Columbia, Hamilton, Madison, Lafayette, Gilchrist, Alachua, Suwannee, Levy and Dixie counties
The Suwannee drains from the Okeefenokee Swamp through limestone shoals stretches to become a large flood plain river in the lower reaches. Drastic water level fluctuations characterize the river and keep the fishery dynamic. The Santa Fe is the major tributary, heavily influenced by springs and unlike the Suwannee, has vast areas of submerged vegetation in the middle and upper reaches. These areas harbor abundant freshwater shrimp, waterscuds and aquatic insects, thus producing excellent growth rates for fish, particularly abundant redbreast sunfish and pugnacious spotted sunfish (stumpknockers). The upper Suwannee has only tree roots and rocky shelves for fish structure. The lower Suwannee has a band of waterlilies and eventually in the tidal portion, numerous wooded and marsh-lined feeder creeks. High tide fishing is always slow with best fishing during lower tides. It is also helpful to remember that the outer bends are always deeper, sand bars are on inside curves and lilies on outer bend means the current has left the bank and panfish like to spawn here. Both Suwannee and largemouth bass occur. Large fish are not the rule and remember that all bass in the river, especially Suwannees, prefer to feed on crawfish, so crawfish-colored lures prevail.
Local upper Suwannee contacts: Suwannee River State Park 386-362-2746, Canoe Outpost 1-800-428-4147, Spirit of Suwannee Park 386-364-1683.
Local middle Suwannee and Santa Fe contacts: Sandy Point Marina 386-935-0615, Gene's Bait & Tackle, Ft. White 904-497-2248.
Local lower Suwannee contacts: Sid's Treasure Camp at Fowler's Bluff 352-493-2950.
The enacted "No Wake" zones from Dowling Park downstream to the upper estuary have been lifted.
Note: Boaters should be extremely cautious on both rivers, as low water has made clearance over sand bars and other underwater hazards less certain. Use low water periods to develop better understanding of what exposed areas look like under normal river levels. Also available are current water levels throughout Florida on the Internet at www.usgs.gov.
Fishhound also offers a fishing forecast for the Suwannee River .
Currently the trend here is falling water levels. This is a relief in both of these systems. However, hurricane season has just begun so keep your fingers crossed. Monitoring the Suwannee River Water Management Districts web page for updated river levels will keep you informed (http://www.srwmd.state.fl.us/realtimeriverlevels/realtimeriverlevels.aspx). Target all sunfish when the water levels fall to where the cypress knees are most abundant. Small artificial baits like beetle spins or crankbaits are ideal for casting as you float downstream. Fresh bait works too and might be a better choice for an angler with less experience working a lure. Catfish fishing will be in full swing this quarter. Many anglers set bush hooks over night and work their sets come morning. Hook and line anglers will anchor upstream of bends and allow baited hooks to sink and simulate morsels being carried by the currents. Sometimes it is easier to tie the bow of the boat to a sturdy limb than setting an anchor.