Fishing Lake Panasoffkee

Lake Panasoffkee is a 4,460-acre Fish Management Area located by the town of Lake Panasoffkee. Panasoffkee is truly 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’s abundant numbers of threadfin shad (excellent bass forage) and largemouth bass in the 1 to 4 pound range with very big 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 eel grass beds and near shore. Fishing crickets or grass shrimp around eel grass beds should work well for the available bream.

Lake Panasoffkee Fishing Reports:

Lake Panasoffkee History Information and Map:

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. Four spring-fed creeks enter the lake. Pinelands and oak scrub are found at higher elevations. Wild turkey, feral hogs, white-tailed deer, armadillo, hawks, turtles, and wading birds are common residents. 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. 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. Pavilion and campsites may be reserved for group use with the Southwest Florida Water Management District upon request. Fishing, boating, and paddling are available on the lake, which is accessible from a nearby county boat ramp.

Panasoffkee is a lake, but it was almost a city. Only by a strange set of circumstances is it still a typical cypress swamp, carpeted by rare jungle flowers and inhabited by birds and wild animals such as in 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 1880’s, when the Florida Central Railroad extended south from Wildwood, the first new station stop was Panasoffkee.

View Larger Map of Lake Panasoffkee

Access and Parking

  • Located on south side of SR 44, two miles west of I-75.
  • Property closed to general public during hunts.

Hours of Operation

Daily from sunrise to sunset, except during hunts.

Restrooms and Water

Restrooms adjacent to picnic pavilion. Non-potable water available.

Recreational Opportunities

Bicycling

  • 8 miles of marked trails. Riders must stay on trails.
  • Always wear helmet. Florida law requires bicyclists under 16 to wear helmets.

Bird Watching

  • Site 54 on western section of Great Florida Birding Trail.
  • Contact 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 channel to Lake Panasoffkee generally not navigable except in high-water conditions.

Camping

  • Separate areas available for equestrian and group primitive camping.
  • Campgrounds equipped with fire rings, grills and picnic tables.
  • Non-potable well water available at equestrian campground.
  • Maximum occupancy — 40 campers.
  • 8 horse stalls with water; free to campers on first-come, first-served basis.
  • Vehicles allowed in campgrounds with valid camping permit

Equestrian Use

  • 18 miles of shared-use trails marked for horseback riding.
  • Trails marked with white diamonds.
  • Riders must stay on marked trails.
  • Horse-drawn buggy riding allowed on marked trails. Permit required.
  • Each rider must carry proof of current negative Coggins test.

Fishing

  • Little Jones Creek and two borrow pits on eastern side of property.
  • Access from Jones Creek Trail and Borrow Pit Trail, respectively.
  • Lake Panasoffkee inaccessible from property due to thick marsh vegetation.
  • Contact FWC for license requirements.

Hiking

18 miles of shared-use trails.

Hunting

  • View regulations summary for this property
  • Special opportunity hunts conducted for archery, hog-still, hog-dog and turkey. Also a small 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.

Picnic Facilities

Large pavilion with picnic tables and grills located in day-use area. Pavilion may be reserved for group use upon request.