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 Fishing Report - December 10, 2011

 

It is hard to conceive that December's fishing could possibly be any better than the incredible fishing we experienced in November. There are huge numbers of bass in the lake, period.  The lake is presently at a perfect level, with huge areas of native vegetation, and the water for the most part is clear.

The past few years we have caught great numbers of 7 to 10 pound bass from the lake, but the for the last three years the single largest bass of each year has been landed in December. In 2009 it was a 12.65 pound giant that was caught December 23rd. In 2010 it was a 12.2 pound bass caught on December 29th, and last year it was an 11.18 pound bass caught on December 15th. Call that a coincidence if you want but I see it as a possible pattern.

The water temperatures are hovering around 70 degrees and the fish continue to bite on both artificial baits and shiners. Most of our larger bass are falling prey to a large , live wild shiner. Artificial baits may account for larger numbers of fish, but they normally will not be of the quality that can be caught on a shiner.

If you get on the lake before sunup it is still possible to catch bass on a top water bait, any number of baits will produce, it is more a matter of getting your offering in the right place at the right time, than a particular color or style of bait. Spinner baits have been producing some very nice bass for us when worked through and around the clumps of weeds and heavy cover. A skinny dipper is still producing for those dedicated enough to stick with it, several colors are working, Houdini and California 420 are two of our favorites. For catching smaller fish a fluke with little or no weight worked over and through the hydrilla will keep the action going all day. Many anglers that are targeting primarily big bass are flipping or pitching with creature type baits like an ugly otter or sweet beaver.

Speck fishing has been good early this fall with anglers catching good sized keeper specks both in the grass and in the open water areas. Anglers targeting the river are catching fish along the edges of the river on both plain jigs or tipping a jig with a minnow. Lake areas that are producing are around Grassy island,  Tin House Cove, Indian Prairie and the East side of the lake  around J&S.

A guided fishing trip would be a great Christmas present for an experienced angler or someone that has never fished before. We furnish all tackle and can teach you what you need to know to catch some bass on Lake Okeechobee. Gift certificates can be purchased by calling our home phone or contacting us through our website.

Cpt Mike Shellen
863-357-0892

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - November 10, 2011

 

November on Lake Okeechobee has always been a wonderful time to catch fish. The water level has risen to 13.75 feet and as the days have gotten shorter the water temperatures have cooled. There has long been speculation about what really triggers big bass to move toward their spawning grounds and start feeding like they have not eaten for months. When the water started rising quickly a few weeks ago we fully expected that the bass would start moving back further into the marsh, putting  us and the fish into a transition period of sorts. In actuality we are catching bass in the same areas as we were prior to the water rising 2 feet.

The great fishing is not limited to just bass. Specks, shell cracker and blue gill are also being taken in good numbers. Having been on the water nearly every day lately allows us to observe and learn exactly what is going on with each species of fish and whether they are being caught, and how.

Specks are showing up along the North Shore of Okeechobee, many are on the very outside edges of the cover, whether it be hydrilla or bulrush. Even more specks can be found just outside the edge of the visible cover, holding well off of the visible cover, tight to the bottom. If you can find areas where there is a new growth of eel grass, pepper grass or hydrilla that is not yet apparent to the naked eye, you just may hit the mother lode of fat, pre-spawn specks. The anglers that catch early season specks are always the same people, oh sure there are always new additions to the catching spree, but the same hardcore savvy anglers that I have seen for years are out there catching fish, and many times it is in the same general area as it has been for years. The more successful anglers are catching their specks on a small jig, colors vary greatly with each anglers preference. Pink, chartreuse, white, black red and any variation or mixtures of these colors have worked well for us. I am a firm believer that you will have greater success with a color you have confidence in, believing in a bait is crucial to finding success.

I could write 100 pages about the Okeechobee bass fishing and how great it is, and the reasons for the great fishing are many. Massive amounts of native vegetation are prevalent, the fish have had terrific spawns for the last 4 to 5 years, leading to huge numbers of small fish, that are now starting to become big fish. The water is gin clear along the whole North end the water quality is good. Add all of these factors together and it leads to a fishery that is second to none in the World.

