Lake Okeechobee Fl Fishing Report - Bass, crappie weekly update by Captain Mike Shellen

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Captain Mike Shellen's Fishing Reports - 2008

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Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- December, 2008


We are coming up on the January full moon, big Bass are starting
to show up more each day as they move into the shallows. We caught some big bass around the last full moon and we expect another wave of big fish will be caught during this full moon phase too.


We are seeing a lot of movement out of the bass as they start to feel the spawning urge, judging from the number of fish that spawned last month we are yet to see a peak spawn. If the weather remains stable it could get good very quickly.


It is entirely possible to fish an area in the morning and not even get bit and go back later in the day and load the boat with Bass, it happens every year, patience and perseverance will pay off.


Captain Michael Shellen


Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- 11/21/2008


The cooler water temperatures have spurred a Speck bite in the Kissimmee River. Susan Baker reported that a customer came in with a limit of speck the second day of the cold front. Other reports of speck catches were made as well, but none claimed catching limits of fish. With the new size limit specks must be 10 inches long to be kept on Lake Okeechobee and it's surrounding canals. The new size limits for Bass are very strict; Bass less than 18 inches must be released immediately. Bass that are 18 inches long or longer are not good table fare and should be released to spawn and help our fishery grow.


The most productive bait for catching speck thus far has been a minnow under a bobber. Setting your bobbers at different depths until you find the depth the fish are biting at, will definitely up your catch rate. Most of the fish I have been seeing on my sonar unit have been suspended holding about 5 to 6 feet off of the bottom in 13 to 15 feet of water.


There have been speck caught by the die hard jig fishermen, but most of the fish are holding well off of the bank in most instances. There are always some fish that are close to the shallow water cover and can be caught on a jig but there are far more fish at this time holding deep. Those anglers that troll jigs that get deeper into the water column should have better success. There has not been a large contingent pursuing specks so far, but with the cooler weather, angler participation will increase. When the speck start biting the word spreads like a wildfire.


There are still good numbers of chunky blue gill being caught in the rim canal between Henry Creek and Port Mayaca. Crickets and or red worms are the bait of choice.


Shiner fishing is improving weekly, the cooler water temperatures have urged more of the large females toward the shallow water to spawn. Please handle these large female Bass with care, land the fish quickly snap a few pictures and release her unharmed to spawn.


Captain Michael Shellen


Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- 10/18/2008


Lake Okeechobee Bass are playing hard to get right now for local anglers. Bass fishing has proven to be very challenging to even the best anglers on the lake. In spite of how tough the fishing is there have been numerous tournaments on the lake in the last month and there were more than a few fishermen in each tournament that figured out how and where to catch Bass. The fish have not made a showing in every area of the lake as most anglers have expected them to. The one factor that most of the anglers that did not experience the drought and the 9.5 foot water level do not recognize is the fact that the lake rose five and a half feet in a very short time. Anglers are forgetting that the bass have been roaming the open water of the lake for the last two years, and now there are virtually miles and miles of shoreline grass and thousands of acres of newly flooded marshland.

There are many different theories on where the fish are and why can’t we catch them, the most prevalent being that the fish will move inshore in big numbers as soon as we get cooler weather. The fact remains that every day someone is catching bass somewhere on Lake Okeechobee. Right now is not a time when you can go out for a couple hours and catch a bunch of bass. Right now it requires days of probing and patience to find and catch fish. It is relatively easy for most skilled anglers to catch bass when they know where the fish are, this is not one of those times. It has been extremely difficult to pinpoint areas where big numbers of bass are holding. Most times you can locate a few fish in an area and catch a few, but then you must move on to other areas to locate and catch more fish.

Captain Michael Shellen
To book a guide trip or for fishing info:
Call: 863-357-0892


Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- 10/6/2008


Bass fishing on Lake Okeechobee is picking up, three or four weeks ago there were very few fish in the grassy marsh areas on the north end of the lake. The past two weeks have seen a marked improvement in the number of fish that are taking up residence in the newly flooded marsh areas. The BFL tournament held the last weekend of Sept was a success with anglers catching Bass in many areas of the lake. Alan Picos won the BFL with just under forty pound of Bass for the two day tournament, nearly a four pound average.


