Lake Okeechobee’s massive size can be quite daunting to even an experienced angler/boater. When first setting eyes on the lake, nearly everyone makes the same comment, “Everywhere I look appears to be a great fishing spot”. That quote is true to a certain extent as fish frequent every area of the lake. However, the areas where an angler can catch large numbers of bass are very “area specific”. Once located though, an angler can experience the best fishing/catching of his or her life. Being able to read the cover is critical to the process and is something learned with time and experience. Also learning where fish want to be at a certain time of the year is key to finding the fish year in and year out.
During the winter months the prevalent wind is from the north to northeast which makes the northern end of the lake “fishing friendly”. Areas to fish during this time of year are, Grassy Island and further along the east side of the lake to the J&S Lock area. The main lakeside of Kings Bar is a good spot when the winds are north northeast, as is the entire shore from the pole at Pierce Canal, traveling west to Harney Pond, Horse Island, Worm Cove and Indian Prairie are all great fishing areas between these two points.
Techniques being used at this time are varied, as nearly all anglers have a style of fishing they prefer. Fast moving baits, such as a rattle trap, are putting numbers of small bass in the boat, especially in areas where they can be found schooling. Jerk baits and top water will also produce fish as they continue feeding throughout the winter months. Flipping or pitching a creature style bait or a jig are responsible for more big bass at this time of year than any other artificial bait. Senkos and other plastics will draw strikes from small bass as will the old school standby, the rubber worm.
During the winter months, no other bait accounts for the catching of more bass and big bass than a wild golden shiner. The shiner fishing technique is a little different than you may be used to and there are many intricacies to refining your presentation even with live bait. Whether you are an experienced angler or a relative newcomer to the sport of fishing, shiner fishing affords everyone the chance to catch a lot of bass and just maybe the ‘Bass of a Lifetime’. More big bass are caught from a boat than from the living room couch every year so get out and take advantage of the great fishing! Happy New Year and look forward to seeing you out on the water!