SO You have to take the kids to Disney World!
|The middle of summer is not the normal
time you would find MOST people making Florida their
fishing destination. At best the summer destination of
choice in Florida is the local Disney Franchise, not lake
Okeechobee for Trophy Bass. The shame is that folks are
missing great fishing opportunities not far away. Summer
mornings and evenings produce really large stringers of
Largemouth Bass. Some local tournaments produce 6 fish
limits of 40 or MORE pounds. Guided trips produce 6 fish
stringers Over 30 pounds. Even more amazing is the fact
that the parking area at the ramp we launched from was
almost empty of cars. When was the last time you fished a
major impoundment in summer and could pick your parking
My July trip produced 23 bass on our
first half day of fishing. We started out the morning
with 3 dozen wild shiners, and used every one by 9:30. My
partner Lee Fox, was amazed by the action that Butch
Butler and Eddie Perry our guides the two days we were
there regarded as S-L-O-W. Even more amazing to Lee was
the fact that the fish were still so shallow this late in
the year with the water currently in the 85 to 88 degree
range. Fish chased shiners to the surface several times
swirling water near the bobbers which disappeared in a
large splash, making for dramatic lake theater.
All of these fish fought amazingly hard.
Small fish fooled us on several occasions making us
believe that they were larger fish. Late morning fishing
was another surprise to 2 Kentucky boys used to fishing,
deep structure when the water gets into the mid 80 degree
range. Surface poppers, and Tiny Torpedoes produced fish
as well as a Zoom paddle tail shad that was fixed with a
slit in it to make the tail slap the water like a surface
bait as it was reeled across the surface.
We doubled, 2 fish on 3 different times,
and had a triple when we put a third pole out for a short
period of time. Fish were of a slightly better quality
too. 2 to 3 pounds was the average with only few dinks
taking our shiners. The big fish though was a 5.5 pound
largemouth, which took a shiner just as Butch Butler our
day 2 guide said lets real them in and try another spot.
Add in the 3 gar, one which weighed over 10 pounds and we
boated 33 fish in just over 2 hours.
We had to put up with several gawkers who
ran in extremely close on this 500,000 acre lake. One
boat sat and watched us just after we got to our spot,
for over an hour, finally deciding to watch from about 30
yards away. My partner wanted to know if he should cast a
shiner into their boat so they could see how it was
rigged, we decided instead to just continue to catch fish
and make them even more green with envy.
Even more fun can be the monthly Shellcracker runs. The full moon each month in May, June and July bring spawing shellcrackers. These fish build beds as large as a quarter of an acre, and can average over a pound with many fish in the 1.5 to 2 pound range. The largest caught by one of our guides has been a monster shellcracker just over 3 pounds.
Crappie are almost non-existent in the summer, but crappie on Lake Okeechobee during the October to March period can be into the 3 pound range. Good catches will fill a cooler in not time and for crappie fanciers this is a great fillet.
Bonus fish do also appear in the lake on occasion. Tarpon, Snook, Tilapia, and the occasional exotic show up. Tarpon come up stream from the Gulf into the lake and the largest known to date was in the 50 pound range. Snook can live full time in the lake and do get into the 20 pound range. One friend of our guide who was fishing a tournament caught one that weighed over 15 pounds on a spinnerbait on his first cast of the evening. Hmmm do you get disappointed when you catch a 15 pound snook in a Bass Fishing Tournament?? Dont go to the lake EXPECTING to catch these fish. However know that they are around and can turn an extremely good day into a really thrilling day.
Our live shiners were purchased from Garrard's Bait
and Tackle which was only 2 doors down from the Flamingo
Motel Lee and I stayed in, and the store also had guides
available on short notice this summer day. Crickets for
the Shellcrackers, worms and nightcrawlers are also
available. Our guide's for the 2 days I was there were
Bucth Butler & Eddie Perry, who work out of Garrard's
Bait and Tackle.