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

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Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- December 20, 2009

 

Picture in your mind, crystal clear fresh water with miles of native vegetation stretching from the shoreline and extending well out into the lake where it creates extraordinary fish habitat like no other lake in the country does. A lake that is blessed with moderate temperatures year around that enable it to produce fish that grow at an incredible rate and in great numbers. That would be Lake Okeechobee, I know you are probably thinking the hurricanes ruined that lake, and it did, for a couple of years. Now, due mostly to Mother Nature with some well timed help from the South Florida Water Management Lake Okeechobee is once again a thriving beautiful lake. The SFWMD scraped many areas on the North end of the lake removing years of muck buildup created in part by the willy nilly spraying the Corps of Engineers does almost daily, by airboats and now too by helicopter.
 

The scraping efforts provided fish a clean and hard bottom where they could spawn, something that has been missing for several years due to the hurricanes. Once the muck layer that was 18 inches thick in some areas was removed the seeds from native vegetation that had long been lying underneath the muck started sprouting and lo and behold, a miracle slowly took place. The native vegetation, eel grass, pepper grass and spike rush started flourishing all around the lake. The area of Okeechobee from Harney Pond to Horse Island is rich with eel grass that grows from the bulrush line out into the lake several hundred feet wide, creating fish habitat extraordinaire. Having fished the lake for over thirty years and seeing the many changes that have taken place including the decline of the habitat, it does my heart good to see the revitalization of Lake Okeechobee. Whether you have visited Lake Okeechobee before or not now is a great time to take in the beauty that the lake offers. Eco tours are offered for sightseers and for you fishermen, well, fish!

 

This November and December have been incredible for anglers whether they are fishing with artificial baits or are using shiners to catch larger bass. The month started well with local fishing guides catching 15 to 25 fish per day, those numbers have swelled to 25 to 40 fish per day conservatively. The much storied big bass are showing up in the shallow waters looking for a place to spawn, when the time is right. Bass that are carrying roe are presently being caught and if the conditions are right on the upcoming full moon there will be a wave of Okeechobee bass that will spawn.

 

Speck fishing is just starting to improve with a few persistent anglers catching limits of 10 inch specks. The Taylor Creek area of the lake has been a hot spot with the Kissimmee River offering some good catches too. If form holds true and the speck spawn goes as it has in previous years when the vegetation was plentiful, specks will be spawning in the shallow Kissimmee grass that reaches from Codyís Cove to Horse Island.

 

Lake Okeechobee is producing fish at this time comparable to many years ago; she needs the programs that are being implemented to save the Everglades to happen quickly. The waters from Lake Okeechobee have traditionally flowed south into the Everglades; to truly save the Everglades Okeechobee must be cleaned up first.

 

Captain Michael Shellen

Shellen Guide Services

863-357-0892

 

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- November 9, 2009

 

We had a beautiful week on Lake Okeechobee this week. We fished with wonderful people from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Georgia, Illinois and of course Florida. We did have some rather blustery winds Thursday, Friday & Saturday but managed to find areas to avoid the brunt of the wind and still catch bass.              

 

Boat traffic has increased dramatically in the last few weeks. There are anglers pursuing and catching specks although many of them have been under the legal size limit thus far. As the water cools more of the keeper size fish will materialize and anglers will suddenly be catching nice sized specks, the bite will start first in the Kissimmee River and then later will take place in the shallow grass lines of the lake. The anglers that are catching nice keeper sized specks have been traveling to other lakes north of Okeechobee, Lake Marian, the Stick Marsh and lake Kissimmee being the most productive thus far.

 

Bass fishing on Lake Okeechobee is very good with anglers catching good numbers of bass on artificial baits. Top water, flukes skinny dippers and other soft plastics are all producing strikes. Numerous anglers have reported seeing bass on, or near spawning beds in the last couple of weeks during the full moon phase. It is only a matter of time before the real giants start stalking the shallows preparing to spawn.

 

Our shiner fishing trips are producing 35 to 50 bass per day, there are days when the bass make us work harder to catch them, but it appears there are a lot more bass around this year than last. Saturday I fished with Carol Devine from Ft Drum and her 11 year old grandson Wilson. Carol, Wilson & I had a great morning of catching bass on their inaugural bass fishing trip on Lake Okeechobee.

