Exploring Astor, Florida, Along the St. Johns River!

Astor, nestled along Florida’s enchanting St. Johns River, offers a serene escape into the heart of nature’s wonders. This waterway navigates through some of Astor’s most captivating landscapes, inviting adventurers to explore its rich diversity of ecosystems and history. 

How Navigable is the St. Johns River?

The St. Johns River is one of the most navigated rivers in Florida, boasting a depth and width that can accommodate boats of various sizes. Its relatively slow flow and absence of significant obstacles make it a favored route for recreational boaters and anglers. With over 300 miles of navigable waterway, this river offers ample opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Astor, Florida serves as a gateway to the breathtaking beauty of this historic waterway. Boasting a depth and width that comfortably accommodates vessels of all sizes, this river promises an unforgettable journey. Its gentle currents and minimal obstacles make it a favored route, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable navigation experience.

Canal with boat docks, Astor, Lake County, Florida, USA
A quiet day along the river!

How Far Can You Boat on the St. Johns River in Florida?

From its origins near Vero Beach to its mouth at Jacksonville, this body of water spans approximately 310 miles. Astor stands as a picturesque midpoint along this pathway. As you cruise through Astor’s stretch of the river, you’ll be treated to lush forests and bubbling springs each offering a glimpse into Florida’s diverse natural heritage.

Whether you’re interested in birdwatching, fishing or simply enjoying the serenity of nature, this spot has something to offer every boating enthusiast.

Navigate your Way Down The St. Johns River on a River Adventure! 

The St. Johns River offers boaters a remarkable opportunity to explore the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Florida’s waterways. With its navigable waters, wide-ranged ecosystems and recreational amenities the river allows adventurers to embark on a journey of discovery. By respecting safety guidelines and being mindful of environmental considerations, boaters can experience all the river has to offer while preserving its beauty for future generations to enjoy!

Set sail on your own personal adventure! Call 352.759.3422 or visit our website to book your boat rental! Tag us on X, Facebook and Instagram with #CastawaysontheRiver to show off your trip!

Exploring the Charm of Astor, Florida!

A quiet capture of the St. Johns River.
Such a peaceful view of the St. Johns River!

Tucked away along the banks of the St. Johns River, the hidden gem of Astor, Florida invites you to embrace the river life. With its lush landscapes, charming community spirit and rich history, Astor promises a refreshing escape. 

Is Astor, Florida, a Good Place to Live?

For those seeking a peaceful retreat in the heart of Central Florida, Astor offers a serene and idyllic setting. With its natural surroundings and laid-back atmosphere, it’s an ideal place for anyone looking to escape urban living.

The community of Astor is small but tight-knit, fostering a sense of belonging among its residents. This town boasts a range of outdoor recreational activities, including boating, fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing. The slower pace of life allows for a more relaxed and fulfilling lifestyle, where neighbors know each other by name and there’s always a friendly face around the corner!

What River Runs Through Astor, Florida?

Astor sits proudly on the banks of the St. Johns River, one of Florida’s longest rivers. The St. Johns River stretches over 300 miles,  before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean near Jacksonville.

The river is not only a scenic wonder but also a vital ecosystem that supports plant and animal life. Boating and fishing are popular pastimes among residents and visitors alike, allowing them to explore the river’s waters and diverse wildlife.

A lovely evening sunset captured along the St. Johns River!

What is the History of Astor, Florida?

Astor Florida’s history is tied to the St. Johns River, which has been an artery for transportation and commerce in Florida.

The town of Astor was founded in the late 1800s by William Astor, a prominent businessman. Recognizing the potential of the St. Johns River for trade and tourism, Astor established a steamboat landing and hotel, laying the foundation for the town’s development.

Throughout its history, it has been a popular destination for tourists and outdoor enthusiasts, drawn to its natural beauty and opportunities. Today, remnants of its past can still be seen in the historic buildings and landmarks that dot the landscape, serving as a reminder of Astor’s storied heritage.

