Lake Okeechobee: July 2022

During these summer months, the early morning bite can be exceptional. Top water baits fished over the top of the underwater cover and around thick grass lines can draw explosive strikes from bass. A walking style or a popper style bait will draw vicious reaction strikes from even the wariest fish. There are mornings when the fish are really on, and an angler may catch 15 to 25 bass in the first hour of the morning, then there are days the fish may completely ignore your topwater offerings.

There are huge schools (pods) of shad that have hatched in the lake that attempt to hide in the Kissimmee grass lines that line the periphery of the lake. During the very early morning, bass can be seen chasing and eating shad, violently crashing the surface. Casting a Double Willow Leaf Spinnerbait deep into the Kissimmee grass and slowly retrieving it can get explosive reaction bites. The variety of spinnerbaits available in both size and color is staggering. A ½- to ¾-ounce bait with silver blades and a white or white/chartreuse skirt is a good place to start. Many times in the past, we have had great success with copper blades or gold blades, there is a time and situation for each blade and skirt color, watercolor and light conditions will dictate what color works best.

At times, schools of baitfish will get chased out of the grass and the bass will follow. Watching anglers will see the fish schooling well out into the open water. When you see this occurring, a rattling lipless crankbait can produce bites as fast as you can cast, hook, and land a bass, and then quickly cast it back into the schooling chaos. A chrome body (rattle trap) with a black or blue back is our go-to color. Size variations from ¼- to 1-ounce are available. Normally when the bass get keyed in on one particular size of bait, matching that size as close as possible can be essential to your success.

The entire northern sector of the lake is yielding good catches of fish. An angler could start fishing at J&S Fish Camp on the east side and work around the lake counterclockwise and catch fish all the way. Points of interest are Grassy Island, Kings Bar, Second Point, Tin House Cove, Indian Prairie, Horse Island, and the North Shore all the way West to Harney Pond, Fisheating Bay, and Point of the Reef.

FORECAST BY: Capt. Nate Shellen
Shellen Guide Service • Okeechobee Bass Fishing Guides/Charters
Telephone: (863) 357-0892

Elton Cleveland and his grandson Jack from Iowa caught these beauties in June on live wild shiners. Jack’s fish weighing in as a Florida Trophy at 8-lbs 1-oz. Photo credit: Capt. Nate Shellen.