Warm days and nights are a lead-up to great fishing on Lake Okeechobee, as stable weather patterns usher in some of the better catching of the year. Speck (crappie) anglers are having a banner year on Okeechobee. It has been quite a few years since so many large specks have been found in the grassy areas that form the littoral zone of the lake. Kissimmee grass is found surrounding the outside edges of the lake on the north end of the lake and is a prime spot to target and find large speckled perch when they move in shallow water to spawn. When Kissimmee grass and other native grasses can be found adjacent to one another, fishing can go to catching very quickly. Anglers targeting the fish are using small jigs on very thin line. With the advent of superlines, braid anglers are finding that the tiny diameter and the incredible strength of the line is perfect for fishing in the heavy cover areas of Lake Okeechobee. A large speck can offer quite a challenge when hooked in heavy cover. Pulling them through weeds and other cover is challenging due to the very fragile composition of their lips, which can rip or tear easily, freeing a hook and the fish to fight another day. Many times I have seen the large smile on a fisherman’s face change to a look of horror as a large speck falls back into the water just as it is about to come over the side of the boat.
Bass anglers are finding that catching large numbers of bass to be tougher this year than it has been in quite some time. The artificially high water level maintained by the Corps of Engineers is allowing the bass to access the deepest part of the marsh where anglers can no longer penetrate due to extreme weed growth. The bite can be a hit or miss affair, one day the fish will be stacked up in an area and eating a spinner bait or chatter bait and the next day the area will seem devoid of fish. The tried and true Senko in a black and blue color or a watermelon/red color will always produce fish, it is just a little slower presentation than most people can stand. Working through an area thoroughly before moving on is much more productive then the run and gun style of fishing seen on Okeechobee. Guided shiner trips are producing 25 to 40 fish per morning with big bass in the mix almost daily. Look for the best bass fishing for numbers and big bass around three to four days prior to and after a full or new moon phase.