Book Your Visit to Astor, Florida!

Astor, Florida, holds a special spot for those who appreciate its natural beauty, rich history  and laid-back lifestyle. Call 352.759.3422 or visit castawaysontheriver.com/rentals/ to book your stay today. Whether you’re seeking a weekend getaway or considering a permanent move, This town offers a casual oasis where you can reconnect with nature and immerse yourself in the timeless charm of riverfront living!

What Types of Fish are Located in the St. Johns River?

When it comes to the St. Johns River in Astor, FL there’s a rich variety of fish that call it home. Anglers and nature enthusiasts alike can find an assortment of species swimming through these waters, making it a prime location for fishing and exploration!

What are the most common types of fish found in the St. Johns River?

There is a diverse assortment of fish found in the St. Johns River. You will find both freshwater and saltwater species inhabiting different parts of the river. The river is characterized by brackish water, a unique feature that is not typically associated with freshwater river ecosystems. This distinctive mix of fresh and saltwater creates a dynamic environment that supports a range of marine and freshwater species. The St. Johns River includes species that are typically found in saltwater habitats.

Some of the more common freshwater species include:

  • Largemouth bass
  • Bluegill,
  • Crappie
  • Catfish

On the saltwater side, you might spot:

  • Redfish
  • Flounder
  • Speckled trout

As for the most common fish found in the St. Johns River, it’s a bit hard to pinpoint just one. The river is home to a diverse ecosystem, and the “most common” species can vary depending on the time of year and specific location. However, largemouth bass is often a top contender for most frequently caught fish. Its abundance, combined with its popularity among anglers, makes it a staple catch in these waters.

The catch of the day is secured!

Can fish caught from the St. Johns River be consumed?

The answer is yes, but with a few considerations to keep in mind. The Florida Department of Health has issued guidelines on the consumption of fish from these waters, especially due to potential contamination from pollutants, like mercury. They recommend limiting consumption of certain species like largemouth bass and bowfin to once a week or less. It’s always a good idea to check the most recent advisories before fishing or eating fish from any body of water.

Create your own fishing adventure at Castaways on the River!

Overall, the St. Johns River is a haven for fish of all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re an avid angler or just someone who enjoys observing nature, you’re sure to be captivated by the marine life that calls this river home! Make Castaways on the River your next fishing destination. Rent one of our 20-foot pontoon boats and set sail! Call 352.759.3422 or visit our boat rentals page to get started. Tag us on X, Facebook and Instagram with #CastawaysontheRiver to show off the types of fish you discover!

Florida Boating Requirements

Whether you’re a seasoned captain or a novice navigating the Florida waters, you’ll need to navigate through the requirements and laws that ensure safety and compliance when boating in Florida. Let’s dive into the essentials and requirements to operate a boat in freshwater streams or just off the coast. So, grab your captain’s hat and let’s head into the insight of Florida’s boating laws!

An individual stands navigating the wheel of a boat.
Set sail behind the wheel! Your boating adventure awaits!

Requirements to Operate a Boat in Florida

Before you can embark on your boating journey in Florida, you need to meet certain requirements. First and foremost, anyone born on or after January 1, 1988, is required to complete a boating safety education course, approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). This applies to operators of vessels with 10 horsepower or more. The course covers topics ranging from navigation rules to emergency procedures, ensuring every captain is knowledgeable in the essentials of safe boating.

Safety Equipment for Personal Watercraft

Safety first – a mantra that resonates when it comes to personal watercraft (PWC) in Florida. For PWC operators, the law mandates the use of a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) and a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch. These precautions enhance safety and minimize the risks associated with PWC operation. When renting a boat from Castaways on the River, we ensure your safety gear is in place!

Multiple pontoon boats lined up waiting to be taken out on the river on a sunny boating day.
The pontoons are lined up ready to be taken out for the day!

