By Capt. Nate Shellen Contributing Writer
Cooler temperatures will trigger many different changes on Lake Okeechobee. After reaching the high to mid-eighties during the summer, the water temperatures have fallen into the high to mid-seventies. This cooler water triggers longer feeding periods in general. The large trophy sized female bass that make themselves scarce during the summer months suddenly appear on the outside grass lines stalking the massive schools of baitfish that have hatched out during the summer. Along with the big females, all the bass in the lake are in a feeding frenzy as they eat to prepare for the long spawning season.
There are numerous patterns that will work for catching fall bass. It’s a great time to catch bass on a top-water bait. With the many styles, colors, and sizes of top-water plugs, it is difficult to pinpoint what really works best. My experience has been that the bait an angler cast and works with the most confidence, is the most successful for that angler. One of my favorite lures is Pop-R’s which has a cupped face that throws water and imitates a fleeing shad. A Bang-o-Lure is a very old bait but still performs quite well. It has props that throw a shower of water as you retrieve it. Then too is a Zara Spook Jr. that features a walking type action that drives fish crazy at given times. There are literally hundreds of different baits available and they all will catch bass in the right situation. Knowing what color and action to use in certain situations is a skill that is acquired by tying a bait on and making enough casts that you become proficient with it.
Spinnerbaits, soft plastics, and lipless crankbaits all have their place in the boat and will all draw strikes in the right time frame. Being able to read the cover and having the imagination to use the right bait with the correct presentation is a skill that is learned from putting in long hours on the water. Fishing with a more accomplished angler is a great way to learn new skills and perhaps widen your understanding of reading the cover you are fishing. The best anglers in the world are those that are able to adapt to any situation and still catch fish.
As fall progresses the bass will form into large schools and move about the Lake following either the baitfish or responding to the moon phases. Okeechobee is blessed that our bass do not all spawn at the same time, waves of bass will move in to feed up and them spawn from mid-October through the end of April or May. What this means is that at any one time we have bass that are in pre-spawn mode, bass that are actively spawning at this time, and then there are bass that have already spawned and are ravenous from the rigors of spawning. The long spawning “season” is the thing that separates Lake Okeechobee from all other bass fisheries in the USA. This fall has already started out with a bang with 4 fish over 9 pounds between early October and November.
In addition to world-class bass fishing, the town of Okeechobee offers great amenities for the anglers and their families. Great accommodations, fish camps, down-home cooking, and friendly folks are all waiting for you. Come see for yourself what Lake Okeechobee is all about.
Capt. Nate Shellen
Shellen Guide Service • Okeechobee Bass Fishing Guides/Charters
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