Lake Okeechobee Fishing Report and Forecast: September 2014

Eric Dominquez shows off the business end of a big bass!
Eric Dominquez shows off the business end of a big bass!

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s mid-summer and the lake is at the 14-foot mark, nearly 2 feet lower than this time last year. At this present level, bass are holding near the native vegetation that surrounds the lake. It’s important to use your senses while on the water, not only can the fish be seen, they can be heard as they crash the surface in the grassy cover areas as they gorge themselves on shad, shiners and other baitfish that have hatched and are attempting to hide in the cover. The first hour or two of the morning is still the premier time of the day to catch numbers of bass. It is possible to continue catching bass once the sun rises higher into the sky, the catching is normally at a slower rate.

There are numerous productive lures to try each morning. Probing the edges of the cover with a top water bait in hopes that the bass are receptive to what we are offering is always a good place to start. Every fisherman loves to see a bass crash a bait on top, the explosion of water as the fish viciously attacks your bait is exhilarating. There are numerous shiner and shad imitating lures on the market. One of our favorites is a Lucky Craft gunfish. If the bass are not quick to respond to a top water offering, we switch to a spinner bait, normally a white/shad color skirt with gold or silver double willow leaf blades. When fishing a spinner bait in heavy cover, we spool our reels with 45 to 65 pound test, working a bass out of the thick cover requires a medium heavy to heavy action rod. Depending on the direction of the wind, the bait may be getting pushed out of the cover by the windblown current. When the fish can be seen schooling in the open water areas, a lipless crank bait can put fish in the boat very quickly, again a shad/shiner pattern is recommended to best match the forage the bass are feeding upon. At times bass will key in on a particular size of bait which means having different sizes of lipless crank baits from ¼-ounce to 1-ounce can be the difference between success and failure.

Bass are scattered all around the lake during the summer months, not only relating to where the bait fish can be found in the grass, but also where incoming water creates a current flow. As water flows into the lake it sweeps bait and other food items along with it. On the north end of the lake there are numerous areas where water flows into the lake. The Kissimmee River being the primary source, as well as Pierce canal when the pumps are working, Indian Prairie canal, Harney Pond canal and Fisheating creek. Water being released from the lake creates a current flow on the west side of the lake pulling water into Sportsmen’s canal and then south to the Caloosahatchee. There are many different variables that form attractions to numbers of fish and present catching opportunities. Looking for and keying in on such areas can be the difference between a good day on the water and a great day on the water!

PHOTO: Eric Dominquez shows off the business end of a big bass!