What are the age requirements to drive a boat in Florida?

The allure of captaining a boat often begins at a young age. In Florida, aspiring young individuals can take the helm as early as 14 years old, but certain conditions apply. To operate a boat powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or more, a 14 or 15 year-old must complete a boating safety education course approved by the FWC. Additionally, they must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 18 years old and possesses the required boating education. Note that individuals must be 18 years of age or older to rent a boat at Castaways on the River. 

Boating Options at Castaways on the River

When embarking on a boating adventure with Castaways on the River, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the boat rental policies. We offer both full and half-day rentals. Keep in mind boat rentals are confined to an 11-mile boundary North and South of Castaways on the River, as indicated on the authorized areas map. If your furry friend is joining the voyage, four boats are designated as dog-friendly, allowing one dog per boat! For a full list of our boat rental information please visit our boat rental page or contact us by calling 352.759.3422!

A dog is shown on the edge of a boat with their tongue sticking out.
Our furry friends love navigating a day out on the river!

From mandatory safety education courses to legal amendments, understanding state requirements ensures your boating experiences are enjoyable but also responsible. Ready to take on the river? Be sure to view our boat rental options at Castaways on the River. Tag us on X, Facebook and Instagram with #CastawaysontheRiver to share your day boating on the St. Johns River!

Exploring the Wonders of the St. Johns River

The St. Johns River is a charming waterway for anyone who loves adventures and nature. And guess what? At Castaways on the River, we have bottled up all the fun the river has to offer. It’s the perfect spot for anyone seeking to dive headfirst into the great outdoors and soak up all that natural beauty!

How Far Can You Navigate the St. Johns River?

The St. Johns River is an ideal spot for all adventures! As you gear up for your river excursion, here’s a handy tip to keep in mind: our boat rentals come with a gentle reminder. There’s an 11-mile boundary both north and south of Castaways on the River. For a visual guide on where your nautical adventures can take you, check out our map of authorized areas. At Castaways on the River, we’ve got fantastic pontoon rentals available, perfect for enhancing your time on the water.

Pontoon boats displayed lined up at Castaways on the River.
Ready to set sail along the St. Johns River!

What is the Depth of the St. Johns River?

Spanning over 300 miles, the depth of the river can vary quite a bit. In some spots, you’ll find it’s pretty shallow, maybe just a few feet deep, especially closer to the banks. But as you move toward the middle, it can surprise you, reaching up to 20-30 feet in some places! It really depends on where you are along the river. So, if you’re planning a dip or wondering about boat clearance, it’s a good idea to check out specific spots or areas along the river where you’re headed.

Is the St. Johns River Freshwater or Saltwater?

When it comes to exploring the waterways around Castaways on the River, one common question that arises is the distinction between fresh and saltwater. The St. Johns River presents a fascinating mix known as brackish water, created when run-off creeks and springs add salt from underground deposits to the river’s freshwater. It also occurs where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean, creating a unique blend. Brackish water is neither fully salty nor entirely fresh; it’s a captivating blend of both. This mix allows for a diverse array of aquatic life to thrive in its midst.

For angling enthusiasts, the brackish water is a treasure trove. With its teeming fish population, including largemouth bass, catfish and crappie, fishing here is an angler’s dream. Castaways on the River not only offers an escape to the river, but also provides insights into the best spots for casting your line. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned angler, the prospect of landing a prized catch in these waters is an exciting lure that can be explored further in “St. Johns River Bass Fishing: What You Need to Know

A largemouth bass is spotted jumping out of the St. Johns River.
The perfect catch!

Get Ready to Explore! 

With its picturesque landscapes and diverse offerings, the St. Johns River is a mesmerizing waterway awaiting your exploration. Are you licensed to fish in Florida? If not, purchase a license today. Whether fishing, swimming or simply soaking in the beauty, you are secured an escape that rejuvenates the soul.

