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.
While the days are still short and cool, try fishing up the Rainbow River. This spring-sourced river should provide a thermal refuge during periods of prolonged cold. Recent fall electrofishing produced a variety of fish and the habitat looked great. Fish along the edges of hydrilla and eelgrass, and under pockets of spatterdock pads for best results. As the quarter progresses and water temperatures rise, look for largemouth and bream to become more active. Fish near shore areas around vegetation and hard structures. Largemouth Bass should bite soft plastics and Golden Shiners. Bream are commonly caught using live baits such as crickets, grass shrimp, and worms. Beetle spins fished around woody structures should also produce bites. Those seeking catfish should fish chicken liver of other stinky baits along the bottom near riprap or sunken logs.
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): 39
Trophy Club (10 - 12.9 pounds): 5