Fishing Inverness Florida – a Complete Guide!

fishing Inverness Florida

Fishing Inverness Florida – a Complete Guide!

This article will provide anglers with a complete guide to fishing Inverness, Florida. Inverness is located in the middle of the state, close to the west coast. It lies in the middle of some terrific freshwater fishing. Also, Crystal River is a 15 minute drive, giving access to the Gulf of Mexico and world class saltwater fishing.

Inverness is a small town with a great atmosphere. It is only 45 minutes away from Ocala, but has a much different feel. Winter residents come to enjoy the great fishing for bass and panfish. Saltwater anglers experience excellent action for snook, redfish, and spotted sea trout. In the summer, Crystal River is the center of the scallop fishing universe.

fishing Inverness Florida

Fishing Inverness Florida

Inverness, Florida offers anglers the best of both world! Freshwater fishing options abound for largemouth bass, crappie (known in Florida as “specks, short for speckled perch), catfish, and panfish. Both lakes and beautiful protected rivers provide great action.

Saltwater anglers can drive a short distance to explore the vast flats around Crystal River and Homosassa to the south. These areas are world famous for a variety of species. The flats have trout, snook, tarpon and trout. Offshore a bit, anglers can catch mackerel and bottom fish for grouper, snapper, and sheepshead.

freshwater fishing inverness Florida

Freshwater fishing in Inverness, Florida

Inverness, Florida is a mecca for anglers who enjoy freshwater fishing. For the most part, there are two types of freshwater fishing that are done in this area; largemouth bass and panfish fishing. Both types of fishing have their loyal fans, with many anglers choosing to do both. Inverness offers the perfect environment for these freshwater species.

Bass fishing in Inverness, Florida

When it comes to freshwater fishing in Florida, there is no doubt that largemouth bass get the lion’s share of publicity. There is certainly good reason for this! The large shallow for tile lakes and rivers offer the perfect environment for largemouth bass. Cover is plentiful, mostly in the form of aquatic vegetation. Also, the forage base is able to sustain the large numbers of predator bass.

live bait for largemouth bass

There are many different techniques that anglers can use when targeting largemouth bass in the Inverness, Florida area. The local lakes are for the most part very shallow and weedy. Therefore, lures that are relatively weedless work best. A Texas rigged plastic worm is still a great bet and just about every circumstance. Chatter baits have become more popular in recent years. Top water lures are great fun, especially early and late in the day. Frogging large mats of vegetation is most productive and exciting.

Read Capt Jim’s detailed article on largemouth bass fishing in Florida

Anglers who enjoy fly fishing for largemouth bass will be in heaven in the Inverness area. The shallow, weedy lakes are perfect for anglers casting top water bugs and poppers. In the more open areas, subsurface flies such as deceiver patterns can also be effective. This is easy and fun fly fishing as short casts are the norm. Anglers truly have the chance to catch a trophy largemouth bass on any cast!

Inverness Florida fishing

While many largemouth bass are caught by anglers casting lures and flies, without a doubt the most productive technique for both numbers and trophy largemouth bass is fishing with live shiners. This is particularly true in the cooler months. A live wild shiner will put out distress signals when a largemouth bass is near. This often triggers the strike. This is why wild shiners are much more effective than hatchery raised or commercial shiners. This type of fishing is a bit less challenging, but is often more productive.

Fishing for bluegill and other panfish in Inverness Florida

While largemouth bass get a lot of attention, the argument can be easily made that bluegill and panfish are more sought after in Florida, and the United States for that matter, then bass and some of the other glamorous species. Bluegill and redear sunfish ( also called “shellcracker) are the two predominant pan fish species and the Inverness area.

fishing for panfish with lures

Anglers can catch bluegill and redear sunfish using a variety of techniques. Tiny artificial lures are very productive, particularly for the more aggressive bluegill. Scaled down versions of bass lures work well. A 1/16 ounce black Beetle spin is an excellent all round choice. Tiny soft plastic baits such as the 2 inch Mister Twister curly tail grub on a tiny jig head are also very productive. Chartreuse is a great color. Plugs and other lures with treble hooks are less effective in this very weedy environment.

