Summer Bassin on Lake Okeechobee
Capt. Michael Shellen
September 8, 2011
Lake Okeechobee - Freshwater Fishing Report
We are right in the middle of Summer, dog days as the old timers refer to them. The water temperatures on Lake Okeechobee have risen into the mid to high eighties in the shallow water areas of the lake. The deeper water canals, the Kissimmee River and the moving water sections of the lake are several degrees cooler. This week in order to continue to catch bass we found it necessary to either fish current areas or shade.
Bass react to bright sunlight similar to people, seeking areas that offer shade, and will hold underneath the edges of a steep drop-off or hydrilla wall. A bait presented tight to that wall where the bass are holding will often draw a reaction strike from the fish. Many areas in the Rim Canal have rocky edges and over the years the wave action has eroded the water underneath the rocks forming an underwater ledge where bass will hold, just out of the sunlight.
With the ultra warm water the hydrilla fields in the lake have proliferated and are actually growing right to the edges of the depth changes in the lake. Even the deep water canals have hydrilla lines forming along the edges of the canals which offer shade for bass. Of course deep water offers shade too, but our best fishing, and catching are still in the shallow water of the main lake.
Our morning fishing trips find us on the water just as the sun starts to rise. Each morning we start with a top water bait of some sort. A pop'r, chug bug, tiny torpedo or a walking style bait have all worked well for us at different times. Some days we catch as many as 20 to 25 bass with our top water offerings, other days we may only catch 5 to 10 fish before the sun gets up and they refuse to rise up and hit the bait. In that case it's necessary to change to a bait that gets deeper in the water column, many times right on the bottom. Skinny dippers, swim senko's, plastic worms and flukes are all part of our catching arsenal
As a rule we always use the lightest weight possible when fishing with plastics, as not to inhibit the action built into the bait. As the water has gotten hotter over the last month we have found ourselves having to use heavier weights in order to get the bait right on the bottom in the face of the fish. Along with more weight our presentation has been slowed as well, we are just inching the bait along trying to keep it in the strike zone for as long as possible.
Pan fishing for blue gill, specks and shell cracker also picks up as the water cools. Speck fishermen will dot the Kissimmee River at night trying to catch limits of Specks, anchoring their boat and using a minnow under a tiny bobber. Another popular techniques is trolling a jig, which enable anglers to cover more water. Both of these methods have merit and at times produce great catches of fish. Blue gill will be close to the banks in the local canals as well as along the weed lines that line the main lake. Grass shrimp and crickets are the better baits fished under a bobber. Some anglers have great success fishing a red worm on the bottom in deep water in the Kissimmee River, catching good numbers of large shell crackers and blue gill too.
The water has risen just enough, that the outside grasslines are fishable, it requires shutting you boat down well offshore and idling in to fish, but is well worth the effort.
Cpt Mike Shellen
More Fishing Reports: