Here we go again, lots of high water to contend with this weekend. Prepare yourself with this week’s Okeechobee Bass Fishing Report!
FISHING REPORT OVERVIEW
The passing of Hurricane Hermine to the north of us will have an impact here in central south Florida for weeks to come. The rain that fell in the northern parts of the Lake Okeechobee watershed are already finding their way into the lake. Local rivers such as the Kissimmee River and Fisheating Creek are flowing rapidly bringing large volumes of turbid water into the lake. Finding clear water will once again become a key criteria in finding quality fish. The lake level is quickly approaching the 15.50-ft level which is the level where mandatory releases to the coasts must begin. At the moment the Corps is keeping releases low in order to allow flood waters downstream to dissipate before the lake waters begin to flow. Over the weekend the Peace River was over 16-ft, her flood stage, and public boat ramps were forced to close. Today the river is starting to recede but it will be awhile before the river dips below 11-ft and can reopen to boating interests. All lakes in the region are facing the onslaught of fresh runoff and rising lake levels, so expect the bass to go deeper into the pads and backwaters.
This weekend’s weather will be a continuation of our summer pattern. The barometer will be on a roller coaster ride throughout the weekend with peak high pressure periods arriving every twelve hours and cresting around 11:am and 11:pm each day. Morning temperatures will be in the low 70’s and climb into the mid to upper 80’s during the day. Winds will stay below 10-mph with a mostly eastwardly component for the weekend except around the afternoon thunderstorm period. With light steering currents aloft, afternoon thunderstorms could be slow movers and given plenty of time to develop into stronger storms. So starting around noontime, keep an eye on building storms. Sunrise on Friday will be at 7:05am and set at 7:35pm. The moon will rise at 2:04pm and set at 12:21am and will be 53% reflective. The AM:Major for Friday is at 6:00am while the PM:Major occurs at 6:24pm making the morning and evening bites a good time to be on the water.
WATER LEVELS: 09/08/2016
Lake Okeechobee: 15.10-ft ASL ↑ 0.37-ft, Last Year 13.40-ft
Lake Istokpoga: 38.62-ft ASL ↑ 0.21-ft
Istokpoga Canal S68: Head 38.62-ft, Tail 31.90-ft, Flow 1203 cfs
Arbuckle Creek @ DeSoto: 5.60-ft ↑ 2.0-ft, Flow 1,500 cfs,
Fisheating Creek @ US 27: 5.62-ft ↑ 2.06-ft, Flow 794 cfs,
Fisheating Creek @ Lakeport: 14.91 16.30 ASL ↑ 1.39-ft Flow 1,870 cfs,
Peace River @ Zolfo Springs: 15.38-ft ↑ 6.04-ft, Flow 2,420 cfs
Kissimmee River @ S-65E: Head 20.95-ft, Tail 14.93-ft, Flow 3,769 cfs
Moore Haven Locks S-77: Head 15.29-ft, Tail 11.05-ft, Flow 181 cfs, 7-Day Avg 343 cfs
Ortona Locks S-78: Head 11.05-ft, Tail 3.05-ft, Flow 2173 cfs, 7-Day Avg 1,497 cfs
W.P Franklin Lock S-79: Head 3.01-ft, Tail 1.53-ft, Flow 5834 cfs, 7-Day Avg 4,530 cfs
St Lucie Lock S-80: Head 14.34-ft, Tail 0.85-ft, Flow 904 cfs, 7-Day Avg 910 cfs
Port Mayaca Lock S-308, Head 15.11-ft Tail 14.18-ft, Flow 84 cfs, 7-Day Avg 465 cfs
Lake Okeechobee South End
Slim’s Fish Camp, Belle Glade; 561-996-3844: The afternoon thunderstorms continue to pulse through the area forcing boaters off early but those getting out early are finding quality fish in the south end of the lake. Kreamer Island, Grassy Island, Pelican Bay, South Bay, and the dynamite holes are all pretty active. Water conditions are good and the trails have plenty of depth and bass are using them to move about. The live shiner bite is producing some nice 6-8-lbs fish throughout the morning. Artificial anglers are stalking the grass beds with pitching baits and finding some nice fish. Panfish such as bluegills and crappie continue to be active with the ‘seasoned’ anglers coming back with near limits.