 This past weekend the Christian Team Tournament trail held their monthly tournament and once again the outing was a big success. Bobby “O”Bannon and his partner Mike Simpson brought 19 pounds of Bass to claim first place, again nearly a four pound average. It was a closely contested contest with Greg McLean owner of Okeechobee Fishing Headquarters and his partner Dick Myers claiming second place with nearly 18 pounds. Greg has not fished competitively for quite a few years and if he is going to start tournament fishing again he will be a force to be reckoned with.


The wind and waves made the lake quite rough Saturday so making the long run to the south end of the lake was not in the cards for several of the anglers that were on fish down there. There are very large schools of shad that are along the west shore of the lake, some days the bait fish are inside the grass and other days they are holding on the outside edges. Bass are feeding heavily on these bait fish and can be found where ever the bait is located. We have seen schooling Bass quite a few times in the last few weeks and with great numbers of shad moving into the grass the Bass are sure to follow. 


We have found that the fish are constantly moving, following the bait and gorging themselves. The Bass we have been catching have been well fed spitting up shad in several instances once brought into the boat. The fish are not exactly jumping into the boat, but if you are willing to put in your time you can catch Bass. As the cooler fall weather brings the water temps down more and more fish should start making the newly flooded marsh areas home.


Captain Michael Shellen

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- 9/14/2008


Lake Okeechobee has reached the 15 foot level, a level at which Bass fishing around the entire lake is possible. The higher water level has opened up areas once again that have not been accessible for several years. We have been chomping at the bit to explore the lake and all of the new possibilities that the huge amount of vegetation presents. For instance the “Pass” which is the area trail that boaters use to access the north end of the lake from Okeetantie Park has grown up with such thick vegetation that there is at present only a couple of narrow trails passing through it. It will not take long for the trails running through the marsh areas to be opened up as fishermen continue to explore newly reopened fishing spots. With the lake rising so quickly some areas of grass and vegetation that are strictly shore grasses will die off opening up areas that are now clogged.


This week we fished numerous areas where the cover looked spectacular; many of them were areas where we had been successful before and there were some fish that had already moved into the marsh areas. The north end of the lake has long been known for its superb shallow water marsh areas and the number of big fish caught on the north end of the lake far outnumbers any other section of the lake. We were able to catch fish in nearly every area we fished this week in the lake and found that there were some quality fish that have already taken up residence in the newly flooded areas. As the days progress and the lake becomes more settled there will be more fish moving into the newly flooded areas of the marshland.


This week in order to catch acceptable numbers of fish for our customers we stuck with the game plan that has been working for us all summer. We once again fished the local canals, J&S canal particularly has been a great place to fish throughout the summer and continues to give up good to great numbers of Bass on artificial baits. Top water baits, swim baits, and a good ole Texas rigged worm have all provided results for us. The Texas rig has provided us with the most bites so consequently we have stuck with it. We caught 25 to 40 Bass per day this week in the canal.


The west side of the lake has areas that are clearing quite nicely, there are fish around Cochran’s pass, Uncle Joe’s and Bird Island. There are many area on the north end of the lake where eel grass beds, and some hydrilla are starting to appear this bodes well for the future of our fishing and we are all very positive about the future of our fishery


It appears that we are going to have a very productive and fun filled fall and winter season here in Okeechobee. The town of Okeechobee has a lot to offer in the way of restaurants and places to stay while you visit our fair city. Okeechobee is the premier fishing area on the lake and offers all the amenities a family could want. We have many fish camps that are right on the water, an attraction that is not offered anywhere else on the lake. A family can bring their boat and park it right outside of where they are staying for easy access.

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- Apr 26, 2008:


Blue gill fishing has been good this week. The fish are just coming off of their beds from the last full moon phase and seem to be relatively scattered. We have to cover a lot of water to catch the quality and quantity of fish that we are looking for. We have not been able to locate great numbers of fish, at least not big fish anyway. We are moving and trolling along the bank and when we catch a hefty sized fish we will spend more time in that area trying to catch other keeper sized fish. During the full moon phase the fish were stacked up in small areas, but now they are much more scattered.


Crickets have been our bait of choice, mostly because they can be easily acquired. We have been taking red worms along on our trips but really have not had that great of a success rate with them. There does not seem to be near the populations of fish of all species on the north end of the lake as in previous years. The dirty water has forced the bait to move and the fish have followed.


