Rebecca Rouse, 8.125 lbs
Rebecca Rouse, 8.125 lbs

Despite all the bad reports about Lake Okeechobee in the news as of late, there have been some great fishing on the Big ‘O’. Fisherman in local bass tournaments have had winning catches up to 30-lbs or more, and catches from local guides have been very good. In the recent Garrard’s Bait and Tackle tournament the top ten teams weighed in 20-lbs or better with the winning five fish limit weighing 30.45 lbs. That is great summertime fishing. Most anglers are saying the same thing, ‘it’s an early bite’, so get an early start. If you show up at 9:am, you’re too late. After the early bite settles down, slow down your presentation and settle-in for a slower bite. Third Point, Tin House Cove and the south end of Kings Bar have been great places to start early, with a later bite happening if you move inside and pitch the reeds. Use a spinner bait or swim jig early on the outside edge, and keep a Zara Spook ready if you see fish schooling. As the day gets longer, pitch a jig in the reeds or work a chatter bait slow through the thinner reed patches.  Shiner catches have produced numbers ranging from 20 to 40 bass a morning on half-day trips with a big fish in the 7 to 8-lb range, but most of your catch will be in the 2 to 4-lbs class.  Eagle Bay, Grassy Island, and Kings Bar have produced some good days on the lake. If you want to try something a little different, look for any of the pumps that pump water into the lake, such as the pump at Taylor Creek and watch for Sunshine Bass to school. When the pumps are running it’s common to find them congregating there and they are a great fight and a whole lot of fun. Top water baits such as Pop-R s and a Rattle Traps are deadly on these great fish. On the east side around Henry Creek and J & S Locks, it’s the same pattern, early morning on the outside edges and then move inside and pitch.  If the wind will allow you, start at the island at Henry Creek and work your way south, this should be very productive first thing in the morning.

Bluegills are being caught around Bird Island and on the Northshore. Limits of 50 per person are caught daily, and those limits are filled in an hour or two. Bluegills and Shellcrackers are being caught around the mouth of Indian Prairie Canal on the rocks leading out into the lake. Crickets and red worms work best when catching these tasty fish.

Be sure and stop by Garrard’s Bait and Tackle for all your fishing needs, panfish or bass they have it. They also have the best shiners on the lake. Stop in a say hi and listen to the lies, you will never forget it.