Shiner fishing is as consistent right now as it ever gets, catches of 40 to 100 bass are common, it just depends how many shiners you want to buy. A shiner makes a one way trip on Okeechobee, we load them into the live well at the tackle shop prior to leaving each morning and no shiner makes the return trip. The bass are feeding heavily, storing up for the spawning ritual that will take place gradually over this winter season. There is not a better time to catch bass on Lake Okeechobee that during the fall feeding frenzy. Big bass in the 7 to 10 pound range are being caught regularly.

Cpt Mike Shellen
863-357-0892

 

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - October 12, 2011

 

A long hot summer has finally come to a close, the days are getting shorter and the water temperatures in Lake Okeechobee are dropping. The recent three day rain event dropped nearly 15 inches of water to areas North of the lake. River Ranch was so flooded that an airboat was the only viable mode of transportation. In answer to the very high water the SFWMD opened the spillways, letting the water flow Southward into Lake Okeechobee. The water has only been flowing for three days at the writing of this piece and the lake has already risen by 6 inches, it is estimated that the lake level could easily reach above the 12 foot mark. Between 12 to 13 foot is an ideal level for fishing lake Okeechobee, providing access to the marsh areas as well as the shoreline cover. Each Fall savvy anglers eagerly anticipate the first wave of large female Bass as they move along the shallow shorelines, where they gorge themselves. From mid-October thru November and into December Lake Okeechobee's bass go into feeding mode, chasing and eating shiners, shad and whatever other food morsels that are available.

Once the bass locate a food source they will hang out in that certain area as long a food is available, they may not feed every minute of each day, but they are never very far away from the food source. Last year we located a spot early in October that bass used all Winter and Spring, with fish coming and going according to the moon phases. We caught bass in this same area during pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn. It is not easy or normal to find a spot that will produce big bass and large numbers of bass as well, sometimes a little luck plays into it as well. We fished this productive spot many different ways and from many different angles. At times during the season the fish would be holding in one single piece of cover along the area, other days they would be scattered along the whole stretch. Don't misunderstand there were a few days when we could catch fish in our number one spot and we would have to move to another area to continue to catch fish. Each year as we have fished Lake Okeechobee we have learned something different about the lake, the lesson is not always immediate and mind numbing, many times it is very subtle and only becomes clear after much retrospect. Bass fishing is a wonderful sport and I can honestly say that I still get excited when a big bass comes to the boat. I have had clients tell me numerous times over the years that I was more excited about their big fish than they were. I guess that's what keeps me in the game.

Fall fishing on Lake Okeechobee is second to none, the sheer number of bass in the 7 to 12 pound range is incredible. Traffic is relatively low during the fall months, many of our visitors from the North aren't even here yet. The days are mild and the bass are biting, quite simply it just doesn't get much better in the bass fishing World.

The North Shore area of Lake Okeechobee is loaded with hydrilla and eel grass two great cover elements that big bass love to hang out in. From the East side of the lake around J&S fish camp all the way to Point of the Reef bass are already being caught in great numbers. It's only a matter of timing on the bass part, until they are triggered to start their fall feeding spree. It will happen suddenly and without fanfare, one day the bass will be of average size and the next day you might catch 4 or 5 bass over 7 pounds. The only way you can be part of the fun is to come visit us in Okeechobee. The town is small and quaint with many great places to stay and plenty of restaurants where you can get great food when you're done fishing.

Cpt. Mike Shellen
863-357-0892

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - Sept 18, 2011

 

As we move toward Fall the water temperatures will start to cool due to lower daytime temperatures. Already we are seeing water that is 2 to 3 degrees cooler than a month ago. The cooler water will trigger Lake Okeechobee's many bass to go on a feeding spree, gorging themselves on shad, shiners and whatever else they can track down. More tepid water temperatures are conducive to a bite that will last all day as opposed to an early morning frenzy, such as when it is scalding hot. Already in the last few weeks we have started to see the larger bass in the lake become more active and they are showing up in anglers daily catches. October can be one of the best times of the year to catch a true lunker bass and is also a great time to catch truly staggering numbers of fish per outing. During the Fall last year our guided bass fishing trips caught large bass almost every day, with numerous 5 fish catches that weighed over 35 pounds. Lake Okeechobee is in the middle of a bass population boom and each year there are more bass reaching trophy size, very few anglers take bass from the lake anymore leaving the brood stock to proliferate and build a fishery like no other. 


