Lake Okeechobee Fishing Report and Forecast: Dec. 2013

Rod Kneur and Nick Casapolis from New York. had a banner late fall day on Lake Okeechobee. PHOTO CREDIT: Capt. Mike Shellen.
Rod Kneur and Nick Casapolis from New York. had a banner late fall day on Lake Okeechobee. PHOTO CREDIT: Capt. Mike Shellen.

The lake level is hovering around the 15 foot mark, which is 7 inches lower than this time last year. As we move deeper into fall, the shorter light hours and cooler daytime temperatures help the water to cool. Water temperatures are 73 to 75 degrees at the present time which leads to longer activity periods for the bass. Every year at this time, the very largest bass that swim in Okeechobee start to move toward the spawning areas in the lake where they will feed heavily and then eventually spawn. The Okeechobee strain of Florida largemouth is unique. Whereas female northern bass will all spawn within a month or so of each other, the Okeechobee bass spawn will start as early as the full moon of November and waves of female bass will continue to move in and spawn throughout the fall, winter and spring. It’s easy to see why the Big “O” is such a fish factory. Spec anglers are starting to catch good numbers of small specks that are under the 10 inch size limit place on the lake several years ago. The Kissimmee River is normally the first spot where limits of large specks appear, aside from the mouth of the river, the area north on the river around the weir is a developing hot spot, as is the lock and dam area above it. Jigs and minnows are the primary baits for snagging the tasty panfish, a minnow many times will outperform a jig numbers wise, but a jig will often provide bites from the larger specks. Artificial baits are still viable for catching good numbers of bass on the lake, top water plugs, spinner baits, Senkos and jigs will all work; however, there is no other bait that will match or out perform a wild golden shiner. Day in and day out live shiners will account for larger numbers of bites from large mouth, as well as they entice the big bites from the largest bass. Good catch rates are being reported by guides with 35 to 50 fish per trip. Big bass are showing up with frequency, bass in the 7 to 9 pound range are an everyday occurrence. Whatever species you pursue, the possibilities are great, if you spend your time using the proper techniques in the correct areas. Sounds easy, huh?

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