Pack your sense of adventure and prepare for an experience! Castaways on the River awaits, promising a getaway like no other. Visit our cottage and boat rental options to experience it for yourself! 

Secrets to Fishing on Pontoon Boats

Picture this: gliding through peaceful waters, and hooking that next big fish. This isn’t just fishing, it’s a whole lifestyle here! Stick around, we’re diving deep into everything you need to know about fishing on a pontoon boat. Come join the fun!

A Castaways male guest catches fish on pontoon boat!
The perfect catch!

Are Pontoon Boats Good for Fishing?

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, the convenience of fishing off a pontoon opens up opportunities for relaxed and enjoyable fishing. One of the standout perks is the ease of fishing from pontoons. Being elevated on a pontoon gives you the ultimate bird’s-eye view of the water! Pontoons radiate casual vibes—super roomy deck, cozy seats everywhere, the ideal boat for fishing with the family! The relaxed atmosphere adds to the experience, creating an ideal setting for both fishing success and enjoyment while on the water.

Pontoon boats at Castaways on the River are lined up prepared for a day on the river.
Pontoon boats are all lined up for a day on the river!

What are the Advantages of Pontoon Boats when Fishing? 

From their spacious decks offering ample room to maneuver and cast lines with ease to their sturdy construction, ensuring a smooth and secure fishing experience, pontoon boats stand out for their versatility. Equipped with cutting-edge amenities such as:

  • Ample Seating
  • Sturdy construction
  • Versatility
  • Stable platform

Discover the freedom to explore diverse fishing spots and access otherwise unreachable areas, all while relishing the comfort that these exceptional pontoons bring to your fishing journey. 

How Safe Are Pontoon Boats For Fishing?

When you’re out for a chill fishing trip, safety is super important, Especially when you’re hitting the waters on The St. Johns River! Pontoon boats are the way to go—they’re the perfect combo of comfort and stability. Whether you’re a pro or just starting out, these boats are ideal for safety! Picture this: spacious decks, sturdy build, and zero flipping. Pontoon boats give you a solid base to cast your line and reel in that big catch of the day.

Pontoon boats lined up for a sunny day on the St. Johns River.
Come along for a day on the St. Johns River!

Crafting Your Ideal Fishing Adventure 

Are you licensed to fish in Florida? If not, purchase a license today. Get ready to dive into an adventure that’s both easy and exciting. Contact Castaways on the River by calling  352.759.3422 or visit our St. John’s River Boat Rental page to secure your pontoon boat for a St. Johns River fishing trip. Let’s make your fishing dreams a reality! 🎣

Best Bait for Florida Bass Fishing

Explore the art of bass fishing and uncover the best baits that lure these elusive giants from the depths of Florida’s scenic waters. Get ready to enhance your fishing game and embark on an unforgettable journey into the world of bass fishing excellence! 

Bass fish jumping out of the river leaving splashes in the water.
A prized bass leaping out of the river during an evening sunset!

What is the best bait to catch bass in Florida?

When it comes to bass fishing in the Sunshine State, choosing the right bait is key to a successful angling experience. Florida’s diverse waterways offer a variety of habitats and understanding the preferences of bass in different environments is crucial. The St. Johns River is one such ecosystem; the “brackish” water of the St. Johns is a suitable environment for bass. Freshwater bass can tolerate brackish water, which is a mixture of freshwater and saltwater. The top go-to baits for bass enthusiasts in Florida consist of: 

Live Bait: using live bait for bass fishing can be highly effective, especially when targeting larger bass. Common live baits for bass include shiners, minnows and crawfish. 

Classic Plastic Worm: rigged Texas style for heavy cover or a finesse worm for clear waters, these versatile lures consistently attract bass. 

Topwater lures: such as frogs and poppers, shine in Florida’s shallow waters, enticing explosive strikes from hungry bass. 

Swimbait: mimicking the natural movements of prey fish, making it irresistible to bass lurking in deeper areas.

