Welcome to the Okeechobee edition of Coastal Angler Magazine. Aren’t you glad you‘re in warm and sunny south-central Florida and not dealing with the ice and snow up north.
February is one of those months that is chockful of great outdoor activities. There are county fairs to attend, art and craft exhibits, and lots of canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and boating opportunities.
For county fair lovers, there is the Highlands County Fair at Firemen’s Field in Sebring, the Hendry County Fair at the fairgrounds in Clewiston, the Hardee County Fair at the Civic Center in Wauchula, and of course the Florida State Fair outside Tampa.
For arts and crafts lovers, there is the Rio de la Paz Festival & Art on the River at the South Florida State College in Arcadia, the Lake Placid Arts & Craft Country Fair at DeVane Park in Lake Placid, Grandma’s Grove Craft Fair in LaBelle, the Roaring Twenties Arts & Craft Festival in downtown Sebring, and the Swamp Cabbage Festival in Labelle.
For history buffs and local lore, check out the Battle of Okeechobee Re-enactment at the Okeechobee Battlefield State Park where the largest and fiercest battle of the Seminole Wars was fought on Christmas Day 1837.
As for fishing, February is one of the best opportunities to land a trophy sized bass in both Lake Okeechobee and Highland County lakes. The crappie action isn’t bad either. Our area has lots of water and different types of vegetation to cover so going it alone for a trophy bass can be daunting. Your best bet will be to hire a reputable fishing guide to put you onto a trophy bass, otherwise you could be just pitching and flipping at the weeds.
For a taste of saltwater, the Atlantic Snook season opens on February 1st and Lake Okeechobee falls within the Atlantic Zone for fish management. For west coasters you’ll have to wait until March 1st to harvest one of these line- siders. Just remember for the Atlantic Zone, the slot limit is not less than 28-inchs in total length, tail pinched, or more than 32-inches and the daily bag limit is one fish per day. For the west coast the slot is not less than 28-inches in total length or more than 33-inches in total length and the daily bag limit is also one fish per day. For those fishing on the Caloosahatchee River, you belong to the West Coast Zone and have to wait until March before you can harvest a Snook.
In closing, February is a fantastic time of year to be in Florida so make the best of it and take it outdoors.