Okeechobee Fishing Report: December 2021

The water level in Lake Okeechobee is over a foot higher than this time last year, around 16 feet. The lack of storms/hurricanes enabled the native vegetation to thrive despite the high water. The water depth on the outside grass lines varies from 6 to 8 feet in most areas, and the number of native grasses such as peppergrass, eelgrass, spike rush, and Kissimmee grass are flourishing. With good water quality in the littoral zones of the lake, the bass population may be at an all-time high.

Big bass are in the mix and artificial bait anglers are finding bass willing to strike on topwater offerings. Popping frogs and other baitfish imitating lures were the choices of those that had the best success. Jigs and other flipping and pitching baits are providing big bites too; try a swim jig or a flipping jig tipped with a blue/black craw imitating trailer. A flipping/pitching approach is very methodical and is a system for dissecting the vegetative cover one piece at a time. Although known for producing big bass, you will catch fish of all sizes using this approach. When employing this style your bait drops nearly straight down and is allowed to sit or (soak) as seasoned anglers call it for longer periods of time. There are times when the fish will inhale the bait as it crashes into their environment, but, more often than not, the fish will inspect the bait well before eating it. A heavy braided line and a strong rod are necessary to wrestle the fish from the thick cover once you have hooked them.

The water temperatures in the lake have dropped in the past month with temperatures in the high 60’s to low 70’s. At these temperatures, the fish are active and can be found biting somewhere in the lake throughout the entire day. Specks are starting to show up in greater numbers each week, but so the number of anglers pursuing them. Nighttime anglers will fare the best with small jigs and minnows fished in the Kissimmee River. Fish are being caught well out of the mouth of the river as they move from the lake toward the river and or shoreline grasses to prepare to spawn.

October through May is the ideal time to catch big bass. As far as the best bait to use for those big bass, nothing outperforms a live wild shiner. In addition to catching fish, the sheer beauty of Lake Okeechobee is a sight everyone should experience. There is nothing like a sunrise on Lake Okeechobee, the majestic beauty of the lake awakening is awe-inspiring. The amount of birdlife on the lake right now is incredible with roseate spoonbills, Everglades snail kites, red wing blackbirds, osprey, ibis, limpkins, great blue heron, egrets of all kinds, to name a few that have shown up this year. Should be a fantastic year so book your trip now.

Capt. Nate Shellen
Shellen Guide Service
Okeechobee Bass Fishing Guides/Charters
(863) 357-0892