By Capt. Nate Shellen Contributing Writer
As the season progresses and the water warms up, the artificial bite will get better and better. Local Okeechobee anglers and visitors have been experiencing great bass fishing this winter. Traditional areas like Grassy Island, Tin House Cove, and Indian Prairie are all teeming with bass. From the eastern side of the lake, all the way south down to J&S Fish Camp, anglers are finding bass willing to cooperate. Topwater baits, 10 inch plastic worms, flukes, spinnerbaits, Skinny Dippers, Big Easy’s, and Wacky Worms are all picking up bites for skilled anglers, and shiner fishing is providing anglers with large bass every day. More big bass fall prey to live wild shiners than all the artificial baits combined; average catch rates vary from 25 to 50 bass per trip, and bass in the 7 to 10-pound range are being caught regularly.
We are fast approaching panfish time on the lake. Normally, shellcrackers are the first to show up, looking to spawn traditionally in March, but sometimes as early as a late February moon phase. Bluegills will not be far behind the shellcrackers, often using the same bedding areas to spawn. Red worms, crickets, and of course, grass shrimp are the primary baits for catching large numbers of panfish. Simple rigs are best for pan fishing; we use jig poles, primarily with 8-pound test line, a small hook and a tiny bobber to dip our bait into holes found in the cover or along the canal edges.
The MLF Tour was on the Lake last month from Feb. 21-26 as many of today’s top pros were fishing this tournament and many have experienced big bags and big checks on this lake. Timmy Horton, Brett Hite, Ish Monroe, Jason Lambert, and Randall Tharp, where Tharp stands out as he won an FLW Tour stop, finished second twice, and tallied an astounding seven FLW Top 10s on Okeechobee over the past decade.
Lake Okeechobee is finally receiving the acclaim that it deserves for its fishing. For the past three to four years, the Lake has been producing great bass catches like no other lake in the world.
Capt. Nate Shellen
Shellen Guide Service
Okeechobee Bass Fishing Guides/Charters
(863) 357-0892 • firstname.lastname@example.org