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Manatee River

Manatee County, Florida.

Manatee River midpoint in Bradenton, Florida.

Manatee River ends in Bradenton, Florida.

36.29 miles long (58.40 kilometers)

19630176.97 miles (31591717.30 sq kilometers)

About The Manatee River

About Manatee River, FL

The Manatee River has been designated as an Outstanding Florida Water. Its tea-colored, clean waters and diverse wildlife made it one of the most recognizable rivers along the coasts of Florida. The Manatee River arises in the northeastern corner of Manatee County. It then flows into the Gulf of Mexico at the southern edge of Tampa Bay. It has a watershed that covers approximately 360 sq mi of the Tampa Bay sector of Manatee County. This watershed is made up of two major river systems - the Braden River and Manatee River. These rivers have been impounded to create two reservoirs for potable water supply which are the Ward Lake, and the Lake Manatee reservoir. The Ward Lake, also known as the Bill Evers Reservoir, was built in 1903 and covers around 255 acres of the narrow, winding Braden River. It is responsible for most of the water supply in Bradenton. The Lake Manatee Reservoir was built in 1967 and covers around 1, 174 acres of the Manatee River. This artificial reservoir is used as Manatee County’s primary water supply. Currently, the Manatee River is part of the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve which keeps the water clean. 

The 60-mile long river has a rare ecosystem that nature enthusiasts will appreciate a lot.  Its wildlife includes alligators, turtles, herons, ibis, bald eagles, and other birds, and a wide variety of fish. Also, depending on the tide and flow from the Manatee Dam, different recreational activities can be done near it. 

Manatee River Fishing Description

All About Fishing in Manatee River, FL

The Manatee River is a bit unique compared to all Florida Rivers. Its physiographic location is composed of plains, lowlands, and uplands. This causes the river to have areas as varied as swamps, marshes, and mesic Flatwoods. While the highlands have areas with scattered bushes, pine and oak trees, saw palmettos, and slash pines. Furthermore, the Manatee River has varying water levels in different areas. The deeper part of the river, including Lake Manatee, is an angler’s paradise. It houses different fish species like the largemouth bass, bluegill, speckled perch, shell cracker, stumpknocker, sunshine bass, giant channel catfish, and Florida Gar. The shallow part of the river also houses different fish species but is only fishable by kayak or canoe.

One of the most popular fishing methods in the Manatee River is bream fishing, especially for anglers’ who choose either ultra-light spin or fly tackle. This is because catfish in this river grow at a large size. This causes the light tackle to bust up. The section of the Manatee River from Rye Rd to Ft. Hamer is the most productive stretch that anglers can fish on. It houses a good number of bass and some snook. Because the Manatee River is not far from Tampa Bay, it also houses a variety of species such as ladyfish, redfish, and jacks

Take note that the water levels of the Manatee River vary depending on the flow of water from its reservoirs and the tides. This could affect your fishing experience. Thus, it is advisable to know water release schedules before planning out your trip to the Manatee River. Also, since the Manatee River is a 60-mile long river with three different physiographic locations, it is important to familiarize yourself with the part of the river where you are headed. 

Manatee River Seasonal & Other Description

Fishing Seasonality

Fishing in the Manatee River can be done year-round, but early spring to late fall is the best time of the year to fish. During these times, you could catch a variety of fish starting from the Green Bridge up to the mouth of the river. There is also an area within this season called the bulkhead which is a terrific mixed bag fishing. During this season, a variety of snook, redfish, and trout are abundant. It is advisable that you use whitebait or shiners rigged with 20# to 30# fluorocarbon leader, with a #1 or #2 circle hooks to maximize your catch.

As winter approaches and the weather becomes colder, the snook, redfish, and trout start to move up the river to escape the cold water. Thus, during this time of the year, it is more advisable for anglers to fish deep holes and docks further up the river. To maximize one’s catch, it is recommended that you use a shrimp rigged with 20# fluorocarbon, with #2 circle hook, or a split shot as a bait. 

Manatee River Fishing Charters & Fishing Guides

address

Clearwater, FL

24ft - 6 guests

Starting as low as

$400

address

Anna Maria Island, FL

24ft - 6 guests

Starting as low as

$450

address

Holmes Beach, FL

24ft - 6 guests

Starting as low as

$400

Temperature and Optimal Seasons

Fishing Seasonality

Fishing in the Manatee River can be done year-round, but early spring to late fall is the best time of the year to fish. During these times, you could catch a variety of fish starting from the Green Bridge up to the mouth of the river. There is also an area within this season called the bulkhead which is a terrific mixed bag fishing. During this season, a variety of snook, redfish, and trout are abundant. It is advisable that you use whitebait or shiners rigged with 20# to 30# fluorocarbon leader, with a #1 or #2 circle hooks to maximize your catch.

As winter approaches and the weather becomes colder, the snook, redfish, and trout start to move up the river to escape the cold water. Thus, during this time of the year, it is more advisable for anglers to fish deep holes and docks further up the river. To maximize one’s catch, it is recommended that you use a shrimp rigged with 20# fluorocarbon, with #2 circle hook, or a split shot as a bait. 

Manatee River Weather Forecast

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