As an angler and a conservationist, I’ve noticed a lot of changes on Lake Okeechobee. In my opinion, too much of the cattails, reeds and all the essential grasses and vegetation needed to clean the water and have a healthy fishery are being killed off. In the Everglades, water has been super high for the entire summer. So high that animals have been displaced, having to swim to look for dry land. Not good. I hope mother nature will correct what man messes up soon.
So here’s what I’ve been doing to catch fish. Best times have been night time and early in the morning. Top water such as hollow belly frogs, spooks,chuggers all will get your arm broken starting first light and avoiding the heat. Swim Jigs are also a great search bait.
#1 – Lake Okeechobee: Even with the above being said…fish are hitting on the outside edge. I recently found some of my better fish to be back a bit. The best search baits have been swim jigs with a dipper or craw on them. Chatter baits, Spinner baits, Rattle trap, Big easy, Easy swimmer, have been catching their share of fish. Some of the bigger fish have come from slowing the retrieve way down. Pitching big jigs with your favorite baits are getting crushed. I also like a naked bait, meaning no skirt. Gambler Baits – Why Not & Flappin Daddy, ugly otter, are just a few.
#2 – Mile Marker 35 or 41: Fishing here is really good right now. Swim big worms through the pads for the chance of getting a monster fish.Try EZ Swimmer, burner worms & Aces fished wacky or Texas rigged. Flukes, horny toads, flappin’ shad and worming the bottom. I like the points as well as dragging a jig. Flip them there and you will have some good success. Make sure you go really slow around the weirs.
#3 – Sawgrass: More of the same, bass and more bass. I like to use small plastics here. 5 inch Aces are working great. Water Management has been moving water around in this area. In addition to all the run off from the rain, it has muddied up the water. Here’s the rule – dark or dirty water dark colors like black & June bug. Also, flake in the worms is great when water is dirty. Clean or clear water light colors such as watermelon green, green pumpkin.
#4 – Canals along 27 around Brown’s Farm: Read Rules. Stay in the deeper part of the canals and throw to the edges. Work your presentation out of the grass-line into the deeper water. All the baits and techniques will work here. Try top water spooks, poppers, worming the bottom, jerk baits and swim baits.
#5 – Holiday Park: The water has been up all summer and fishing has not been great. However, it still remains one the Florida Everglades leading bodies of water. All the techniques above will work in the park. My favorite Swim big worms through the pads for the chance of getting a monster fish. Also the swim jig. I like to throw it in the thickest pads and swim it out. The big fish are in the shade under the pads. I like to flip a sinko in the pads and let it sink. The best time is early in the morning hours & dusk. I have caught a few peacocks recently in the Glades. Remember if you don’t have a boat you can rent one at Everglades Holiday Park.
DON’T FORGET THE URBAN CANALS THEY ARE FULL OF FISH AND DON’T GET THE PRESSURE!
As always, if you’re not going to eat the fish please handle them with care and return them gently back to the water. If you see line that has not been disposed of properly, please pick it up. It’s up to us fishermen and women to preserve our sport for years to come.
Stay safe out there. Till next time…Fish On!
Capt. Neal Stark
Fishing with America’s Finest, Inc.
“Changing Lives One Cast at a Time.”
501(C)(3) Non-Profit Organization, FEIN #45-5494005
American Everglades Guide, Inc.