Welcome to the Okeechobee edition of Coastal Angler Magazine. The month of May is a wonderful time to be here in south-central Florida. The weather is warm but not overly hot, the late afternoon rains have yet to settle in and drench our evening B-B-Ques, the mosquitos are still at bay, and the fishing is fantastic.
The good news is that it looks like the El Nino that drenched us during the winter months is just about over or at least in a very weakened state which means a return to more seasonal weather patterns. This is welcome news for local farmers, the Herbert Hoover Dike, and those impacted by the freshwater outflows to the coasts. We still may see a wet May but not like the patterns we saw this past winter.
With warmer temperatures and fewer cold fronts, the water temperatures in the lakes will continue to moderate and produce some quality fishing. This past April saw some fantastic bass and pan-fish fishing and this should continue into May. As a reminder to the tournament anglers, as lake temperatures climb above 80°F, you’ll need to begin cooling your livewells to 5-10°F below ambient lake temperatures to reduce the stress on the fish in your livewells. Catch-n-Release does no good if the fish can’t survive to swim another day.
For those looking for social events, there are many music, art, and food festivals around. The DeSoto Watermelon Festival and the Blueberry Festival at the Henscratch Ranch is this month and there are a lot opportunities just a few hours drive to either coast. If you enjoy rodeos there is plenty of action at the Agri-Civic Center in Okeechobee this month with the Florida High Schools and Juniors holding their State Finals in May.
The month of May is also a good time to begin preparation for the 2016 Hurricane Season which starts June 1st and runs through Nov 30th. This year the prediction is for near average totals with twelve named storms and three major hurricanes of Category 3 or stronger. So use the month of May to revisit your pantry and make sure you have sufficient supplies; check the vegetation around your home for excessive growth around utility lines and call your utility company if you need trimming; check your doors, windows, and roof to make sure they are storm ready; and most importantly take this opportunity to review your Hurricane Preparedness Plan with your family so everyone knows their responsibilities when a storm approaches and where to meet if you get separated during the storm. This preparation doesn’t take long but it could make surviving a storm much easier.
Finally, May 8th is Mother’s Day so treat your mother and the mother of your children to a fun filled day. As Cyndi Lauper sings, “girls just want to have fun.”