 

Cpt Michael Shellen

 

 

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- Oct 18, 2009

 

Bass Fishing:  Anglers experienced great catches of Bass Friday and Saturday prior to the arrival of the first cold front of the season. I fished with Brian & Christi Delahunt from Buffalo NY, they caught 34 Bass to 8 pounds Saturday, after the front had moved thru Sunday we managed to catch 17 Bass to 6 pounds. The water temps cooled 8 degrees overnight slowing the bite considerably. Shiner fishing is starting to get better weekly, and we are catching better quality, larger bass as fall progresses.
 
Panfish: Several anglers have reported catching Crappie (specks) around Okeechobee on jigs. Most of the Specks have been running under the 10 inch size limit required to keep them for table fare. Cichlids are being caught in the local canals as more anglers are targeting them, most that have eaten them compare their taste to blue gill.

 
Captain Michael Shellen
863-357-0892
 
photo:

 

Brian Delahunt from Buffalo NY caught this big Bass on a shiner Oct 17, 2009

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- Oct 9, 2009

 

Our weather has changed over the past couple of weeks, with cooler nights and slightly less hot days. Of course the length of the days has much to do with that. During this time of year the days are getting short, all of these factors contribute to cooler water temperatures on the lake. Instead of the water being 85 to 90 it has been 79 to 82 in the areas where we have been fishing. With the cooler water temperatures the bass seem to be moving quite a bit.

For the last three days we have returned to an area where we have been catching bass with relative ease, only to find that sometime during the last 18 hours the bass had moved. One day they were in the very thick cover, and the next they were in relative open water with very little cover, the third day they were scattered around in both of the areas I just mentioned. Many anglers feel that the full moon has a great effect on bass particularly, and the full moon of the last week was a doozy, we had relatively cloud free nights with a bright October full moon shining all night. We had been catching some quality bass in the areas we are fishing but the full moon seemed to make the bigger bass reluctant to bite. The tournaments that were held this weekend seemed to reflect the same theory, with less weight being required to cash a check than in previous weeks.

We are still catching bass on numerous baits soft plastics, spinner baits and top water baits, the bigger bass are still being taken by those anglers flipping and pitching creature type baits in heavy cover.

We attended the grand opening of the new Hampton Inn last week and were treated to a great time, Manager, Mary Chesley and Director of Sales, Amy Selby are both working very hard to build a great rapport with the folks in Okeechobee. The new Hampton Inn is a first class facility and if you have not seen it yet stop by and meet the friendly staff.†

Cpt Michael Shellen
863-357-0892

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- Sep 14, 2009

 

It was another good week for bass fishing on Lake Okeechobee. As good as fishing has been I am somewhat surprised to see that very few boats are taking advantage of the bite. The average number of bass boats at Okeetantie varies from 2 to 6 on weekdays, and is double or more on the weekends, numbers that pale in comparison to years passed. I try to talk to as many anglers each week as possible, and the bass fishermen I have talked to are for the most part very positive about the condition of the lake. I have talked to a few anglers that struggled in their efforts to catch bass, but they admitted that they had not been fishing recently.
 

As the lake continues to rise the bass are moving, some deeper into the heavier cover, while yet others are showing up in relatively open water in pursuit of newly hatched shad. There are still good numbers of fish to be found on the outside grass lines, but each week it seems that more of the fish are moving away from the edge and into the marsh. We caught bass this week on a popír, spinner bait, fluke and several other variations of plastics.

 

Local guide Mike Krause reported that an angler reported to him that there were good speck & blue gill catches at Lake Kenansville last week. Lake Kenansville can be reached by going north on highway 441 to the town of Kenansville, the access road is just past the old cow palace restaurant, take a right and follow the dirt road several miles back to the lake. The ramp you will find there is paved, although if memory serves me well, it is quite steep. The specks were caught on jigs around the hydrilla beds and the blue gills were caught on crickets.

