. Just remember, if you can see the fish, they can see you too. Many anglers target the Rainbow River at night. On a full moon, the panfish and catfish using this cool water sanctuary should be active and the fishing should be excellent.
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): 51
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 8