Mastering the art of selecting the best bait will undoubtedly lead to thrilling encounters with Florida’s prized bass population.

Bass fish being caught by bait and lifted out of the river.
A bass being successfully caught by bait during a day fishing on the river!

What is the best time for bass fishing in Florida?

In the bass fishing haven of Florida, pinpointing the best month for angling largely depends on the local climate and the behavior of the bass. Generally, many anglers find that spring is a prime season for bass fishing in the Sunshine State. As the water temperature begins to rise, bass become more active, moving into shallower areas to spawn. This period, typically from March to May, offers excellent opportunities to hook sizable bass. However, Florida’s mild climate means bass can be caught year-round. As for the best time of day, bass are known to be most active during low-light conditions. Early mornings and late evenings are particularly most active, as bass are more likely to venture out of their cover to feed. The cooler temperatures and reduced sunlight make these times ideal for enticing strikes.

What is the secret to bass fishing in Florida?

Flexibility and adaptability. Florida’s bass have a spontaneous presence, so be ready to switch up your game plan. Whether it’s the classic plastic worm or a flashy topwater lure, experimentation is key. Keep an eye on the weather, too—those overcast days might just be your ticket to bass paradise! Florida offers an abundance of excellent spots for bass fishing, catering to both novice and experienced anglers.

Lake Dexter: Lake Dexter in Florida is a popular fishing destination known for its diverse freshwater fish species. Anglers can expect to catch largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and catfish in the lake. The scenic surroundings and abundant wildlife add to the overall fishing experience at Lake Dexter.

An evening sunset caught on Lake Dexter
An lovely evening sunset on Lake Dexter. The ideal fishing destination!

Lake Woodruff: Lake Woodruff in Florida is a popular fishing destination known for its diverse aquatic ecosystem and serene surroundings. Anglers visit the lake to catch a variety of freshwater species, including bass, crappie, and catfish. The lake offers both boat and shore fishing opportunities, providing anglers with different experiences to enjoy their favorite pastime. 

These spots showcase Florida’s diverse bass fishing environments, ensuring anglers can find the perfect setting for their preferred style of bass fishing.

Visit Castaways on the River to Explore further bass fishing opportunities!

Are you licensed to fish in Florida? If not, purchase a license today. Castaways on the River will ensure you locate the best fishing destinations along the St. Johns River. Rent one of our 20-foot pontoon boats and set sail! Call 352.759.3422 or visit our boat rentals page to get started. Tag us on X, Facebook and Instagram with #CastawaysontheRiver to show off your prize in the heart of bass fishing paradise. 

Manatees Along The St. Johns River

Manatees Along The St. Johns River! 

Nestled along the serene waters of the St. Johns River, one of Florida’s most enchanting residents glides gracefully beneath the surface – the beloved manatee! Known for their gentle nature and distinctive appearance, these marine mammals have found a home in the St. Johns River. This creates a unique opportunity for locals and visitors to witness their calming presence. As the slow-moving current winds its way through the landscapes, manatees become a key part of the river’s narrative. Join us in exploring the wonder of manatees along the St. Johns River!

What time of year can you see manatees in Florida?

In the Sunshine State, the enchanting presence of these aquatic mammals can be enjoyed throughout the year, but the best time to catch a glimpse of these gentle giants is during the winter months. Typically, from November to March, they seek the warm waters of Florida’s natural springs to escape the cooler temperatures of the surrounding open water. As cold-blooded animals, this species requires warmer environments to maintain their body temperature. The best time to be with them is early morning 6am to 8.30am when they are most active. During this time, spots such as Castaways on the River become popular hubs for manatee sightings.

Manatee spotted along the St. Johns River
Manatee spotted along the St. Johns River!

How do you spot a manatee?

Spotting a manatee along the St. Johns River is an exciting experience and there are subtle cues that can enhance the likelihood of an encounter. To increase your chances of glimpsing at them, look for circular water ripples or a snout breaking the water’s surface. This reveals their need to breathe. Slow movements and the appearance of a large, grayish back just beneath the water’s surface are also telltale signs of this aquatic mammal’s presence. If you’re eager to embark on a manatee-spotting adventure, consider renting a boat from Castaways on the River. You have the freedom to explore the water at your own pace. This increases your chances of encountering these incredible marine mammals! Be sure to acknowledge the signs and take proactive measures, such as respecting manatee habitats and adhering to boating regulations, is crucial in protecting these gentle giants!

Are there Sightings at Silver Glen Springs?

Silver Glen Springs is a haven for manatees! During the winter months, typically from November to March, these gentle giants seek refuge in the warm and clear waters of the springs. Known for their slow and peaceful demeanor, they find the springs to be an ideal sanctuary. The springs provides them with a comfortable environment to escape cooler temperatures elsewhere. Visitors to Silver Glen Springs often have the delightful opportunity to witness these marine mammals gracefully gliding beneath the surface. They add an extra touch of wonder to the already stunning natural surroundings.

A manatee spotted in the clear Silver Glen Springs water!
A manatee spotted along the clear water at Silver Glen Springs!

Plan your Visit to Spot a Manatee!

Don’t miss out on the winter months, the prime time for spotting these majestic creatures. Visit the map of all the best spots for manatee sightings in Florida! Silver Glen Springs stands out as their cozy retreat during this season. Castaways on the River serves as an ideal spot for endless family adventure and happens to be a hub for manatees as well! If you spot a manatee while enjoying the river, don’t forget to share the magic by tagging Castaways on the River! Use #CastawaysontheRiver on X, Facebook, and Instagram to celebrate these incredible moments with us!

Silver Glen Springs – All Exclusive Insights!

Exclusive Insights to a Day at Silver Glen Springs!

If you’re looking for the perfect spot to cool off and make a splash, Silver Glen Springs located in Astor, FL is an absolute gem waiting for you. And guess what? Castaways on the River is here to guide you through this popular destination!

Beautiful Silver Glen Springs!
Silver Glen Springs is an absolute gem!

What’s the Cost to get in Silver Glen Springs?

At Silver Glen Springs, it is free to enter the springs by boat. The entrance fees vary between $6 to $12 per person for a day pass when seeking to go on land. These rates vary, so it’s a good idea to check ahead of your visit. Seasonal passes are offered if you plan on making frequent visits. Enjoying the crystal-clear waters and beautiful scenery is definitely worth the visit!

Rent a boat from Castaways on the River and set sail north on the serene St. Johns River. It’s a picturesque journey that leads to Lake George, the largest lake on the river. From there, the exploration continues as you navigate to this stunning spot! The whole trip by boat takes just about an hour, giving you plenty of time to soak in the beauty around you. Boat rentals at Castaways on the River are available for as little as $150 for half a day! Experience affordable adventure and make unforgettable memories with our boat rentals at Castaways on the River.

Can you Swim at Silver Glen Springs?

Not only is it an instant cool-down on a hot day, but the water is so clear. It’s refreshing, it’s revitalizing and it’s an absolute blast! Plus, the gentle current makes it a relaxing swim so you can float along and take in the stunning underwater scenery. Trust us, this oasis offers more than a rejuvenating experience—it’s a place where you can effortlessly swim off a pontoon boat, for your refreshing adventure! 

Step into Silver Glen Springs!
Step into the refreshing water at Silver Glen Springs!

Safety at Silver Glen Springs

Rest assured, this refreshing spot is a safe haven for swimmers of all ages. The waters here are generally calm and serene, perfect for both experienced swimmers and little ones. With its gradual depth, it’s a reassuring environment for families to enjoy a worry-free swim. You can also visit further details by visiting The Recreation Area!

What is the Average Water Temperature?

Speaking of comfort, let’s talk about temperature. The springs stay at a comfortable temperature throughout the year at an average 72° F thanks to its natural spring source. Even on the hottest Florida days, this spot remains refreshing and inviting, providing a welcome escape from the heat.

Is Silver Glen Springs Kid Friendly?

A dream come true for kids! The shallow areas and clear visibility make it an ideal playground for children to splash around safely. They will love exploring the underwater world, spotting fish and maybe even a playful manatee or two! Visitors are often delighted by the sightings of manatees. Manatees, often referred to as gentle giants of the sea, are large, slow-moving marine mammals known for their friendly demeanor. These incredible creatures have round, robust bodies with paddle-like flippers and wrinkled, whiskered faces. Manatees are frequently spotted during the cooler months, typically from late fall to early spring, seeking warmth in the constant 72° F water. They’re more likely to appear during the quieter times of the day, especially in the morning. Visit our blog about how to spot manatees in north central Florida to discover further insights on where to see these amazing animals!

Two manatees swimming in Silver Glen Springs!
Children will enjoy spotting Manatees in Silver Glen Springs

Book your Trip to Visit! 

At Castaways on the River, we believe in creating unforgettable experiences! Castaways on the River is your ticket to a dreamy riverside escape! We offer boats for half or full-day rentals, you can snag these rentals any day of the week, with differing rates depending on the day. Be sure to learn more about our boat rental options. We also offer charming cottage rentals, each with its own special amenities, making sure your stay is exactly what you need. We offer pet-friendly spots too! Ready to dive into this riverside wonderland? Check out the different cottages available!

Whether you’re a solo traveler, a family seeking adventure or a group of friends craving some memorable fun, this spot has something for everyone.

So, what are you waiting for? Dive into the magic of Silver Glen Springs while staying at Castaways on the River! 

Ready to take the plunge? Call 352.759.3422 or visit castawaysontheriver.com/rentals/ to book your stay today!

The Best Bait for Freshwater Fishing

With the best bait for freshwater fishing, you'll be catching fish in no time!

Castaways on the River boat rentals can get you to amazing fishing destinations, but it’s what gets the fish biting that counts. With a little bit of insight, you’ll be catching everything from bass to bluegill like a bobcat in a backwater slough. Let’s cut to the chase, there’s no single best bait for freshwater fishing, but an entire reservoir of options to help you reel in that catch of the day.

While several lakes, streams and creek beds throughout Florida are true sources of freshwater, much of the St. Johns River is considered “brackish.” This refers to freshwater sources with increased salinity, often supporting an ecosystem accommodating both fresh and saltwater organisms. Multiple run-off creeks and springs add salt from underground deposits along the river, resulting in its brackish composition. While many saltwater species can thrive in this environment, this post hones in on the many inland freshwater fish, some of which make their home in the brackish waters of the St. Johns River.

Choosing the Best Bait for Freshwater Fish

It sounds simple, but the critters in your own backyard can serve as bait that attracts the most fish. Crickets, grasshoppers and even the standard worms are all options for the aspiring angler. All three are easy to find in bait shops, plus, keeping these insects and nightcrawlers alive before heading out to fish is simple. Some fishermen even raise their own bait, an easy process thanks to the survivability of crickets, grasshoppers and worms.

Anyone aspiring to catch the biggest, most robust fish should entertain using aquatic prey that larger predators are more likely to encounter in their natural, freshwater or brackish environment. Sure, a mishap might cause a grasshopper to land helplessly in the water, but minnows and crayfish are always swimming in the current or resting on the floor of a creekbed. Both represent some of the best bait for freshwater fishing, being present in several aquatic areas throughout Florida. Leeches are another option and can survive significantly longer out of water. Just be careful not to drop any on your open skin; once they latch on, it can be hard to get them off!

Read about the best bait for freshwater fishing!