Bass fishing has slowed considerably, our catch rates for shiner fishing was 30 to 40 Bass per day, now we are struggling to catch over 20. Most of the Bass in the lake have spawned and we are in a post spawn phase. The water is warming quickly as we head toward our summertime fishing patterns. Normally the running water in the Kissimmee River pulls fish in, with the lack of bait this year on the north end I am curious to see if a bite takes place in the mouth of the River.

Captain Michael Shellen


Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- Apr 22, 2008:


This week opened with great fishing, we had six great days of fishing and, followed by the worst day of 2008. We caught a lot of fish all week on both shiners and artificial baits. We caught fish on top water baits early, and then we caught good numbers of fish on a fluke, watermelon seeming to be the best color as it has been traditionally. The wind kept us from venturing out into the lake most of the week, but we did get out around the edges a little bit and found fish where current was being generated, whether thru moving water or wind.

Everything was relatively normal all week until we caught a 25 inch Snook on a rubber worm in the rim canal. We had caught them in other places around the lake before but this fish was pretty far away from any area that we have seen or caught them before. We released the fish immediately so it’s still in the rim canal on the west side.

There are great numbers of Blue Gill & Shell Cracker fishermen down the west side and on the south end of the lake. The fish are very scattered and do not seem to be in huge schools. The best bite this week seemed to be later in the day, towards evening. I saw several boats catching big Blue Gill one late afternoon and then they were back the very next morning in the same area and could not catch any fish. Grass Shrimp and crickets are the baits of choice.

We had good success this week shiner fishing every day but one. Thursday, Friday and Saturday we caught fish between 7 and 8 pounds. Early in the week as the full moon built we caught good numbers of Bass, 42 being the most.

As the week passed our numbers dropped each day, the nearly full moon was out each night and the fish seemed as if they may have fed at night. Sunday we fished exactly the same place we had fished all week and had a very tough day of fishing, the full moon seemed to have the fish off their feed. The fish that had been holding in 7 to 8 feet of water seemed to have moved into the very shallow water on the bank and they were scattered. The only way we could catch them was to troll and cover lots of ground.


Captain Michael Shellen


Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- Apr 13, 2008:


There is water flowing into Lake Okeechobee from numerous areas around the lake. The Kissimmee River is flowing with all five gates raised up. The Dead River main gate is up also allowing more water into the Kissimmee. According to the SFWMD website there is approximately 28000 gallons per second flowing into the Lake. Let’s just hope that the water that is flowing into the lake is allowed to remain in the lake instead of being released.


Fishing is still very good around the Lake, although we had a very tough time catching Bass in the Kissimmee River Friday. I have heard several different opinions concerning why, but the quality of the inflowing water is more than likely the reason the fish are off their feed. The Rim Canal is still very productive, Bass and Blue Gill are both being taken in good numbers. Bass are biting on top water baits, Shaky Head Worms, and small crank baits. The top water bite is a very early morning bite, once the sun gets higher into the sky the bite goes away.


Blue Gill are still being caught in the Rim Canal, the more successful anglers are using Grass Shrimp and or Crickets. A cane pole or an ultra light spinning rod with light line will work nicely. The fish seem to be 4 to 6 feet deep which is just off of the edge. Some anglers prefer to straight line their bait with only a hook on the end of the line, while others use a small bobber 3 or 4 feet up the line with a small split shot pinched on the line just above a small hook.


The Lake is presently at 10.58 feet which is 6 inches higher than we were at this time last year, it would be a great thing if the unseasonable rains continue and the Lake continued to rise.

Captain Michael Shellen


Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- Mar 20, 2008:

The wind has been a huge obstacle this week forcing many people including myself to try to find an area where the wind was not so bothersome, unfortunately out of the wind also means out of the fish in a lot of cases. The best catching times have been very early morning when the wind is not fully cranked up yet, once 9 to 10 am rolls around the wind is fully cranking and everything changes. A large percentage of the people that are around are first light are gone once the wind starts blowing hard.

Blue Gill are making their presence known in many areas of the lake, Buck Head Ridge canal has always been productive for pan fish and this year is no different. Fly rod aficionados from all over the state come year after year to catch the large had sized Blue Gill the canals of Buck Head Ridge offer. A grass shrimp, cricket or a red worm fished under a tiny bobber will produce many fish for those anglers that prefer to use a long cane pole to catch their supper. Indian Prairie is crammed everyday lately with 30 to 40 boats pursuing and catching Speck, but Blue Gill can be caught there too. Harney Pond is always a great Pan Fish producer although I have not yet heard of any great catches there yet.