Read more about fishing for panfish in Florida

Live bait certainly accounts for plenty of bluegill and redear sunfish, perhaps by a wide margin over anglers using lures. Live wigglers are an excellent all round bait and will catch every species of panfish and catfish as well. A small piece of nightcrawler is an excellent bait. Anglers targeting trophy bluegill often use live crickets, especially in the summer. In most cases, the best presentation is to fish the bait 2 feet to 3 feet under a float.

Freshwater fish species

Anglers who enjoy fly fishing can experience some terrific sport by targeting bluegill, small bass, crappie, and other panfish. A 3wt outfit with a floating line is perfect. Anglers can cast this all day easily in the light tackle will allow the diminutive game fish to give a good account of itself. Buggy black patterns were great on bluegill while tiny bait fish patterns in gold and chartreuse work better for bass and crappie.

Inverness Florida crappie fishing

Crappie are an extremely popular freshwater species throughout the country, and Florida is no exception. They are also called specs, short for speckled perch. Prime time for crappie fishing in Florida is in the cooler months. Crappy begin to school up in large numbers and early fall. This is the best time to locate a big school of fish. As the spawning season moves along, these big schools breakup as fish move to the bank.

The two primary methods used by anglers to catch crappie in Inverness Florida is casting and trolling jigs and fishing with live minnows. When vegetation is not thick, slowly trolling a curly tail jig is an excellent way to locate either a school of crappie or individual fish. Once a productive area is located, anglers can stop and thoroughly fish that spot.

Crappie feed primarily on smaller bait fish. That explains why tiny jigs are the top artificial lure. Commercially raised crappie minnows are one and a half inches to 2 inches long and are an extremely productive live bait. They are most often fished several feet under a small float due to the shallow water.

fishing for crappie bluegill and panfish

Top freshwater fishing spots in Inverness Florida

Anglers freshwater fishing in Inverness, Florida have a wide variety of options. In fact, the toughest decision and angler has to make will perhaps be the body of water he or she chooses to fish. There are multiple lakes and rivers that anglers can choose from. Keep in mind that water levels are critical as most of these bodies of water are quite shallow. During times of low water, which occurs in the winter, some of these waters will be too low to fish.

Henderson Lake

Henderson Lake lies right in downtown Inverness. There are a couple of very good ramps which offer anglers with even larger bass boats access to the lake. It is productive for bass and panfish, though it does get a fair amount of pressure. Early and late in the day our best and serious anglers try to avoid it on the weekends.

Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes

The Tsala Apopka Chain of Lakes covers a very large area, somewhere around 20,000 acres. It is very shallow and weedy, therefore water levels are crucial when it comes to angling success. Low water levels will concentrate fish in the slightly deeper areas. However, it can be difficult fishing and accessing these areas when the water is extremely low. Persistent anglers will do very well. There are three main pools called Inverness, Hernando, and Floral City, all of which have nice boat ramps.

bass fishing with plastic worms

Withlacoochee River

The Withlacoochee River offers anglers some good fishing and fantastic scenery. The river basically runs from Lake Panasoffkee to Lake Rousseau. It has a decent population of bass, but is more well known for having outstanding opportunities for panfish. There are several access points for both trailer boats and canoes and kayaks. This is a pristine environment that will be enjoyed for more than just the fishing. Once again, anglers need to be aware of water levels as it gets very low during the drought periods of winter.

Lake Panasoffkee

Lake Panasoffkee is 15 minutes or so east of Inverness, almost to Interstate 75. It is a fantastic freshwater fishing Lake, one of the top lakes in Florida! It is spring fed and fairly uniform in depth with multiple types of vegetation. For the most part, it is a fairly easy like to fish. Anglers work over top of submerged weeds or along the edges as well as in the holes in the weeds. Multiple ramps on the southwest part of the lake offer excellent access. There are a couple of fish camps as well, that offer visiting anglers a true Florida rustic experience.

best small spinnerbait for bass

Lake Rousseau

Lake Rousseau is an excellent fishing Lake in Florida! It is a result of a dam on the Withlacoochee River. This lake is full of dangerous barely submerged timber and anglers should use care when boating. The best approach is to move along at idle speeds. Lake Rousseau has an excellent population of both the largemouth bass and panfish. There are multiple boat ramps and fish camps to give anglers access to this lake.

