John Conner, 6-lbs, with Ed Perry
John Conner, 6-lbs, with Ed Perry

With fall right around the corner and the lake level at 15.17 feet above sea level, bass fishing on the BIG-O has been steady to say the least. Cooler mornings have made for some great fishing as the change of season begins. Early morning top water action remains your best bet. Soft plastic top water swim baits such as Horny Toads and Big E-Zs are producing good numbers on the east side of the lake at J & S and Henry Creek. Tin House Cove, Buckhead Ridge, and Kings Bar are also producing spinnerbait fish early.

This is the time of year that bigger fish start to get that need to pre-stage before they move in and spawn. Late September and early October is when this starts so don’t be surprised if you hit a spot that has the mother-load of big bass one week and they’re gone the next. The trick is to try to follow them to where they are moving to. If you found that school of big fish and they seemed to have moved on, start looking for thicker patches of vegetation or heavy mats that have some clear and clean water close by. There is a good chance you’ll find them there and don’t forget about the area on the outside edge where you found them the first time.

Throughout the pre-spawn the fish will continue to move into the same pre-stage areas and you’ll have the added benefit of finding fish heading back out into the lake after they have spawned. So it’s like you’ll have two shots at them, one coming and one going. It’s also an easy way to pattern fish this time of year. Once you locate pre-spawn fish, study the type of structure, keep a note of where you found them, and then search for additional pre-spawners using similar structure patterns. Being creatures of habit, you’ll find them doing the same thing through-out the spawn as well as year after year.

Shiner fishing has been very good on Grassy Island, Eagle Bay, and Nubbin Slough. Half day trips have been producing catches in the 30 fish range with bass up to 8-lbs. With the lake level on the rise, start looking inside for areas holding fish. Look for pad fields or thick cattail heads this time of year, this is very productive and will produce plenty of action. Remember that when live bait fishing to keep your bait in a good live well with sufficient air supply. It’s very important that your bait is healthy and alive.

Crappie fishing is hit or miss right now but will get better as we move into fall and winter. Reports of crappie in the Kissimmee River around the Route 78 Bridge have been the most consistent, but there have been reports of crappies being caught on jigs around Horse Island as well.

When fishing the north end, be sure and stop by Garrard’s Bait and Tackle for all your fishing or hunting needs, from top of the line bass tackle to alligator hunting equipment, we have it.