 

Cpt Michael Shellen

Rock Bottom Deals at Cabela's

 

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- Aug 23, 2009

 

Fishing has becomes very predictable over the course of this very hot summer. The summer heat has raised the water temperatures into the mid-eighties in some areas making it essential to be on the water very early if you are bass fishing. We caught bass on top water baits just as it was getting light, but once the sun raised it ended. As the morning progressed it was necessary to slow our presentation and use a bait that we could keep in front of the fish for a longer period of time in order to get bit. We are still having our better success using a Zoom trick worm. We have tried many different colors of worms and most days the fish have not displayed much of a preference for a certain color, although darker colors are my favorites. Horny toads, spinner baits and flukes are still getting bites for us, but not as many as previously.

 

The West side of the lake from Point of the Reef all the way down to Turners Cove is absolutely beautiful, eel grass is growing well out into the lake in many areas and the bass are using the grass as a place to hold between feeding sessions. We have caught bass in every area we fished down the Western side, although many were small year class size bass.

 

Blue gill and cichlids can still be caught in the local canals using crickets, grass shrimp or red worms. The blue gills are considerably thinner at this time of year than they are in the spring, I'm guessing due to the hot water. I am still getting reports from anglers that they are catching blue gill in the lake, but in most instances it is a case where the anglers happen to be fishing in an area and stumble into a bedding area for the blue gill.

 

Okeechobee has yet another business to be proud of! I met with Amy Selby and Inn manager Mary Chesley this week and took a tour of the new Hampton Inn, the place is incredibly beautiful. Okeechobee has never had an Inn that is anything like it. It will be a perfect addition to our fair city. The grand opening is scheduled for late next month, Welcome to Okeechobee Hampton Inn!

 

Captain Michael Shellen

863-357-0892

(Please mention Okeechobee 360!)

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- Aug 16, 2009

 

 The last few days the wind has been the biggest obstacle we have had to face in our fishing. The wind and the rain kept many anglers from even going fishing as the ramps at Scott Driver and Okeetantie were basically empty. We had good success catching bass on artificial baits using top water baits, flukes and horny toads drawing several early morning strikes, the bulk of our bites came on soft plastics fished on or very near the bottom. If you have not been on the water in a while you will be very pleasantly surprised to see the tremendous growth of desirable cover for bass and other game fish. Eel grass, and hydrilla both are flourishing in the lake, the recent rains have kept the water temps in the low to mid eighties a temperature that would be considered quite low in mid-August on Lake Okeechobee.

 

Bass are still very active, some days well into the morning. We experienced some of our best catching from 10 am until noon this weekend with our better fish being caught then also, we did not catch any 7 to 8 pound fish but we did catch numerous fish in the 3 to 5 pound range. As has been the pattern all summer we caught many small 8 to 12 inch bass too, which we are taking as a good sign that our spawn was successful. Lake Okeechobee looks better at this time of year than it has in several years and with positive media reports we should have a great season, something every business in our great city needs.

Cpt Michael Shellen

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- June 8, 2009

           

Fishing was terrific again this week; the worst thing I could say about this week was I didnít have many customers to take fishing. Bass fishing is very good with bass being caught in all areas of the lake. The bite on artificial baits is so good this summer that It has not been necessary to use live bait (shiners) to catch fish. The fish have been very cooperative about eating our artificial baits and have made it relatively easy so far to catch bass even with our less experienced customers. We have been catching good numbers of fish using a plain old plastic worm. Most of our customers have little if any trouble using a spinning rod, once they are given some basic instructions. We have had folks of all ages catching bass on a worm, the color of the worm has not seemed to matter on most occasions although occasionally the fish will get picky, and then we have to figure out what color they like best and stick with it.

 

The heavenís above have opened up on us the last three weeks and dumped a fair amount of much needed rain. The lake has responded by rising slowly, which is the best way for the health of the lake to be maintained. We all have seen what rapid fluctuations in the water level can do to the lake and the fish, and we do not need that again. Letís all continue praying that we continue to be blessed with daily rains and that the lake returns to a safe and healthy level for the next season. So many people in Okeechobee depend on the lake for their livelihood; whether directly or indirectly the lake has an affect on all of our lives, letís make sure it is treated with the respect it deserves.

