Springtime Big Bass on Lake Okeechobee
Capt. Michael Shellen
March 10, 2011
Lake Okeechobee - Freshwater Fishing Report
Springtime on Lake Okeechobee is a favorite time of year for many anglers, aside from the fact that the cold weather has departed, fishing for bass, blue gill and shell cracker is at its peak. The full moon in March normally triggers a wave of large bass, shell cracker and blue gill to move into the shallow water to spawn. If you add warm stable weather and the beautiful Lake Okeechobee scenery to the prospect of being able to catch about any species of fish your heart desires, it's a beautiful thing. For those of you that have never witnessed the sheer beauty of the big lake and its incredible amount of wildlife, you are truly missing one of nature's great works.
The lake level is at 12 feet, a full 18 inches lower than this time a year ago. The falling water level urges the fish to slowly move toward the outside band of vegetation around the lake. Of course when the fish get concentrated on the outside edge and in the Kissimmee Grass that surrounds the lake in many areas they become more accessible to anglers. Spinner baits, speed worms, horny toads and skinny dippers will all draw strikes. The massive expanse of eel grass that lines the North Shore and the West side of the lake is home to great numbers of all species of fish. The grass is thick in some areas but also provides areas where clumps of isolated grass grow well off of the shoreline. The fish will sometimes stack up on the hard edge of the cover where the grass meets the hard sand bottom, the fish can be seen swimming along on the bare sand searching for an easy meal. Others times bigger fish can be found holding on the isolated clumps offshore and if targeted can be caught on a senko, lipless crank bait or some type of worm.
Specks are being caught out beyond Kings Bar straight out of the Kissimmee River in large numbers, as the specks move toward the grass lines where many of them will spawn they temporarily stack up in large schools offshore. Minnows and slow trolled jigs will work best. Some hard core anglers are already gleaning some very nice specks from the grass lines on a jig. First the males show up and then the females will move in to spawn in the grass.
Starting this month blue gill and shell cracker will be the focus of many anglers around the lake. Everyone, including myself love tom catch and eat the large pan fish that Lake Okeechobee has to offer. When the fish move shallow in large numbers to spawn the catching can at times be fast and furious. Crickets, grass shrimp and red worms are the go to baits for many savvy anglers. Fly rod anglers can simply tear it up when the fish get in the skinny water. Popping bugs and or a spider or cricket look alike can illicit savage strikes on top from the chunky pan fish. There are many species of fish to pursue in the lake, but for the joy of catching and then eating, blue gill and shell cracker are unsurpassed. The filets are white, mild and flaky and when freshly caught, filleted and fried offer a sartorial treat of epic proportions.
Bass fishing continues to be very good on the lake, stable weather and warm water are a recipe for biting bass. Whether shiner fishing or casting artificial baits we are catching bass daily. Whether you are an experienced angler or a novice wanting to learn the ropes, it is possible to catch bass, the fish numbers are huge and the bite on most days is friendly, meaning the fish most often cooperate to a degree, whether it's a rampant bite or a steady bite, that's why it is called fishing.
Cpt Mike Shellen
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