Finding the Best Bait in Florida

Pairing the perfect bait to each local species is the key to understanding the best bait for freshwater fishing in Florida, plus, the brackish St. Johns River. Most anglers in the eastern U.S. will be familiar with golden shiner, a common live bait favored by multiple predator fish. The Sunshine State also stocks less-used baits, including grass shrimp, as well as more coastal options like clams. Man-made alternatives include dough balls, cornmeal and flour mixed with strong-odored food, and stink baits, a commercially available catfish bait.

Before visiting your local bait and tackle shop, consider researching what will attract your ideal catch or ask an in-store expert. You can’t go wrong with the standard worm, but sometimes, your preferred fish needs its favorite snack. Many fish thrive in both the freshwater and brackish habitats of central Florida. Selecting the right bait can be the difference between reeling in something you can eat versus an unappetizing catch best thrown back to the water. 

Largemouth Bass

Among the biggest varieties of black bass, the best live bait for largemouth bass in Florida is, in fact, a fellow fish. The golden shiner is perhaps the best live bait to use for freshwater fishing, not just for this fish, but other game fish as well. Try hooking the shiner through the lip or its back on the dorsal fin, allowing the critter to move freely while secure enough to catch a hungry largemouth bass.


One of the most iconic meals with a fin, Florida’s robust catfish population isn’t picky about the best bait for freshwater fishing. Their whisker-like appendages are attuned to strong odors, making chicken gizzards and manmade stink baits a surefire success. Freshwater clams and even live shrimp are also on the table to mimic what catfish might see in their natural habitat. With a wide variety of bait options, fishermen can also fall back on the dependable earthworm to snag one of these beauties on the line.

Black Crappie

Live minnows are the key to catching buckets of black crappie as they swim through the brackish waters of the St. Johns River. Another option is grass shrimp, a freshwater shrimp species and one of the best baits for freshwater fishing excursions. Schools of crappie sustain themselves on waterborne insects and small crustaceans, earning grass shrimp a must-have spot on any angler’s list of reliables.


Ranging from bluegill to warmouth, bream is a loose term referring to multiple types of sunfish. These species vary in where they’re found and what bait each prefers, but make no mistake, you’ll catch a bounty of breeds in Florida. Bluegill are the most widespread, nibbling on insect larvae and worms. Occasionally, bluegill are even used as bait themselves! Redbreast sunfish prefer the same bait as bluegill, but are more likely to prefer moving water akin to rivers and streams. Redear sunfish also chow down on worms, in addition to clams and snails. 

Stack Your Freshwater Fishing Chances

From newcomers to veteran game wardens, the best way to catch freshwater fish goes beyond choosing bait. Every visitor to the St. Johns River should prepare for what they might encounter in the slow-moving, brackish current. Wearing the correct apparel, bringing quality tackle and finding the right fishing spot are other obvious steps, but there’s so much more to consider.

A true, master angler is attuned to the time of day and weather, understanding when to pursue certain species. For example, butterfly peacock bass are found during the day, since they don’t forage at night. Likewise, the time of year also indicates the height of the fishing season for some freshwater fish. Summer tends to yield less striper, since these fish actively feed from fall through spring, preferring water 75 degrees Fahrenheit and cooler. Assessing the local climate can make the difference between returning with a few struggling ditch pickles or a bountiful freshwater feast. 

In Astor, Florida, you'll find the best bait for freshwater fishing

Take the Best Bait for Freshwater Fishing on the Best Boating Experience

Are you licensed to fish in Florida? If not, purchase a license today. Castaways on the River will do our part to get you to the best fishing destinations along the St. Johns River. Rent one of our 20-foot pontoon boats and set sail for Lake George or Payne Creek. Call 352.759.3422 or visit our boat rentals page to get started. If you’re confident you’ve found the best bait for freshwater fishing, it’s time to head to the pier! Tag us on X, Facebook and Instagram with #CastawaysontheRiver to show off your prized catch.