Fishing Lake Panasoffkee

Fishing Lake Panasoffkee

fishing Lake Panasoffkee

The topic of this article is fishing Lake Panasoffkke, Florida. Lake Panasoffkee is located in central Florida, just south of Ocala. It is an hour west of Orlando. This 4,460-acre lake is situated in Sumter County, just off the I-75 interstate. The lake’s unique ecosystem, abundance of fish species, and variety of fishing options make it an ideal location for anglers of all skill levels. Great skill is not required to catch fish!

Fishing in Lake Panasoffkee is a year-round activity, with different seasons bringing different species of fish. The lake is home to a wide variety of fish, including largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish, and tilapia. It is on the list of top ten panfish lakes in Florida. Largemouth bass are available in both size and numbers. The shallow fertile water is the perfect environment for both bass and bluegill.

largemouth bass fishing

My name is Capt Jim Klopfer and I love fishing Lake Panasoffkee! I recently moved to Inverness after running fishing charters in Sarasota for over 30 years. I really enjoy the solitude, scenery, and simplicity of freshwater fishing. I really enjoy fly fishing in Lake Panasoffkee, though I will certainly use spinning and baitcasting tackle as well.

Fishing Lake Panasoffkee

One of the unique features of Lake Panasoffkee is its aquifer-fed springs, which provide a constant flow of fresh water into the lake. The freshwater springs, located in the northwestern part of the lake, offer excellent fishing opportunities, with many anglers reporting catches of large bass and crappie in this area. The lake’s other areas also offer great fishing opportunities, with plenty of shallow areas and submerged vegetation providing excellent habitats for a variety of fish species.

Florida bluegill fishing

The water level is very important when fishing Lake Panasoffkee. It is a very shallow lake and in the dry season (winter and spring), the water can get very low. Also, weed growth can be an issue for both fishing and boating. However, when conditions are right, Lake Panasoffkee offers some of the best freshwater fishing in Florida.

Largemouth bass fishing on Lake Panasoffkee

Largemouth bass are extremely popular among anglers freshwater fishing in Florida. Lake Panasoffkee offers anglers the chance to catch a big fish while experiencing decent action as well. The shallow water and weeds results in several patterns being productive. Soft plastic baits produce more bass than any other artificial lure. Anglers Texas rigging worms and other baits can work them slowly through the vegetation. Punching creature baits through matted surface vegetation produces some big fish. My personal favorite is the Zoom Trick Worm. I like how slender it is with great action. Green pumpkin is a productive color, as are blue and black.

zoom trick worm

Topwater plugs work very well early and late in the day on Lake Panasoffkee. The best approach is to work the edges of weed beds as they drop off into deeper, open water. Anglers will also encounter bass feeding on the surface at times. This is great fun and a topwater bait works well. I am a “Rapala guy” and favor the Rapala Skitter pop when using a popper. The Rapala Skitter Prop is an excellent prop bait that puts out a bit more commotion.

Bladed jigs and spinnerbaits are also productive bass fishing lures on Lake Panasoffkee. They are relatively weedless, which makes them good choices for the vegetation present. These lures allow anglers to cover a lot more water than can be done with a slow moving soft plastic baits. Chartreuse and white is an excellent all round color combination.

Florida freshwater fishing

Live shiners, especially wild shiners, practically guarantee success when bass fishing, particularly in the cooler months. Due to the vegetation, the most effective presentation is to fish them a couple feet under a float. Heavy tackle is best, a very large bass is always a possibility.

Bluegill fishing on Lake Panasoffkee

Bluegill fishing on Lake Panasoffkee is outstanding! It is one of the top panfish lakes in the state. Bluegill, also known as bream or sunfish are a species of freshwater fish that are abundant in the lake. They are a popular catch due to their good fighting ability and delicious taste.

freshwater fishing inverness Florida

Bluegill fishing in Lake Panasoffkee can be done year-round, but the best times to fish are during the warmer months of the year. The bluegill tend to move into shallower waters during this time to spawn, making them easier to catch. This is especially true around the full moon. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to catch bluegill, as they are more active during these times. However, they readily bite all day.

