Boating & Fishing

In both the Suwannee and Santa Fe rivers, black bass (largemouth and Suwannee), will be feeding in preparation for the spring spawn. This season marks the traditional time of year to catch bigger fish; fish outer bends of either river for both types of bass with soft plastic baits (crayfish colors). Target fallen treetops, log jams, and vegetation edges realizing that where the emergent vegetation stops is where deep water or currents prevent growth. These areas should be spots that hold and attract fish. Warmer water from spring run or feeder creek mouths makes for likely areas that would attract fish. A degree or two of difference in water temperature might be the key to locating fish that are ready to feed. Panfish should bite crickets or small artificial lures casted close to the bank and around woody structure.

Fishing on the Suwannee River
Largemouth and Suwannee Bass provide excellent fishing opportunities. Both can be caught along the shoreline near fallen trees or stumps. Several species of catfish are plentiful and offer real excitement for anglers both young and old alike. Redbreast and spotted sunfish are the most abundant game fish in the river and are easily caught near shoreline brush and stumps. The peak season is May through September, but good catches are possible year round. During the winter months, fish tend to concentrate in the many deep holes found along the river bends. Access points include boat ramps at Hart Springs off of CR 344 and CR 232 west of Bell; Eula and Wannee Landings, both off CR 341, Rock Bluff at the CR 340 bridge and several other locations.

Fishing on the Santa Fe River
The Santa Fe is the major tributary to the Suwannee River, 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).

Who needs a recreational hunting or fishing license or permit?
Florida Residents and Visitors need a Florida hunting, freshwater fishing or saltwater fishing license for more information and get your license online please visit

Free Florida Fishing Days
Free fishing days provide an excellent opportunity for parents who don’t yet have licenses to take youth fishing, or avid anglers to introduce a friend to fishing without having to purchase a license. On these days, the fishing license requirement is waived for all recreational anglers (residents and non-residents). All other rules (e.g., seasons, bag and size limits) apply.

License-free freshwater days

  • First Saturday and Sunday in April
  • Second Saturday and Sunday in June

License-free saltwater days

  • First Saturday and Sunday in June
  • First Saturday in September
  • Saturday following Thanksgiving

Boating on the Suwannee River & Santa Fe River
On the Santa Fe River west of where the Ichetucknee River joins the Santa Fe you’ll find more power boats. The last two mile stretch of the Santa Fe to the Suwannee is wider and sometimes windier you’ll find many powerboats. Along the way on the Santa Fe you may see wildlife including deer, otter, turtles, snakes, alligators, manatees and many different birds. This area is excellent for fishing and bird watching. The terrain includes swamp, sand hills, flatwoods and hardwood hammocks.
On the Suwannee River you’ll find many different forms of watercraft including large & small powerboats, canoes and kayaks. There are many springs along the river.