As for Shell Cracker I have seen quite a few being caught in the Lakeport area of the Rim Canal, most of them were coming from deeper water on grass shrimp but with the full moon approaching the fish will be moving tighter to the bank to spawn. The wind has been a deterrent to anyone finding and catching big numbers of Shell Cracker in the lake, but as soon as the winds cease I know there will be a number of fish caught by those willing to spend the time searching for the beds and once they find them they will catch hundreds of these tasty fish just as they did last year.

Take A Kid Fishing!

Captain Michael Shellen


Captain Mike Shellen Report- February 10, 2008:


Speck fishing has slowed down somewhat over the last couple of weeks. I am seeing about half as many speck fishermen in the river as I did previously, and I attribute that number to a slower bite. Indian Prairie has been a hotspot for jig fishermen with 20 to 25 fish per day being the norm. Most of the specks are being taken in the area of the canal adjacent to the lake, some days it is necessary to work your way farther inland from the mouth of the canal in order to find cleaner water.

A strong south wind can muddy the water quickly when it is pushing the lake water into the canal. Another contributor to the dirty water that gets pulled into the mouth of the canal is the steady pumping of water out of the canal into the agricultural area at the far end of the canal. When the pumps generate current it sucks the more stained water into the canal and the longer the pumps run the dirtier the water gets around the mouth of the canal. Sportsmen’s Canal is still providing a good bite, but it too is subject to the wind, on calmer days it can still be quite good.

Bass fishing has been good and is getting better as we approach the full moon phase; February is traditionally a good time to catch a trophy size Bass. It is very important to remember that these fish are accessible in the shallow water because they are there to spawn, when you catch one of these big Okeechobee spawners handle them carefully, if necessary weigh them, photograph and release them back where you caught them to spawn and provide a future for our bass fishery.

Please practice CPR when you catch a trophy size Bass; Catch, Photograph, and Release, that way our children, and their children will still be able to enjoy fishing Lake Okeechobee for big Bass.

Captain Mike Shellen Report- February 3, 2008:


Speck Fishing has slowed considerably over the last few weeks. There could be a number of reasons for this, warm weather being one, but there is another more alarming theory that most of the specks that moved into the river in large schools have been caught, filleted and either eaten, or waiting in someone’s freezer to be eaten. Our speck fishery can not withstand the barrage of catch and filet fishermen that are pursuing them day and night. The simple fact is that with minimal spawns for the last several years our lake is very close to reaching the breaking point.


Lake Okeechobee is in need of stricter regulations regarding our speckled perch population. A size limit of 10 inches should have been imposed long before now, insuring we fishermen of having a future for our fishery, there are far to many fishermen with a "catch it - keep it" mentality no matter what the size of the fish. If smaller specks are not released to spawn and produce offspring we will not have a fishery in the future. A bag limit of 10 fish per angler would be highly effective too, 20 filets provide enough to feed numerous people.

Many speck fishermen feel that there should be limitations on the amount of rods that a person can have in the water. The biggest complaint I hear is that one or two anglers on a boat can employ and fish 20 to 30 rods.

I also here horror stories about unethical anglers that are basically stealing fish from our fishery, these are the anglers that catch a limit of fish in the morning, take them home and filet them and then return in the afternoon or evening to take another limit of fish. According to the law it is legal to have more than 2 limits of specks in your possession, in other words it is illegal to stockpile filets whether you take them home or keep them in your freezer.


I have heard accounts of anglers that were bragging to their neighbors about taking home 2000 filets, practices such as this are not only illegal they are unethical and downright rude. People that practice such tactics are thoughtless and uncaring about the future of our fishery for our children and other anglers. If you no someone that is in violation of the FWC laws for fishing call them and let them know what is going on, they are as concerned as we are about preserving our fishery.

Bass fishing is good and should get better as we approach the full moon phase, every year in February there are many huge Bass caught, and please practice CPR, catch, photograph, and release, it will help insure the future of our great fishery.


May to December, 2007 - Captain Mike Shellen fishing Reports

  April 2007 Captain Mike Shellen fishing Reports.  
  Past Captain Mike Shellen fishing Reports.  
  guide service business card

 Here is Dan Wall with two of the 19 bass he caught today (1-15-07) with Captain Mike.

 click on the picture for more detail or see the picture and complete story on Captain Mike's Blog.


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