Recall your earliest river memories. Rope swings, swimming holes, easy fishing and limitless exploration. While you can never go back in time, you can revisit your youth on the beautiful Wacissa River.
Twenty miles east of Tallahassee, Florida, the Wacissa winds crystal clear and warm for 12 miles. Originating from a dozen limestone springs, the river’s 72-degree water offers up to 15 feet visibility most of the year.
Popular for swimming, diving and birding, the river also offers world-class fishing for largemouth and Suwannee bass, bowfin and giant bluegill.
On a recent trip, Robert Brown, Jean Wilson and I hit the Wacissa in search of trophy bass. As we unloaded our gear, I could hear mullet popping on the surface and alligators bellowing from the overgrown banks.
We spent the day drifting the river, casting weedless lures into the thick vegetation, overhanging branches and narrow creek mouths.
We didn’t find a double-digit largemouth, but who could be disappointed with trophies over six pounds and a citation-sized 16-inch Suwannee. Best of all, exploring the river, telling stories, laughing and relaxing without a worry was just like the good ol’ days.
The scoop on Wacissa River
Camp along the Wacissa River at Goose Pasture. Keep in mind the campsite will close during hunting season. Hotels in nearby Crawfordville provide a bit more luxury.
Harry Smith Outdoors: 850-591-3060, hsmithoutdoors.com.
The Wilderness Way: 850-877-7200, thewildernessway.net.
Savannah’s Country Buffet, Crawfordville – Buffet-style restaurant serving Southern breakfast, lunch and dinner in a rustic, country-style atmosphere.
Largemouth bass, Suwannee bass, bowfin and panfish. Also a popular bow fishing destination for giant mullet.
The spring-fed water remains 72 degrees year-round. Best bass fishing can be during the spring spawn.
To wrestle fish from heavy vegetation, use 50-pound braided line. Rig four-inch speed worms, paddletails and swimbaits with a weightless hook. Add a belly weight to fish the deeper holes.
Work the wild rice and sandy bare areas for aggressive Suwannee bass. Overhanging limbs and bushes along the banks and creek mouths will yield monster largemouth. Sight cast to bowfin holding in the clear water.
While You’re On Florida’s Wacissa River
Paddle kayaks trump pedals in the shallow, weed-choked river. You’ll need a high-quality paddle to fight the stiff current.
3000-series spinning reel. Seven-foot, medium-heavy rod. Three- to five-inch paddletail swimbaits with 5/0 hook and 1/8-ounce belly weight. Speed worm on a 5/0 weightless hook buzzed across the top. Jigs with crawfish trailer or Texas-rigged craws and creatures. For bream, use a Beetle Spin or Rooster Tail. Green, purple and white are best.
Fishing the way you remember it.
Photo: Harry Smith