Record catches by FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee
Capt. Michael Shellen
February 8, 2011
Lake Okeechobee - Freshwater Fishing Report
The recent FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee set the lake on fire. A total of 160 pro anglers from all parts of the world ventured out into the lake on Thursday to test their skills against the Big "O". During practice many anglers spoke of seeing small buck bass and a few females roaming the shallows, but Thursday morning was different, a wave of large female bass had moved into the shallows and were occupying beds in all areas of the lake. Pro Angler Chad Prough led the tournament for the first three days boosted by the strength of a day one five fish limit weighing nearly 35 pounds. Overall there were many 30 pounds plus limits brought to the scales, but as is usually the case consistency ultimately reigned. Brandon McMillan from Belle Glade fishing in his first FLW Tour event was the most consistent angler in the field bringing 5 bass limits to the scale each of the four days that weighed between 25 to 28 pounds. In winning the tour event Brandon also became the first angler in FLW history to top the 100 pound mark, lugging just over 106 pounds to the scale, that's better than a five pound average per fish.
Weigh in each day turned into a testimonial for Lake Okeechobee, with anglers singing the praises of the lake and its massive population of big bass. Pro's and co-anglers alike shared stories of catching more than 100 fish per day. The different styles and kinds of baits were many, with pitching & flipping scoring many of the larger fish. A Gambler big E-Z was mentioned by many anglers as was the skinny dipper. Anglers were scattered all over the lake commenting about finding bass everywhere they fished.
Local anglers too are finding great success even though there seems to be traffic everywhere. Flukes, trick worms, senko's, spinner baits and flipping baits are all drawing strikes. Top water baits are working in the skinny water, when worked over the top of the bass a vicious response can be drawn. As this wave of bass concludes spawning the outside edges of the grass lines will continue to get better with bass looking for a meal after expending great energy spawning.
Shiner fishing has been tremendous with large numbers of bass, and big bass falling prey to wild live shiners daily. With warm and stable weather the extended fishing forecast looks very bright. Average daily catch rates for the last few week are impressive, 50 to 60 fish days are more the norm than the exception. Lake Okeechobee is fulfilling its potential and then some for anglers looking for fast and furious catching action.
If the warm weather and water temperatures continue the full moon on the 18th could actually spur spawning action by bass, blue gill and later possibly shell cracker. These two pan fish are prized by those that love a good fish fry and can be caught in huge numbers when they move into the shallow water to spawn.
Lake Okeechobee is smack dab in the middle of one of the best periods for bass fishing it has ever seen. Many reasons contribute to great fishing, one of the major reasons Okeechobee is so good right now is the 18 inch slot limit that gives small bass a chance to reach trophy size without being harvested. Let's hope them FWC has the common sense to leave the slot in place.
Cpt Mike Shellen
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