Mother Nature is to start off the Labor Day holiday weekend with her own brand of fireworks and the fish will be active. Get yourself ready for a big outing on the water with this week’s Okeechobee Bass Fishing Report.
FISHING REPORT OVERVIEW
As we sit back and watch the weather radar and pathway of the approaching tropical storm, the question is, how close will it get and how much rain will it deliver. Normally fish are feeding as a storm approaches and will continue to feed through the storm if conditions are right. Unfortunately with the wind, rain, and lightning, we’ll most likely not be able to take advantage of these conditions. For those who brave the elements or get a nice weather window, you could be in for some excellent fishing. Once the storm passes and depending on how much and where the rain lands, expect the streams, culverts, and spillways to be on fire as all that freshwater and bait get washed into the lakes.
Both shallow and deep water lakes will get stirred up by the storm’s winds and rain so if you can be picky about where you fish. I don’t know about you but I love these times and just have to get a line wet. It’s also the opening of Snook season so expect to see lots of fishing pressure at the spillways and known haunts of Snook. September also marks the end of FWC’s Trophy Catch Season 4. Catches up to Sept 30th are eligible for the Phoenix 619 Pro bass boat drawing but your submittals must be entered in by Oct 15th. So don’t delay, all it takes is one properly documented bass over 8lbs to win this great boat.
Over the past few days, the projected path of TD 9 continues to push westward and is now expected to make landfall in the Big Bend area of Florida. Like most tropical storms, the northeast side of the storm is the ‘dirty’ side with the most active squall lines and incoming feeder bands. So our area can expect internment bands of rain and thunderstorms as the system gets closer to land and moves up the Florida coast. The center of the tropical storm should make landfall in the Florida panhandle early Friday morning and move back out into the Atlantic along the US southeast seaboard on Saturday.
During this period expect unstable weather followed by the return of late afternoon thunderstorms for the remainder of the holiday weekend. Unless the storm’s paths shifts south, expect winds on Thursday and Friday to be in the 15-20mph range and out of the south to southwest and higher during pasting squall lines. By Saturday winds should begin to quiet down and start to shift to the NE by Sunday and be under 10mph. Morning temperatures for the entire weekend should start out in the mid 70’s and top out in the low 80’s in the Highlands and the mid 80’s closer to Lake Okeechobee. Sunrise on Friday will be at 7:02am and set at 7:41pm. Moonrise will occur at 8:05am and set at 8:37pm and will be just 2% reflective. Friday’s AM:Major will occur at 12:22am will the PM:Major occurs at 12:45pm. These periods should be extra strong coming off the New Moon on Thursday. Add 50 minutes for each consecutive day’s periods. For those venturing out on the local rivers, just be extra careful this weekend for rivers like the Peace River, Fisheating Creek, and Arbuckle Creek rise quickly and the currents can be very swift. So be mindful of the power of rapidly rising waters.
Lake Okeechobee: 14.73ft ASL ↓ 0.01-ft, Last Year 12.87-ft
Lake Istokpoga: 38.41-ft ASL ↑ 0.01-ft
Istokpoga Canal S68: Head 38.41-ft, Tail 31.80-ft, Flow 808 cfs
Arbuckle Creek @ DeSoto: 3.60-ft ↓ 0.35-ft, Flow 500 cfs,
Fisheating Creek @ US 27: 3.56-ft ↓ 0.45-ft, Flow 97 cfs,
Fisheating Creek @ Lakeport: 14.91 ASL ↓ 0.26-ft Flow 428 cfs,
Peace River @ Zolfo Springs: 9.34-ft ↑ 0.34-ft, Flow 877 cfs
Kissimmee River @ S-65E: Head 20.92-ft, Tail 14.40-ft, Flow 1,327 cfs
Moore Haven Locks S-77: Head 14.90-ft, Tail 10.93-ft, Flow 477 cfs, 7-Day Avg 659 cfs
Ortona Locks S-78: Head 10.97-ft, Tail 2.98-ft, Flow 1027 cfs, 7-Day Avg 1,112 cfs
W.P Franklin Lock S-79: Head 3.13-ft, Tail 1.36-ft, Flow 1954 cfs, 7-Day Avg 2,110 cfs
St Lucie Lock S-80: Head 13.69, Tail 1.61, Flow 700 cfs, 7-Day Avg 576 cfs
Port Mayaca Lock S-308, Head 14.75. Tail 13.80, Flow 514 cfs, 7-Day Avg 274 cfs
Lake Okeechobee South End
Slim’s Fish Camp, Belle Glade; 561-996-3844: The good news is that the Torry Island Bridge is now open throughout the day. Crews are still working on the bridge but traffic can now use the bridge during the day. Bass fishing remains good with anglers reporting good action near Kreamer Island and Pelican Bay where both artificial and shiners are producing nice size bass in the 6-lb range. Further to the west in South Bay, Boy Scout Cut, Grassy Island and the Dynamite Holes, the bass are preferring live shiners over artificial baits. With Snook season about to open, there are reports of Snook holding near the South Bay Bridge. Remember Lake Okeechobee belongs to the Atlantic Management Zone so the slot limit is 28” to 32” in total length, the limit is one fish per day and you’ll need a saltwater license and a Snook Stamp to harvest these fish. Best baits for Snook will be ones that imitate baitfish such a Bomber Long A’s and the DOA TerrorEyz.
