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.
Water levels in the river can fluctuate with seasonal conditions. Anglers can stay up to date on river levels by visiting Southwest Florida Water Management District web page. The lower portion of the river (Dunnellon to SR 200) should be productive for bass as the quarter progresses. Anglers looking to score bigger bass in the river should use live shiners. These lively baits can be trolled, free-lined, or fished under floats along aquatic vegetation. Top waters and rattle traps fished around aquatic plants or around snags and other woody cover should produce fish as well. Good panfish catches have been reported all along the river. In the river near Dunnellon, and up the Rainbow River anglers should try using worms, crickets, or small artificials fished close to the bank and around woody structures. Anglers have been having great success catching spotted sunfish (stumpknockers) south of the Hwy 44 bridge, and through the small channel heading into Lake Panasoffkee. Earthworms have been very producing baits through here. Catfish should bite any kind of stink bait. Look for them to be held up in slow flowing eddies and holes throughout the river. The Rainbow River is a spring fed system that can provide thermal refuge when the Withlacoochee River is both hot and cold. On days following cold fronts, try fishing this crystal clear, scenic river.
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): 102
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 22
Hall of Fame Club (13+ pounds): 1