Florida Panhandle Fishing

Public Fishing Areas

This is the Florida panhandle fishing area which is the Northwest Bass Zone. It stretches from the Mississippi-Florida border to the Suwannee River which flows south from the Georgia-Florida border to the Gulf of Mexico. The largest lake in this area of Florida is Lake Seminole which Georgia lays claim to the majority. Most of the lakes in this area are Fish Management Lakes under 1,000 acres. But there are some good river systems that not only have good bass fishing but are probably better known for their striper, hybrid striper and pan fish populations.

Florida Panhandle Fishing

Lake Talquin; Leon and Gadsden counties: is a 8,800-acre lake located in the north-west part of the state, 10 miles west of Tallahassee, FL.

  • Black bass caught that are shorter than 18 inches in total length must be released immediately.

In the Florida panhandle fishing area, Lake Talquin is the largest impoundment that is totally inside the Florida borders. This is a stump filled lake that demands a lot of attention and caution when navigating. I’ve only been on this lake once and I was not the driver. I would get a good map, some local advice and pay close attention to channel markers. When you leave the channel, trim your motor up and maneuver at a slow pace.

Deer Point Lake; Bay County: is a 5,000-acre lake located in the north-west part of the state, 5 miles north of Panama City, FLAlthough Deer Point lake is best known for its shellcracker and redear sunfish some good bass fishing can be had in February but is at its peak April through June.

Jim Woodruff Reservoir/Lake Seminole; Jackson and Gadsden counties: is a 37,500-acre lake located in the north-west part of the state on the Florida-Georgia border, at Chattahoochie, FL.Even though most (approximately 80%) of Lake Seminole is located in Georgia, Florida still counts it as one of the lakes in the Florida panhandle fishing area. Size and bag limits on Lake Seminole follow those established by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and include: 10 black bass (12-inch minimum size); an aggregate of 15 striped bass, white bass, and sunshine bass (only two over 22 inches).

This is a popular lake for tournaments because of its size and abundance of fish. When I lived in Eufaula, Al., working for Humminbird, our bass club would always put Lake Seminole on the tournament schedule. This is the lake David Fritz caught one of the biggest four day totals in B.A.S.S.’s tournament history.

Lake Jackson; Leon County: this 4,000-acre lake has been nationally known for its largemouth bass fishery.

  • All black bass less than 18 inches in total length must be released immediately.

I love this lake! It’s a shallow sandy bottom lake with lots of cattails, reeds, hydrilla, eelgrass and kissimmee grass (maidencane). It is a natural sink-hole lake that dries up about every 25 years. So make sure you call ahead to see what stage the lake is in. You don’t want to show up only to find the lake dry or in its 1st or 2nd year of recovery. When it comes to Florida panhandle fishing, this is one of my favorites.

Lake Miccosukee; Jefferson County: is a 6,200-acre lake located in the northern-central part of the state, 10 miles west of Monticello, FL.Lake Miccosukee is best known for its unusually large bluegills which frequently measure anywhere from 10 to 12 inches and above.


Apalachicola River; Jackson, Gadsden, Calhoun, Gulf, Liberty, and Franklin counties

Blackwater AND Yellow Rivers; Okaloosa and Santa Rosa Counties

Ochlockonee River; Leon County

Choctawhatchee River; Walton and Washington counties

Escambia River; Escambia and Santa Rosa counties

Chipola River; Calhoun County

Suwannee River; Dixie, Lafayette, Madison, Hamilton, Columbia, Suwannee, Levy and Gilchrist: In the Suwannee River, areas north and west of the Suwannee River, and in any tributary river, creek or stream of the Suwannee River: black bass less than 12 inches in total length must be released immediately. Florida panhandle fishing is synonymous with the Suwannee River. It’s the natural divider where the panhandle ends and the peninsula begins. Driving down the interstate, you’ll see the sign as you cross the river, with musical notes, stating this is the river the song was written about. For you music and history buffs the song is titled Swanee, Music by George Gershwin, Words by I. Caesar, Published 1919 by T.B. Harms, and, although not the original singer, made famous by Al Jolson. I know, I here the “so what”, thought we were talking about Florida panhandle fishing.

Santa Fe River; Gilchrist, Columbia, Suwannee, Bradford, Union, Alachua

Fish Management Areas

When it comes to Florida panhandle fishing, you’ll find quite a few small lakes run by Florida Fish Management. Here is a listing of most of them. For a more comprehensive list and how to obtain permits, seasonal closings, ramp information and boat limitations, go to the myflorida web site for answers to most of your questions and contact information. Actually when you arrive at their site you can type the lake you’re looking for in the search box and see several pages of information on that particular lake. This holds true for any lake you may be interested in and not just Fish Management Lakes.

Juniper Bay Lake; Walton County: 665 acres

Lake Piney Z; Leon County: 193 acres

  • All black bass must be released immediately.

Lake Victor; Holmes County: 130 acres

Merritt´s Mill Pond; Jackson County: 202 acres

Hurricane Lake; Okaloosa County: 318 acres

  • Black bass less than 18 inches in total length must be released immediately.

Karick Lake; Okaloosa County: 58 acres

Lake Stone; Escambia County: 130 acres

Bear Lake; Santa Rosa County: 107 acres

Joe Budd Pond; Gadsden County: 15 acres

  • Black bass less than 16 inches in total length must be released immediately.

Koon Lake; Lafayette County: 125 acres

Lang Lake; Hamilton County: 86 acres

  • Black bass less than 18 inches in total length must be released immediately.

Lake Rachel; Madison County:

  • All black bass must be released immediately.

Eagle Lake; Hamilton County:

Wherever you choose to do your Florida panhandle fishing, make sure you do a little research first. Some the small lakes are well known for their shellcrackers, redear, and brim fishing while the rivers are popular striper and hybrid striper destinations. This page is meant to give you an overview of the lakes and rivers and their approximate locations. Let’s say you’re heading to Panama City for spring break and you want to do a little fishing. Well, now you know that Deer Point Lake is just 5 miles north of Panama City. Lake Talquin is just 10 miles to the west of Tallahassee, Florida while Lake Jackson is just north of the city on U.S. Hwy. 27, if you should be taking in a Florida State Seminoles game.

Return from Florida Panhandle Fishing to Florida Fishing Rules 2007-2008