A mixed bag of fishing opportunities is the only way to describe what takes place on Lake Okeechobee in April. The bass fishing gets better than ever as the water warms and the fish are driven metabolically to feed constantly. Shiners are still the bait of choice for catching the trophy of a lifetime. Artificial baits start to really shine as the bass respond vigorously to a well placed top water bait such as a Pop’R or a Zara Spook. A Senko rigged wacky style will draw bites from hungry fish with its slow tantalizing fall that seems to drive bass wild. Two personal favorite baits are a very lightly weighted black/blue trick worm, and a weightless watermelon fluke, there is no wrong way to fish this bait, the key is to find out what the bass want on that particular day. On the east side of the lake, bass are abundant around J & S Fish Camp and the Henry Creek area. The area in front of the pier at lock seven is holding fish of all sizes and is easily accessible for all boaters. The Indian Prairie area and the north shore are loaded with small bass that have moved en masse toward the outside grass lines edges to feed heavily on small shad or shiners.
Speck fishermen are still finding good numbers of legal sized fish around Indian Prairie and Horse Island, as well as the mouth of the Monkey Box. As the water warms, the specks will slowly disappear moving toward deeper water areas. Jig anglers seem to be getting the most out of their day as compared to minnow fishermen in the lake area. In the Kissimmee River however, minnows are still the hot bait for day of nighttime anglers.
Towards the full moon in April, diligent anglers will be searching for and locating shell crackers in the shallow waters that line the edges of the lake. Holes in the vegetation will attract these delicious pan fish to fan beds and spawn where they can be easy prey for anglers using grass shrimp, crickets or red worms. Toward the end of the month, blue gill will appear over night and can provide fast action for adults and kids as well. Worms, grass shrimp and crickets are the primary baits for these chunky hard fighting fish. Blue gill and shell cracker are delicious when freshly fileted, lightly breaded and deep fried until golden brown. Add some cole slaw and potato salad and you have a meal fit for a king. The basic equipment for catching either of these fish is a 13 foot long jigging pole loaded with a length of light 6 pound test line, a small sinker pinched on the line to get your bait toward the bottom and a light wire hook, all pretty basic. It is one of my favorite times of year simply because we may start the day bass fishing and end it by catching a nice mess of pan fish.