Saltwater fishing in Inverness Florida

Anglers who enjoy saltwater fishing can experience some of the best action in the state, though they will have to drive a half hour or so west to get to it. Both Homosassa a and Crystal River offer anglers some truly world-class fishing opportunities. There are several excellent boat ramps in both areas that allow even quite large boats to get in on the action.

redfish fishing baits

The myriad of title creeks and rivers along with huge flats and oyster bars are prime habitat for some of the top species in the state. Snook are now fairly common, and this is a recent occurrence. Anglers seeking world record tarpon have been coming here for decades. Redfish and speckled trout are plentiful on the grass flats and oyster bars. Sheepshead and snapper can be caught as well. Offshore species include grouper, snapper, king mackerel, and more.

While the fishing can be outstanding, anglers new to the area need to exercise caution. This can be a tricky area for boating and angler should exercise extreme caution when navigating outside of the marks channels. It can take many years to thoroughly learn this area. For those who can afford it, going out with a charter captain or two in the beginning is money well spent when it comes to learning the area and techniques.

Inverness Florida flats fishing

Many anglers choosing to fish this pristine saltwater environment west of Inverness, Florida, do so to enjoy the incredible flats fishing. The environment is perfect for these inshore species. Grass flats, oyster bars, and title creeks and rivers abound, providing game fish with many foraging opportunities. Tides are crucial to success! During low-water, fish will be found on the outside points and bars. As the tide floods, fish will move up onto the once barren bars to feed.

spotted sea trout fishing

As with most Florida saltwater fishing situations, anglers have a fairly wide choice of techniques that can be used productively. Casting lures allows anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish, which can be important when they are scattered out over a large area. Weedless spoons, soft plastic lures, and plugs are all effective.

Live bait is very effective and many anglers choose to use that. Shrimp are without a doubt the top live bait as they are readily available at bait shops and everything that swims and saltwater eats them. A large live shrimp fished 2 feet under a float is a deadly combination for trout and redfish. Shrimp can be fished around oyster bars as well for redfish and sheepshead.

Anglers who enjoy fly fishing can do very well fishing the Crystal River area. Site fishing opportunities abound in the very shallow water, though anglers need to be quiet and precise in their presentation. Blind casting in the deeper flats will produce spotted sea trout and other species. Anglers seeking the ultimate challenge can choose to target tarpon, though this fishery has declined a bit in recent years.

Offshore fishing

Offshore fishing in this area around Inverness, Florida is a bit unique. The bottom here is quite flat and tapers into the Gulf of Mexico slowly. In some spots, it only averages 1 foot per mile. That means that anglers traveling 20 miles from shore may only be in 20 or 25 feet of water.

The result of this is a very unique shallow water grouper fishing situation. Big grouper, mostly gag grouper will move onto isolated rock piles. Anglers can fish live baits or even cast or troll deep diving plugs and other artificial lures. Grouper pole incredibly hard and the shallow water! Other bottom fishing species will be encountered such as sheepshead and snapper. Anglers chasing deep water offshore pelagic species such as dolphin and even king mackerel need to run a long way in this part of Florida.

In conclusion, this guy to fishing Inverness Florida will help anglers get acquainted with the area and understand some of the excellent freshwater and saltwater fishing opportunities that are presented to them!

Jim Klopfer

Capt Jim Klopfer has been a fishing guide in Sarasota, Florida since 1991. He grew up in Maryland, fishing the Chesapeake Bay waters. Capt Jim has been creating an writing articles about fishing for decades, contributing to many regional and national publications. He also lives part time in the North Carolina mountains where he fishes for trout and other species. Capt Jim Klopfer is a wel rounded angler with 50 years fishing experience, and he loves to share what he has learned with other anglers!

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