Lake Okeechobee Fishing Report and Forecast: February 2014

Jim Doll from Kentucky and a true Okeechobee giant! PHOTO CREDIT: Capt. Mike Shellen.
Jim Doll from Kentucky and a true Okeechobee giant! PHOTO CREDIT: Capt. Mike Shellen.

The cold weather has slowed the great bass fishing, the cold water created by the frigid weather is the real cause of a somewhat reluctant bite. When the water temperatures are in or near the 60s bass will normally continue to bite, once it delves below that mark, it can get very tough. This time of year it may be necessary to fish later in the day. Afternoon fishing can improve drastically once the water warms a few degrees. Being cold blooded creatures, bass are not driven to eat when it is cold. The food they do eat metabolizes very slowly, as opposed to when the water is warm, their food metabolizes quickly turning them into feeding machines.

Artificial bait fishing can get tougher, requiring very slow and direct presentations that will stay in the strike zone for longer periods of time. Flipping and pitching presentations that are placed into heavy cover areas work best for many anglers. The north shore is holding a large number of bass, many of them are in the sparse cover areas that have just opened up from either cold weather or spraying by the SFWMD. The east side of the lake is yielding large numbers of fish although a west wind can dirty the water quickly so watch the wind direction.

Even in cold water, a live wild shiner will still draw strikes, although the bites are not as frequent or as aggressive as normal. The great thing about Okeechobee in general is that the water cools quickly but also warms back up quickly; the difference a day makes can be astounding. Many times we have fished with shiners and had to work hard to catch fish, only to return the next day to have the bass slam the baits in a fast and furious fashion.

Speck anglers are finding good numbers of large specks scattered along the grass lines along the north end of the lake from Buck Head Ridge to Harney Pond. Jig anglers have greater success in the heavy cover areas probing small holes in and around the spikerush and hydrilla areas. Every hole has the potential to hold fish, so many times the more meticulous angler will be the most successful too. Minnow fishermen are catching pre-spawn or staging specks along the outside grass lines as well as in the Kissimmee River and other local canals. Night fishermen are getting the better of it many times by fishing from 9:00 pm in the evening until just before sunup. There is no other place in the world like Lake Okeechobee!