Lake Okeechobee Fishing Report: Nov. 2013

Ed Vanstedum from Bradenton caught this big bass in October on a golden shiner. PHOTO CREDIT: Capt. Mike Shellen.
Ed Vanstedum from Bradenton caught this big bass in October on a golden shiner. PHOTO CREDIT: Capt. Mike Shellen.

Every year as fall arrives in South Florida so too does the promise of great fishing. After experiencing extreme low water periods for several years the lake has rebounded by providing huge spawns, and the past five years have provided what some are saying is the best bass action ever seen on Lake Okeechobee. The fish that were spawned then, are now reaching maturity providing more large trophy size bass than ever thought possible. In addition, the great numbers of bass are leaving anglers talking about the sheer productivity of the Big “O” fishery. While some areas further south on the lake have struggled with algae blooms and areas of dirty water, the water on the north end of the lake has remained relatively clear. The native grasses have flourished, eel grass and pepper grass have both made a great comeback along the north shores of the Lake. Add in acres of hydrilla and you have all of the ingredients necessary for to maintain an incredible bass fishery.

The eastern shore of the lake from Taylor Creek all the way south of J&S lock has been very productive, providing anglers with fast action on all sizes of bass. Earlier in the summer most of the bass were positioned along the outside Kissimmee grass lines chasing shad. As the water continued to rise and also cool off , the bass have scattered out, some remaining on the outer edges yet others well back into the marsh areas in the thick tangled cover. Numerous patterns have developed for targeting these fish. A spinnerbait cast into the grass and worked through the grass will claim many bites from schooling fish as will a swimbait that imitates a baitfish. Top water baits cast into holes in the cover will also draw strikes. Many anglers will slowly probe the thick cover and scattered clumps of weeds with creature style baits. Flipping or pitching crawfish imitating soft plastics or jigs into small holes looking for bites from larger bass that are holding tight to the cover.

Every area along the north end of the lake is home to a certain number of bass, the ideal situation is to find the so called mother lode of bass and get into some fast and furious catching. The high water level is allowing the fish to move well back into the marsh areas, which lets an angler catch fish even when the water on the outside grass lines is inundated by rough water.

November is prime time for great shiner fishing; no other bait draws the interest and the ire of a big bass than a live wild golden shiner. Shiner fishing is a specialized technique that provides anglers with a chance to not only catch large numbers of bass but large trophy size bass as well. Golden shiners are native to the lake and are the preferred food of bass of all sizes. Great weather and wonderful fishing make for a great time on the lake.