By Capt. Nate Shellen Contributing Writer
With few storms/hurricanes, this summer enabled the native vegetation to thrive in spite of the water levels. Hydrilla is starting to grow back in some areas of the lake. The water depth on the outside grass lines varies from 3 to 5 feet deep in most areas, and the number of native grasses such as peppergrass, eelgrass, spike rush, and Kissimmee grass is flourishing. With generally good water quality in the littoral zones of the lake, the bass population is doing very well.
Big bass are in the mix and artificial bait anglers are finding bass willing to rise to the top and strike on topwater offerings. Popping frogs and other baitfish imitating lures were the choices of those that had the best success. As always, the trusty rubber worm, as well as a Senko, will always produce quality fish however jigs and other flipping and pitching baits are providing big bites, try a swim jig or a flipping jig tipped with a blue/black craw imitating trailer. A flipping/pitching approach can be very methodical and is basically a system for dissecting the vegetative cover one piece at a time. This approach is known for producing big bass; however, you will catch fish of all sizes using this approach. When employing this style your bait drops nearly straight down into an area and is allowed to sit or (soak) as seasoned anglers call it for longer periods of time. There are times when the fish will inhale the bait as it plunges into their environment, but more often than not, the fish will inspect the bait for several seconds before eating it. Heavy braided line and a very strong rod are necessary to wrestle the fish from the thick gnarly cover once you have hooked them.
The water temperatures in the lake have dropped considerably in the past month with temps in the high 60s to low 70s being the norm. At these water temps, the fish are quite active and can be found biting somewhere in the lake throughout the entire day. Specks/Crappie are starting to show up in greater numbers each week, but also are the number of anglers pursuing them. Nighttime anglers will fare the best with small jigs and minnows fished in the Kissimmee River. Fish are being caught well out of the mouth of the river as they move from the lake toward the river and or shoreline grasses to prepare to spawn.
Everyone is looking for the ideal time to catch fish, particularly big bass, October through May would be that time. As far as the best bait to use for those big bass, nothing outperforms a live wild shiner. In addition to catching fish, the sheer beauty of Lake Okeechobee is a sight that everyone should experience. There is nothing like a sunrise on Lake Okeechobee, the majestic beauty of the huge lake awakening is just awe-inspiring.
Capt. Nate Shellen
Shellen Guide Service
Okeechobee Bass Fishing Guides/Charters
(863) 357-0892 • firstname.lastname@example.org