As the water level in Lake Okeechobee continues to rise. The canals surrounding the lake on the outside of the dike, particularly the rim canal on the East side of the lake is at a level where water is being allowed to flow from the canals into the lake, aiding in the rise of the lake. The East side of the lake around Port Mayaca has received enough rainfall that the St. Lucie canal has been running backwards, with water flowing into the lake instead of running from the lake toward the coast. Running water creates current situations where gamefish such as bass, blue gill and speckled perch can actively feed on minnows and other small food items swept along by the movement of the water. Moving water does have its drawbacks in some instances, black water as local anglers refer to it, is water that is very poorly oxygenated and in some instances is carrying suspended silt with it. The fish will not necessarily leave the area with the bad water, but it can definitely affect the bite. For months we have been catching bass at a rapid pace on the North Shore of Okeechobee, but after heavy rains last week the runoff from Fisheating Creek carried black water into our fishing hole and all but ended our bite, forcing us to move to cleaner water so we could keep catching bass. 


The more productive areas for bass fishing have been in the Kissimmee River and around King's Bar. Carolina rigs with plastic worms are drawing numerous strikes from small school sized bass although occasionally a five to 7 pound bass will be landed. There has been a shad hatch on the lake and schooling bass and other gamefish in large schools can be seen actively crashing the bait on top. Lipless crankbaits are a great search bait for schoolies, a chrome rattle trap with a blue or black back has long been a fish producer for us when bass are schooling on bait. Other areas where water flow can be found are Harney Pond, Indian Prairie canal and Henry Creek. Many times after heavy rain the water will flow out of the marsh on the West side of the lake through the open boat trails, setting up a feeding situation.


Many of the bass are still a long way from the reed or grass line. Hydrilla, Pepper and Eel grass are growing well out into the lake and the fish are holding there in large numbers. A few large bass have been showing up in our catches and are a good indicator that the big females will be moving very shallow to feed voraciously very shortly. Anglers are always asking me "when is the best time to fish on Lake Okeechobee"? I can only say that there is never a bad time to go fishing, especially on the best bass fishing lake in the U.S. The next bite you get may be the fish of your lifetime.


Cpt MIke Shellen

863-357-0892

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - Aug 16, 2011

 

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

 

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - July 15, 2011

 

Lake Okeechobee is rising at an agonizingly slow rate. The slow rise is actually favorable for the lake as opposed to a huge  inundation of water that brings in silt and pollutants, causing numerous problems within the sensitive ecosystem. The lakes overall health is good, although long term pollution problems still of great concern. The fish populations are huge, bass, blue gill and shell cracker abound in all areas of the lake.  Crappie (speckled perch) have made a great  recovery since the inception of the 10 inch minimum length law and should continue to get better as time goes on.

Bird and wildlife are everywhere you look, many people are amazed by the sheer numbers and types of bird life they see in a day. Throw in  manatees, alligators, otter and other marsh and lake dwelling creatures and you have the making of the greatest eco-tour of all times.

Bass fishing of course is the headliner on Lake Okeechobee and has been for many years. Any bass angler worth his salt has either fished Okeechobee or has it on his bucket list. The past year has been one of the most productive and enjoyable times I personally have ever spent on the lake, and it all ties in with the great fishing. Simply put, when anglers of any skill level are able to have fun catching large numbers of their favorite fish and at the same time do it in one of the most unique and diverse ecosystems in the World it is a great situation. To share the skills honed over years of fishing with others is only a small part, but add in sharing the wondrous beauty of Lake Okeechobee and it can open someone's eyes to something totally new and exciting.

The Kissimmee River has been a fish factory for many anglers lately, providing big numbers of bass as well as a shot at a big fish too. Carolina rigged plastics and crank baits are two of the better methods being used at this time. Schooling bass can be found in areas of moving water chasing and eating wild shiners, shad and minnows. A chrome with black back rattle trap will entice many bites from the schoolies, making a long cast to the fish will help to avoid spooking them and ending the feeding frenzy.