 

Blue gill fishing continues to be fair to good with decent numbers of fish being caught. A fly rod is my favorite way to catch big blue gill this time of year, whether on a popping bug or a sinking bug. It is possible to catch all of the big blue gill you can eat whether it be in the lake or any one of the local canals of which there are many. Grass shrimp is a sure fire bait for all pan fish but big blue gill and shell cracker will eat them with a vengeance even when they will not eat other baits. 

 

 

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- April 26, 2009

 

Fishing traffic on Lake Okeechobee is very low at this time of year. The anglers we see fishing are for the most part residents with a few visitors mixed in. Those anglers lucky enough to be fishing Okeechobee at this time have been treated to some of the best Blue Gill fishing I have ever seen. This week we fished from J&S canal on the East side of the lake around to Moore Haven on the West side. If you do decide to launch your boat at the J&S canal public ramp be very careful, there is a drop off at the end of the ramp. We were able to launch my Ranger there 2 different days this week so it can be done, but if the water drops much lower launching will not be possible at that particular ramp. We caught a mixture of big blue gill and cichlids in J&S canal with more cichlids in the mix than any where else we fished. We next fished the Kissimmee River, catching mainly big blue gill with an occasional undersize speck mixed in. We then moved to Harney Pond and ran the lake to Indian Prairie launching at Harney Pond only because the Ramp at Indian Prairie is closed due to construction. We caught mainly blue gill there with a few cichlids and again a few undersize specks were mixed into the catch. We then fished in Harney Pond canal which produced a mix of big and medium size blue gill in addition to twenty undersize specks that could not resist eating our crickets. We moved to Sportsmenís canal the next day and found big blue gill, there are miles of canal that can be accessed from the ramp at Sportsmenís. Our last move was down the West side to Moore Haven where we fished the rocky areas along the canal edges and caught some spectacular blue gill, not only were the fish very large, close to a pound each, there were great numbers of them as well. We fished for blue gill from sun-up till mid-afternoon each day and caught well over a hundred fish per day, mostly on crickets. We did manage to catch fish on a fly rod with a popper and a sinking bug but the fly was not as productive as the crickets so we quickly switched back to the crickets. Our rig was very simple; we used a 14 foot bream buster fiberglass rod with 6 pound test line, a #6 long shank hook for easy removal, with a couple small split shot pinched six to eight inches above the hook and a tiny foam cork that we could slide up and down the line to access various depths. We kept enough fish each day to provide a fish fry for our customers and there families and released the rest of our catch to be caught again another day.


We spent a lot of time probing and hunting for large concentrations of big blue gill and once we finally located them we caught one big blue gill after another, it was another great week of catching on the Big ďOĒ!

 

Bass fishing has been consistently good for the last few weeks with twenty five to forty fish per day being caught on artificial baits. The fish are biting on many different kinds of lures, swim baits have been a big hit with both the bass fishermen and the bass. The skinny dipper has accounted for a large percentage of the fish caught each day, but nearly every angler that leaves the dock has one tied on. The skinny dipper phenomenon reminds me of several years ago when the horny toad was a dominant lure on the lake. The fish are seeing a bait (skinny dipper) that they have never seen before and they can not seem to leave it alone, it is a very versatile bait that can be fished on top, mid-depth on near the bottom and has caught fish for us when other baits could not. Bass are being caught on many of the old standards around the lake as well; spinner baits, flukes, trick worms, speed worms and top waters will all put fish in the boat.

 

The lake is approaching the sub eleven foot mark, a level which will soon put the outside vegetation out of reach for boaters, already numbers of fish are moving into some of the slightly deeper areas. Once again the COE has put the livelihood of those that depend on the lake for their living in jeopardy. If the COE had not released three feet of water from the lake over the winter we would be in great shape going into the summer months, as it is now they have set us up for another drought through micro-management.


Bite of the week:

 

Blue gill can be caught in great numbers in the local canals and the lake at this time. If the wind is blowing hard and you can not fish the lake nearly any of the canals will produce big blue gill for you. J&S canal, Indian Prairie, Harney Pond, Sportsmenís, And the rim canal out of Alvin Ward Ramp in Moore Haven to mention just a few. We have been catching them on crickets, but a fly rod at times is just as effective. With good sun glasses it is easy to spot the bedding areas of these fish, they are not always on the bed, but will hang around the periphery of the bed itself. Move your baits around the bedding areas till you find where the fish are holding and at what depth.