One of the most popular techniques for catching bluegill in Lake Panasoffkee is using live bait, such as worms, crickets, or grass shrimp. This is very basic, fun fishing that anyone can do. These baits can be used with a simple hook and bobber setup or a small jig.

fly fishing for Florida bluegill

Another popular technique for catching bluegill is using small artificial lures. These lures can mimic the movement of natural prey and can be very effective in attracting bluegill. I really only use two lures for bluegill fishing; a 1 1/16 ounce black Beetle Spin spinnerbait and a 1 1/16 ounce chartreuse curly tail grub. Both catch plenty of bluegill and anglers will catch bass as well.

Crappie fishing on Lake Panasoffkee

Crappie fishing is a popular on Lake Panasoffkee, particularly in the cooler months. Crappie, also known as speckled perch, are a species of freshwater fish that are abundant in the lake. They are a pretty fish that grow larger than other panfish. Crappie are fantastic to eat. They are a schooling fish and once located, a nice mess can be landed in short order.

fishing for crappie

The best time to go crappie fishing in Lake Panasoffkee is during the cooler months of the year, typically from October through April. During this time, the water temperatures are cooler, and the crappie are more active and aggressive. They tend to move to shallower waters to spawn, making them easier to catch.

One of the most popular techniques for catching crappie in Lake Panasoffkee is using live minnows under a float. This is very productive and easy. Anglers use a #4 long shank hook under a small float. The minnow can be hooked under the dorsal fin or through the lips. It is best to give a spot ten to fifteen minutes and if the action arises, move to another spot. 2″ minnows are best and can be purchased at local bait shops when the crappie run is on.

Florida crappie fishing

Another popular technique for catching crappie is using small artificial lures, especially jigs. 1/8 ounce and 1/16 ounce jigs with a plastic body are extremely productive. That same small Beetle spin is effective as well. These lures can mimic the movement of natural prey and can be very effective in attracting crappie. A slow, steady retrieve works best. Anglers can cast them towards shoreline cover and weed edges. When weeds are a bit less prevalent, trolling is a terrific technique anglers can use to locate a school of fish.

Shellcracker (redear sunfish) fishing on Lake Panasoffkee

fishing for Florida shellcracker

Redear sunfish, also known as shellcracker, are also present in Lake Panasoffkee. They are mostly caught in late spring and early summer. Shellcracker feed on crustaceans (thus the name) and are mostly caught by anglers using live bait. Worms and grass shrimp are very effective. The bait can be fished under a float or free lined with a split shot in deeper water. They grow larger than bluegill and fight very hard. Shellcracker are also fantastic to eat!

While live bait is best for shellcracker, they will also take lures and flies. The same lures that fool bluegill will catch the occasional shellcracker. This is particularly true when they are spawning in spring and a bit more aggressive.

Fly Fishing on Lake Panasoffkee

fly fishing for largemouth bass in florida

While it is perhaps not the most effective technique when it comes to numbers of fish, I prefer to fly fish whenever possible. It is terrific sport and just a tad more challenging than other methods. The shallow water makes it easy to get a fly in the strike zone. In fact, surface flies such as poppers, deer hair bugs, and foam rubber bugs work very well and are great fun to fish. Subsurface flies including Clouser Minnow patterns and wooly buggers are productive when fish are not feeding on the surface.

Read more about Florida freshwater fly fishing charters

I use a 4wt outfit for panfish and an 8wt rig for bass fishing. Floating lines are used. I keep the leader short on the bass outfit and I use a 5x tapered leader for bluegill fishing. In most cases, simply working weedlines and holes in hydrilla and other open spots in the vegetation works best. The water has to be a bit open, even though most of the surface flies have a weed guard on them.

Accessing Lake Panasoffkee

Most of the access for Lake Panasoffkee is on the west side of the lake. There is a nice protected ramp on a canal at Marsh Bend Park. Anglers looking for fish camps can use Tracy’s Point Lodge or Pana Vista Lodge. Both have boat ramps, cabins, and fish cleaning tables at a very affordable price.

In conclusion, this article on fishing Lake Panasoffkee will help anglers catch more fish on this very productive Florida lake.

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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