Roland Martin Marine Center, Clewiston; 863-983-2128: The bite seems to be more towards the south end of the lake like areas in and around Pelican Bay, South Bay and Grassy Island. The morning bite is still a white spinner bait or a white swim jig activity though frogs are still producing in the lily pads. After the morning bite, shift to senko style baits and beaver style baits and concentration along the clean edges and weed lines pushed in by the winds. In the trails near Coot Bay and the East Wall, bass are coming in for a sniff and a visit though they are not of any tournament quality as of yet.
The Bait Shop at Harney Pond, Lakeport; 863-946-0170: Ed from the Bait Shop at Harney Pond reports fishing remains good for both bass and bluegills. Though the bass are somewhat small, in the 2-3 lb class, there are plenty of them out there. With lake levels on the rise they are finding their way deeper into the trails and backwaters. Incoming water flows from Fisheating Creek and Harney Pond Canal are pretty stained so the water is dark but clear for now. With these large volumes of water coming into the lake, search for good current and you’ll find the larger fish.
Lake Okeechobee North End
Garrard’s Bait & Tackle, Okeechobee; 863-763-3416: Fishing on the north end of the lake remains good despite the rising water. As more water flows in from the Kissimmee River, finding clean water will increase in importance. The morning bite remains the best time with spinners and topwater frogs still the go-to baits. As the morning wears on, switching to flipping and pitching creature baits will extend the bite. With increasing levels of water, expect the bass to move deeper into the cover.
Admiral’s Cove. Lake Placid; 863-465-0982: Rising lake levels have flooded many grass beds and pads causing the bass to scatter. The morning bite remains active though you’ll have to cover more area to find the fish. Follow the wind and the floating vegetation to find the forage fish and the bass that are following them.
Performance Marine, Lake Placid, 863-465-2814: Geoff reports the deeper lakes remain somewhat inconsistent. Lake levels are on the rise so shallow water fish have plenty of area to roam and hide. Flooded and or sprayed cover are forcing the smaller forage fish to relocate which is causing the bass to relocate as well. Fishing the brush piles remains consistent though not like it has been in previous years.
Lorida Bait & Tackle, Lorida; 863-655-2323: Arbuckle and Josephine Creeks both have strong flows which is bringing plenty of change to the north end of the lake. Lake levels are on the rise allowing the bass to move deeper into the shallows. The spillway has a modest flow which has improved the fishing for those fishing from shore.
GS Outdoors, Tall Tales Bait & Tackle, Sebring; 863-410-2100: Fishing has been slow on the bigger bass but there are plenty of smaller fish being taken. Water conditions are cloudy due to the incoming run off and plenty of pollen in the water. Water temperatures remain high and the subsurface algae layer is being pushed to the top. Pitching and flipping the cover is producing the bigger fish. One topwater lure getting attention through-out the area is the River2Sea Whopper Plopper. These baits are a downsized version of a northern musky lure and they produce a thumping noise and action as they are retrieved across the surface. They’re showing solid results on Highlands County lakes as well as Lake Okeechobee. Rob reports they are flying off the shelf as fast as they come in.
Mickey’s Bait & Tackle, Moore Haven, 863-946-3100: Despite rising levels in Lake Okeechobee the outflow at the Moore Haven spillway is not very high so snook fishing is somewhat slow. However this may be short lived so follow the discharges and be ready when the gates are opened. Further downstream at Ortona and Franklin, the gates are open and the fishing is excellent. Plenty of snook being taken and bass can be found in the calmer waters and canals.
Peace River Charters, Arcadia: With the river near flood stage, public access to the river has been closed. The river will need to return to 11-ft before the ramps will open again.
The waters are back on the rise so paying attention to water quality will be the key. Also pay attention to the shoreline vegetation, if it’s flooded and decaying prepare to move on to better fishing grounds. Some rivers and streams will be overflowing or just too swift to fish successfully. The weatherman should cooperate this weekend so get out there and get a line wet.