Lake Okeechobee Fishing Report and Forecast: July 2014

PHOTO: Dan Shipman from California and a big Okee bass. PHOTO CREDIT: Capt. Mike Shellen.
PHOTO: Dan Shipman from California and a big Okee bass. PHOTO CREDIT: Capt. Mike Shellen.

Some of the best bass fishing of the year occurs every summer when there are few people aside from locals around to enjoy it. Bass fishing in the summer is a little different, we get on the water well before light and make our way to our favorite fishing spot, attempting to arrive when it’s just cracking light. The lake level is around 12.40 feet, a level that forces the bass and the baitfish toward the Kissimmee grass lines that form the outer lake edges on the north end of Okeechobee. Due to the huge numbers of shad, shiners and other baitfish that have been forced toward the outside edge by the low water, we attempt to “match the hatch” with a double willow leaf spinner bait fitted with chrome blades and a white skirt. This bait fish imitating bait will draw vicious strikes from bass that are roaming around in the Kissimmee grass and the outer edges of the cover. On those mornings when all conditions are perfect, you can catch 30 to 40 fish in the first few hours of light on that spinner bait, although varying blade sizes, skirt colors and trailers may be necessary. Once the early bite wanes, we adjust by changing over to an old school Texas rig worm, which is as basic as it gets, call it Bass Fishing 101. Once rigged, toss the Texas rigged worm (black/blue) into the grass edge and slowly work it through the grass letting it sink into holes around the edges or holes in the cover and hang on! This incredible fun usually lasts until somewhere between 9 and 10 a.m., you’ll know when they are done, the bites just quit coming.

Shiner fishing is still a viable option for those anglers looking to catch big numbers of bass, as well as possibly hooking up with an Okeechobee giant. Live bait or artificial bait is the biggest question of the day, it’s a tossup.

Pan fishing has been very good, especially around this full moon phase. Look for bedding fish. The water is ultra clear and shallow in many areas. Both the beds and blue gill both can be easily seen when wearing good polarized glasses. The method used to catch them varies, either a fly rod and teeny popper, or a cricket impaled on a hook under a tiny bobber, they both produce terrific results. If you don’t think you want to drive over during the early morning let me know and I will be glad to hook you up at the Hampton of Okeechobee, very friendly folks.

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