Lake Panasoffkee Fishing
Lake Panasoffkee is a 4,460-acre Fish Management Area located by the town of Lake Panasoffkee. Panasoffkee is genuinely unusual, a natural spring-fed lake, water depths seldom exceed four feet. Lake Panasoffkee connects to the Withlacoochee River, which is well over 157 miles long, flowing out to the Gulf of Mexico. I-75 runs along the eastern edge and C.R. 470 along the southern and western shore. A public ramp is available on the Outlet River, west of the lake on C.R. 470.
There are abundant threadfin shad (excellent bass forage) and largemouth bass in the 1 to 4-pound range with enormous stomachs. Bass are feeding heavily on the readily available threadfin shad. Fishing floating Rat-L-Trap or shallow diving crankbaits with chartreuse in it (to match up with the threadfin’s yellow/green tail). Jerkworms and spinnerbaits will also produce schooling-size bass.
There are also large numbers of smaller sized bluegill around eelgrass beds and near shore. Fishing crickets or grass shrimp around eelgrass beds should work well for the available bream.
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Lake Panasoffkee History
Lake Panasoffkee WMA lies along the eastern shore of Lake Panasoffkee in north-central Sumter County. This nearly 9,000-acre area was acquired between 1990 and 1997 to preserve the lake and its associated floodplain forests. The lake has four spring-fed creeks, pinelands, and oak scrub found at higher elevations. Lake Panasoffkee WMA is part of the Great Florida Birding Trail.
On the loop trail through the open pasture, kestrels, meadowlarks, and killdeer may be observed. White-tailed deer, Wild turkey, feral hogs, armadillo, hawks, turtles, and wading birds are ordinary residents. The spur to Little Jones Creek is a good spot to hear and observe warblers.
Over eight miles of shared trails are available for bicycling, and 18 more miles of trails are open for horseback riding and hiking. Visitors can picnic in the open pavilion. Lake Panasoffkee offers separate primitive equestrian and group campsites. may be reserved for group use with the Southwest Florida Water Management District upon request offer pavilions and campgrounds. Fishing, boating, and paddling are available on the lake, accessible from a nearby county boat ramp.
Top Lake Panasoffkee Fish Species
Panasoffkee is a lake, but it was almost a city. A strange set of circumstances is it still a typical swamp. Carpeted by rare jungle flowers and inhabited by birds and wild animals such as their native habitat by only a few Florida tourists.
All of this might have been a metropolis—the Florida Gazetteer of 1887 show Panasoffkee twice the size of Jacksonville. There was no Orlando in those days. Even before that year, however, a settlement existed on the lake. In the earlier 1880s, when the Florida Central Railroad extended south from Wildwood, the first new station stop was Panasoffkee.
Making Travel Plans?
Were you thinking of driving? An incredibly scenic drive if back roads are taken. From the North out of Ocala take I-75 South. Leesburg is just to the East and US-44 can be used. From the South out of Tampa Bay try alternative US-301. Be sure to stop at Zephyrhills and Sumererville along the way.
Top Lake Panasoffkee Captains
Access and Parking
- Located on the south side of S.R. 44, two miles west of I-75.
- Property closed to the general public during hunts.
Hours of Operation
Daily from sunrise to sunset, except during hunts.
Restrooms and Water
The restrooms are adjacent to the picnic pavilion. Non-potable water is available.
- Eight miles of marked trails. Riders must stay on trails.
- Always wear a helmet. Florida law requires bicyclists under 16 to wear helmets.
- Site 54 on the western section of the Great Florida Birding Trail.
- Contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) for more information.
Boating and Paddling
- Explore Shady Brook, Big Jones, and Little Jones creeks by small boat during high-water conditions. Access from Lake Panasoffkee.
- Outlet channels to Lake Panasoffkee are generally not navigable except in high-water situations.
- Separate areas are available for equestrian and group primitive camping.
- Campgrounds are equipped with fire rings, grills, and picnic tables.
- Non-potable well water is open at the equestrian campground.
- Maximum occupancy — 40 campers.
- Eight horse stalls with water; free to campers on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Vehicles allowed in campgrounds with a valid camping permit
- Eighteen miles of shared-use trails are marked for horseback riding.
- Tracks marked with white diamonds.
- Riders must stay on marked trails.
- Horse-drawn buggy riding is allowed on marked trails. Permit required.
- Each rider must carry proof of current negative Coggins test.
- Little Jones Creek and two borrow pits on the eastern side of the property.
- Access from Jones Creek Trail and Borrow Pit Trail, respectively.
- Lake Panasoffkee is inaccessible from the property due to thick marsh vegetation.
- Contact FWC for required Florida fishing license requirements.
Eighteen miles of shared-use trails.
- View the regulations summary for this property
- Unique opportunity hunts were conducted for archery, hog-still, hog-dog, and turkey—also a minor game season.
- Contact FWC for information regarding license requirements, permits, and rules.
- Hunters may enter the property by vehicle as specified in FWC’s regulations summary for this property.
Large pavilion with picnic tables and grills for daily use. The pavilion may be reserved for group use upon request.