Sumter County is a paradise for those who love sunshine and Mother Nature. We have fantastic trails, numerous boat ramps and more fishing holes than you can count. Welcome to Sumter County!
4,400-acre Lake Panasoffkee—or Lake Pan, as the locals call it—offers some of the best freshwater fishing in the state. Adjacent to Lake Pan are nearly 10,000 acres of pristine wildlife preserve at Lake Panasoffkee Wildlife Management Area (WMA), whose waterways and trails offer mile after mile of adventure. The lake itself is easy to access via three County-provided parks boasting an assortment of facilities, including boat ramps, public restrooms, covered picnic areas and even horse stables.
For a map of the Lake Pan WMA, click here.
Start the day by exiting I-75 at Wildwood (exit 329, where Florida’s Turnpike meets I-75). Take SR 44 west to the Lake Panasoffkee Wildlife Management Area. Grab a good country breakfast at Mo’s Family Restaurant, then spend the morning hiking, biking or geocaching through the trails of the WMA. The wildlife is spectacular, so don’t forget your binoculars or a good camera. Bring a picnic basket and take advantage of one of the many picnic areas.
After lunch, it’s time to hit the lake! If you’re a fisherman, hook up the trailer, grab your rod and tackle box and head for one of the many boat ramps around Lake Pan. Just get back to SR 44 and head west until you reach SR 470. Heading south on SR 470 for about 6 miles, you’ll find the small fishing community of Lake Panasoffkee, where you can access the water and find restaurants and overnight accommodations as well. Public access parks and boat ramps are available at Marsh Bend (Lake Pan) Outlet Park, Shady Brook Greenway Park and Coleman Landing.
For dinner, try one of the local places for lake-fresh fish (link). If it’s Tuesday, check out Catfish Johnny’s locally famous Jam Night for great live music as well as great food. Then head to one of the nearby fishing lodges at Idlewild Lodge, Pana Vista Lodge, Tracy’s Point Fishing Lodge, or Werda Hecamiat Fishing Resort for a good night’s sleep and the warm hospitality that has made the small fishing community of Lake Panasoffkee a favorite among experienced anglers.
Not a natural born angler? Regardless of whether you prefer to catch your fish with a hook or a menu, an airboat tour of the lake from either Wild Bill’s, or Tom & Jerry’s is almost obligatory, especially if you’re visiting for the first time. Grab your camera again because the wildlife is amazing—everything from alligators to bald eagles. It’s a wild adventure for the whole family. Be sure to call ahead if you can; reservations are requested but not required.
After spending a couple of days tackling Lake Panasoffkee and the WMA, you might be ready to head back to civilization. If so, check out the food and shopping at the new Brownwood Town Center. Head back east on SR 44, then turn left onto Powell Road, 4.8 miles east of I-75. You’ll find a vast array of retail shops and restaurants; the state-of-the-art, all digital Barnstormer Theater; and live entertainment and dancing in the streets at Paddock Square.