Roland Martin Marine Center, Clewiston; 863-983-2128: With the recent unstable weather few guides have been going out so reporting is somewhat limited. Those venturing out report good action on shiners with plenty of 2-4 lb fish being boated. This weekend marks the beginning of Snook season and black powder deer and turkey hunting (Zone A) so there is plenty of diversion around. In the grass-beds, Bluegills continue to be taken and crickets remain the preferred bait.
The Bait Shop at Harney Pond, Lakeport; 863-946-0170: The Bait Shop at Harney Pond reports the bass bite has been strong though the sizes have been somewhat small. Most of the bass are in the 1-2 lb range with a few 2-4lbs in the mix. The fish are hitting jerk baits, swim baits, soft plastics and of course live shiners. Water conditions are fair though expect to see a rise in flows from Fisheating Creek after the storm passes. Panfishermen are still limiting out on Bluegills using crickets for bait with Bird Island and the Spoil Islands being some of the more active areas. Speck fishermen are also boating a few slabs using jigs and minnows.
Lake Okeechobee North End
Garrard’s Bait & Tackle, Okeechobee; 863-763-3416: Lief reports that bass are still being caught in good numbers both on artificial and on live shiners. Generally the bass are in the 2-4lbs range with an occasional 6-lb or better being brought to the boat. The fish are still in their summer pattern which means getting out early with spinners and top water baits and switching over to pitching and flipping as the sun climbs higher in the sky. Panfishing is mostly limited to Bluegills though Specks are still being caught for those in the know. The Kissimmee River has been spotty with good and bad days. Expect the river to start climbing in the coming week as the tropical storm waters start to make it down to the lake.
J&S Fish Camp, Okeechobee; 772-597-4455: A week full of rain produced limited opportunity for time on the water but those venturing out onto the lake from J&S Lock are finding plenty of bass and panfish including Bluegills, Specks, and a few Shellcrackers. The bite remains a morning bite for the bass with limited action during the afternoons. Inside the Rim Canal, there are plenty of Tilapia which are get sport for those bowfishing and they aren’t bad in the frying pan as well. With lots of fresh runoff being produced, the spillway at the J&S Locks should be an active spot these next few days.
Admiral’s Cove. Lake Placid; 863-465-0982: Fishing the shallow water lakes has picked up with water temperatures dropping due to the rains and gray skies. Bass remain active in the morning though they change their position according to wind and incoming currents. Live shiners are always a great way to landed the larger bass.
Performance Marine, Lake Placid, 863-465-2814: Jeff reports the deep water lakes have been up and down. Being late into the summer season the big fish have seen just about everything one can throw at them so the key is to change up and present them with something they haven’t seen yet. This means getting out of your comfort zone and working some spoons deep, trying a Razor Baits’ Limber Ninja spinner bait, some 12-in worms outside the usual color patterns, and any of those lures collecting dust deep inside your tackle box. Jeff has brought on the Bitter Baits line of soft plastics that have some unique colors so you’ll have a wide selection to choose from. Fish are still following the baits and hanging tight to the brush piles. If venturing out during the nasty weather, the drift will be fast so add weight to keep your lines in the strike zone and use a drift anchor to slow your drift.
Lorida Bait & Tackle, Lorida; 863-655-2323: Fishing on Istokpoga has been tough with this weather. The lake is pretty stirred up so the bigger fish are deeper in the mats. A few bigger fish are being caught but the majority are smaller fish under the 3lb class. Expect Arbuckle Creek and Josephine Creek to pick up their flow in the coming days which generally gives the north end of the lake an advantage over the south end of the lake. Outflows at the spillway remain slow and steady so fishing remains good.
GS Outdoors, Tall Tales Bait & Tackle, Sebring; 863-257-5078: Gray and wet skies are keeping most boaters at the dock so fishing reports are limited. Those fishing are finding the fish are scattered since conditions on the smaller lakes are ever changing. However if you time it right, the bass bite is strong. The morning bite remains the strongest bite especially near shore and then moves offshore into deeper water during the late morning.
Mickey’s Bait & Tackle, Moore Haven, Tom, (Gary owner) 863-946-3100: Snook season opens on Sept 1st so expect to see non-stop fishing at the Moore Haven Spillway and the other spillways downstream. At the moment the flow at Moore Haven is less than 1000 cfs so the current is steady though not overpowering. Snook are active during the day as well at night, especially around bright lights, so don’t be surprised to see plenty of anglers during the evenings at the more active sites. Choosing the right sized lure will depend a lot on the strength of the current, the stronger the current the big the lure or the heavier the weight. With plenty of rain over the past week, don’t neglect flowing culverts and incoming streams. Flowing water always attract big fish in search of struggling bait. If venturing downstream of the Franklin Lock where the water is brackish, fish close or just under the hanging branches of the mangrove trees. At night fishing near well lite docks and structures is also a solid way to catch at Snook. Just remember fishing downstream of the Moore Haven Locks places you in the Gulf Management Zone so the slot limit is 28” to 33” for Snook and you need a saltwater license and Snook Stamp to harvest a Snook.
It looks like our area will dodge most of the heavy weather from the tropical storm though we’ll probably catch the residues in the form of rising waters within a week or so. If your holiday weekend plans call for canoeing or kayaking on the local streams and rivers or camping nearby, be mindful of rapidly rising waters. Especially on or near the Peace River. For those in the Highlands and Lake Okeechobee, gray and wet skies should moderate the air temperatures and make for a nice fishing weekend after the storm reaches the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re travelling this weekend, drive careful and pack and extra level of patience while on the highways. We want you to have a safe and happy holiday weekend and return alive.