The bass on Lake Okeechobee are fat and in prime condition heading into the long spawning season. With the abundance of cover and forage on the lake, many of the bass we are catching during our shiner fishing trips are extremely fat, with some being the shape of a football. Shiner fishing catch rates have been high, with 30 to 50 bass per morning trip being the norm. Big bass are more prone to eat a large wild live shiner than any other bait. This time of year is prime time for catching the largest bass of the year. A journal I have kept for many years indicates that the very largest bass of the year is likely to be caught within the next few weeks.
With cold fronts and windy days possible, great catching becomes a matter of timing. There are always places to fish on Lake Okeechobee no matter what the conditions, but the largest concentrations of bass, and the larger bass are found in very area specific spots that are normally situated near the outer edges of the lake where you are more prone to the elements, particularly the wind. There is an abundance of bass to be found lake wide.
The east side of the lake around the J&S fish camp area is teeming with small bass along the outside edges, as well as in the many holes that have opened in the marsh.
The north shore area around Horse Island and Indian Prairie is also a very productive area. There are an abundance of areas that have opened up well back in the marsh giving anglers numerous places to fish even during the roughest weather day.
Grassy Island and Government Cut are areas where anglers can find shelter from the wind when it switches around to the north and still offer great catching opportunities. At 14.5 feet the lake is at a perfect depth, add to that prolific native vegetation growth and crystal clear water, the north end of the lake is the perfect wintertime spot to catch the bass of a lifetime.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) has caught and tagged hundreds of trophy bass on Lake Okeechobee and is offering $100 for the return of their tags along with the information about its catch and its whereabouts. In addition, FWC has devised a trophy catch program for anglers catching bass over 8 pounds to receive a certificate of recognition.