The North Shore from King's Bar to Indian Prairie is loaded with bass, many of the local canals are running, and moving water brings food with it, which in turn get the fish congregated in certain areas  making them easier to find and catch. Whether you want to catch a 100 bass in a day or just have a great time seeing the sites, Okeechobee is in top form.

Cpt Mike Shellen
863-357-0892

 

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - June 14, 2011

 

Bass fishing on Lake Okeechobee is just as remarkable as it has been for the last two years, this past week guided trips averaged around 75 bass per outing. Artificial baits are providing fishermen with as much action as they want. Top water baits fished close to cover in the early morning under low light conditions are providing great action. Old school rubber worms will draw strikes from the myriad of small year class sized fish that populate the lake like never before. If you have an artificial bait that you love to catch bass on, now is the time to put it into action on the lake.  Each morning we start out with top water baits and use them until the bass lets us know they are no longer going to eat them. Once the sun gets well into the sky we are changing over to slower moving , yet subtle baits like a fluke,  fished with very little if any weight. The subtle fall of a fluke is irresistible to a bass and we are catching fish daily on them, alternating between many different colors and color variations. On days when they don't seem to want the fluke we are still catching fish on a skinny dipper fished slowly thru the heavy cover areas. When all else fails we are going to an rubber worm dragged slowly across the bottom, there is a reason the rubber worm has been around so long, it works!

The full moon periods are providing non-stop pan fish catches, blue gill and shell cracker are hanging around in the ultra shallow water, whether they are on spawning beds or holding near canal bank break lines. Crickets, grass shrimp and red worms will work, with one of the baits usually outperforming the others at any given time, so try them all.
   
If you read the newspaper or watch Television you  know by now that Lake Okeechobee is very low. What has not been  told and understood is that the giant lake still offers fishing opportunities that exceed all other fisheries in every respect. Guided trips are still fishing in the lake every day,  thirty years of experience helps us to navigate the low water safely and also to locate great numbers of fish of all species. The dynamics of fish behavior are the same, fish like access to deeper water, especially large bass. Deep water is a relative term on the lake, although the canals that surround the lake offer water depths to 15 feet or more in spots, the main lake portion of Okeechobee does not offer areas of great depth change. Even at a normal level the water may be three feet deep on the edge of the grass line and a mile further offshore only reach a depth of 4 feet. Lake Okeechobee resembles a huge shallow saucer that is home to more fish and bird life than anywhere on earth.
   

People that know me understand that I have what can only be called a  "maniacal love" for the lake and what it represents to our community. It is the premier fishery in the United States and maybe the World, at least for large-mouth bass. On the other hand the bird life that exists on Lake Okeechobee is unparalleled. Healthy water environments attract bird life like a magnet. To truly be a bird paradise several factors have to be present, food, nesting areas and clean water. If the birds have those basics they will breed and stay around a lake forever. At this time Lake Okeechobee is home to what can only be called the World's largest aviary, with numerous species of birds using the lakes assets to make their lives and ours more enjoyable.

 

Kelly Cox & Terry Wilson, on a recent outing w/ Cpt. Shellen



cpt Mike Shellen
Shellen guide service
863-357-0892

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - April 12, 2011

 

Bass fishing on the North end of the Lake Okeechobee has been as steady and as predictable as we've ever seen. Artificial baits are accounting for large numbers of bass daily. Top water baits, flukes, skinny dippers and senkos, have been working daily. Most days artificial baits will  outperform live bait, especially for numbers, shiners however do account for more of the big bass that are caught than artificials. We have fished areas in the past week that we have not fished this year and regardless of where we stop we are catching bass. Catch rates have been nothing short of spectacular with a high of 120 bass and the average around 50 bass per trip. There is not a bass fishery around the US that can match lake Okeechobee at the present time. If you have a favorite bait that you like to catch bass on bring it with you and I bet you will catch fish on it.

The winter tourism season around South Florida and more particularly Lake Okeechobee is winding down, but the terrific fishing on the big lake is showing no signs of letting up. The lake is at a level presently that urges fish to move toward the outside edges of the marsh where they can find deeper water.  

