Welcome to the Okeechobee edition of Coastal Angler Magazine. As typical for this area, we have a tendency of skipping springtime and head right into the throws of summer. This year it seems to have come quicker than usual. In July we reached temperatures and weather patterns generally associated with the dog days of August and early September. Lord knows what August will bring. We’ll accept anything but a drenching tropical storm or hurricane for with all the area lakes being unusually high for this time of year, a few feet of additional rain could become a serious issue for Lake Okeechobee and the areas downstream of the lake’s discharges. Let’s hope Mother Nature will spare us this summer and help us return to normal lake levels.
By August we’re well into the summer patterns for local bass and panfish. The bass bite has become an early pre-sunrise bite and the afternoons are just too hot for man or bass to be moving about on the lake. Both are seeking shade and shelter by noon time on sunny days. For those top water aficionados, this is your time of the year. Whether working a frog across a pad of lilies or a patch of floating duck weed, we await that explosive bite with every cast. For local pan-fishermen, Bluegills will remain active through the month and just perhaps the Shellcrackers (Redear Sunfish) will show up eventually for they have been M.I.A. through the spring and early summer.
On the hunting scene there is good news, effective July 30th both deer and fall turkey seasons have opened in Zone A for bow and crossbow. For both deer and turkey in Zone A, the season runs until August 28th while for crossbow, the season runs until Sept 2nd. For those new to Florida or to hunting, the state is divided into four Hunting Zones, A through D. Zone A includes the area south of Lake Okeechobee. The north-central border of Zone A transgresses the area south of State Road 70 from the city of Okeechobee to the western edges of Hardee and DeSoto counties east of Route 17. On the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee the border runs along State Road 441 / 98 down to where they join up with State Road 80 and then turns due east to the Atlantic coast. Refer to the zone maps on www.MyFWC.com for further details. All hunters are required to have a valid Florida hunting license and applicable permits for managed lands. Hunters born on or after June 1, 1975 must pass a hunter safety course prior to purchasing a license. For area water-fowlers, we are just one month away from the start of the 2016-2017 Waterfowl Season which begins on September 3rd with the opening of Early Canadian Goose season. So break out those shotguns from winter storage, clean and oil them, then head to your local clay club to get back into the swing of leading those clay pigeons.
For those interested in community events, the month of August is generally a pretty slow month around Lake Okeechobee and local communities. Due to the heat and daily threat of thunderstorms, most outdoor events are held early and conclude by mid-afternoon or they are planned for the indoors. I hate to break it to the kids but school starts in August for most of the K-12 classes. On August 3rd, DeSoto County has the honor of being the first local school district to return to classes. Hardee, Hendry, and Highlands County classes will start on August 10th. Glades County classes will start on August 15th, and Okeechobee County classes will start on August 17th. Since the young ones will be eager to get back to their friends and studies, be mindful around school buses and city street crosswalks. Let’s start this school year with no tragic incidents.
With families readjusting to the new school year, the weekends will be prime time for outdoor activities. So get your homework, your house work, and honey-do lists completed during the week also you’ll have plenty of time to escape into great outdoors on the weekends.