One of the most frequently asked questions a fishing guide receives is, “When is the best time to fish Lake Okeechobee?” The answer most often is that there is never a bad time to fish Lake Okeechobee; some days are just better than others. The “big lake” has a tremendous amount of bass, and you can always find fish that are willing to bite, but pinpointing a single day is nearly impossible.
If you are a panfish angler that likes to catch bluegill or shellcracker, then spring and summer are your prime times for catching. Panfish can be caught most days, but the full moon periods are when they can be found in large schools near their spawning areas. The fact that they gather together in large numbers in a specific area makes catching them easier. Panfishing is great for beginning anglers who may want to learn some angling basics and enjoy some fast action. As table fare, bluegill, or shellcracker freshly filleted and fried are delicious.
The water temperature in the lake is near 90 degrees, which means that the bass are feeding daily. The north end of the lake has many different areas that are holding large schools of fish. The outside vegetation lines around Buckhead Ridge and Grassy Island are holding large numbers of fish. If you can find a mixture of native vegetation, odds are it will be holding bass. Topwater baits, flukes, lipless crank-baits, swimbaits, and flipping or pitching type plastics are all drawing strikes.
While many anglers are fishing the outside edges of the lake, others are delving behind the first line of grass and finding openings in the grass where fish are holding, too. Many times, we have found a mother lode of panfish while we were bass fishing in these extreme skinny water areas. We simply mark the spot on our GPS and return later to harvest the fish or share the info with others so that they may go in and catch them.
The fishing is still HOT on the Big O with some days producing numbers into the 20’s. Big bass are still in the mix, normal size bass may bite where you are fishing every day for a week, and then the next time the spot is visited big bass seem to have taken over, only to revert to average fish again the next day. Go figure!