 

 

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- April 26, 2009

 

It was a great week on Lake Okeechobee! We started the week fly fishing and caught a variety of fish including bass, blue gill and cichlids. We had to change flies several times before we found the fly the fish would eat. Monday we fished with three generations of the Holt family and had one of the best shiner fishing trips of the year, catching bass after bass for the first several hours of the morning until we ran out of shiners. Amanda Holt caught an 8 Ĺ pound bass that was extremely skinny from spawning, but she was a huge fish!


At this particular time of year it is possible to catch as many bass on artificial baits as you can on shiners many days. We caught bass on wacky rigged worms and senkoís, spinner baits, skinny dippers, speed worms and lipless crank baits. I have received reports of anglers catching from 20 to 45 bass this week on artificial baits, that is good fishing!


The pan fish bite is still very good, we caught some very big blue gill on crickets in the local canals this week and there were numerous other anglers enjoying the catch as well. I talked to two anglers near the mouth of the river that were catching big blue gill on beetle spins and grass shrimp. The grass shrimp were out performing the beetle spin two to one.

 

I was lucky enough to be a fishing/fly fishing instructor for the annual Women in the Outdoors event sponsored by the NTWF (National Wild Turkey Federation) held at Quail Creek this weekend. Over 70 women enjoyed learning about different aspects of outdoor life. There were courses for self defense, fishing, nature hikes, canoe/kayak, hand gun, line dancing, Florida History, eco tour, Dutch oven cooking, archery and how to make swamp cabbage. Allison Murphy did a great job of coordinating and running the event and made sure it was a great success. Keep your eye on the paper for next years date and sign up for a very fun day in the outdoors. Thanks for including me in your day ladies!

 

Captain Michael Shellen

 

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- April 4, 2009

In spite of the high winds these past couple of weeks fishing in general has been good, even great in some instances. The full moon is approaching and blue gill and shell cracker are moving towards shallow water to fan spawning beds. It does not matter whether you are fishing the Kissimmee River, the lake or one of the many local canals there are fish holding just off of their bedding areas waiting for the proper time to move in and spawn.

This is the time of year when we sometimes divide our fishing day into two different segments. This week first thing in the morning we targeted bass, and caught 15 to 20 each morning, and then when the bite slowed around 11 am we moved into one of the local canals and targeted pan fish. Our rigs to catch pan fish were as basic as it can get, we used 14 foot long bream buster poles with 8 pound test line, a small hook and a split shot above it to weight the cricket down, and a tiny bobber which we set 2 to 4 feet deep. It is necessary some days to probe different depths to find exactly where the bigger fish are holding. Some days the fish were in two feet of water other days they were right off the edge on the break in 5 to 6 feet of water. Once you figure out what depth you can catch the fish in, it is all about covering water until you find a concentration of fish. We caught at least 35 to 40 pan fish, blue gill, shell cracker and cichlids each day. Some days you have to weed through some small fish until you can ascertain where the bigger fish are holding. Each day we were able to keep 15 to 20 large fish for the frying pan.

Conservation is a key element regardless of the species of fish you are pursuing and catching. Keep only as many fish as you can eat so that others may enjoy the resource for years to come. There are size and bag limits for most species of fish so be sure that you are within the law before you take them home for supper.


 

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Report- January 16, 2009

 

Shiner fishing Has been getting better as the season progresses. We are catching more big Bass each week. Already this season we have caught 2 fish over 9 pounds, (9 pounds 4 ounces) (9 pounds 10 ounces) and 7 Bass over 8 pounds.

 

The big Bass are very fat and full of roe and have moved shallow to spawn and they will continue to hang around the shallow water until they are done spawning. When really big Bass get in very shallow water they are more susceptible to being caught on a live wild shiner.

 

 

2009 Captain Mike Shellen fishing Reports

 2008 Captain Mike Shellen fishing Reports

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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