During April the local canal banks and the shallow edges of the lake are teeming with several different species of  fish that are searching for spawning grounds. While most of the bass have  completed spawning and are now feeding heavily, pan fish such as blue gill are just getting started. Shell Cracker made a brief appearance around the full moon in March but another wave will spawn around the full moon in April. There are many different ways to catch these great eating pan fish. A traditional light weight spinning rod and with  4 to 8 lb test works well for casting to spawning beds or fish that are spooky. Another method preferred by many anglers is the use of an old school type cane pole, which allows an angler to get closer to the fish and is more efficient when the fish are biting quickly, simply hoist the fish into the boat, rebait your hook and repeat the process. Other anglers use a long limber rod and cast a tiny jig head, which can be sweetened with any number of live baits. Each of these methods have merit and produce fish. Preferred live baits for pan fish are grass shrimp, crickets and red worms, with grass shrimp being the best.

It's hard to describe to someone that has not seen Okeechobee before how incredibly amazing the health of the lake's environment is at this time. Aside from the terrific fishing the vast amount of bird life is stunning. We have been watching a huge flock of white pelicans assemble in the marsh this week as they ready for their long journey North, at this time we estimate that there are at least 200 to 300 birds flocked together feeding and storing energy for the long flight. Ducks too are abundant, hundreds of them can be seen feeding and flying about the marsh feeding on the hydrilla. The lake is teeming with life and must be seen in person to begin to understand the gravity of its importance to  South Florida's tourism industry.

Cpt Mike Shellen

 

 

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - March 7th, 2011

 

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 to 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

863-357-0892  

 

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - February 8th, 2011

 

The recent FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee set the lake on fire. A total of 160 pro anglers from all parts of the world ventured out into the lake on Thursday to test their skills against the Big "O". During practice many anglers spoke of seeing small buck bass and a few females roaming the shallows, but Thursday morning was different, a wave of large female bass had moved into the shallows and were occupying beds in all areas of the lake. Pro Angler Chad Prough led the tournament for the first three days boosted by the strength of a day one five fish limit weighing nearly 35 pounds. Overall there were many 30 pounds plus limits brought to the scales, but as is usually the case consistency ultimately reigned. Brandon McMillan from Belle Glade fishing in his first FLW Tour event was the most consistent angler in the field bringing 5 bass limits to the scale each of the four days that weighed between 25 to 28 pounds. In winning the tour event Brandon also became the first angler in FLW history to top the 100 pound mark, lugging just over 106 pounds to the scale, that's better than a five pound average per fish.

Weigh in each day turned into a testimonial for Lake Okeechobee, with anglers singing the praises of the lake and its massive population of big bass. Pro's and co-anglers alike shared stories of catching more than 100 fish per day. The different styles and kinds  of baits were many, with pitching & flipping scoring many of the larger fish. A Gambler big E-Z was mentioned by many anglers as was the skinny dipper. Anglers were scattered all over the lake commenting about finding bass everywhere they fished.

Local anglers too are finding great success even though there seems to be traffic everywhere. Flukes, trick worms, senko's, spinner baits and flipping baits are all drawing strikes. Top water baits are working in the skinny water, when worked over the top of the bass a vicious response can be drawn. As this wave of bass concludes spawning the outside edges of the grass lines will continue to get better with bass looking for a meal after expending great energy spawning.

Shiner fishing has been tremendous with large numbers of bass, and big bass falling prey to wild live shiners daily. With warm and stable weather the extended fishing forecast looks very bright.

If the warm weather and water temperatures continue the full moon on the 18th could actually spur spawning action by blue gill and later possible shell cracker. These two pan fish are prized by those that love a good fish fry and can be caught in huge numbers when they move into the shallow water to spawn.

Lake Okeechobee is smack dab in the middle of one of the best periods for bass fishing it has ever seen. Many reasons contribute to great fishing, one of the major reasons Okeechobee is so good right now is the 18 inch slot limit that gives small bass a chance to reach trophy size without being harvested.  Let's hope them FWC has the common sense to leave the slot in place.

Cpt Mike Shellen
863-357-0892

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - January 10th, 2011

 

Lake Okeechobee welcomed the New Year with fireworks.  It was not an aerial display as is typical most places, instead it was a display of angling fireworks not seen on Lake Okeechobee for some time in a major event. The FLW Everstart Eastern Series season opening tournament was held out of Scott Driver park on the North end of the lake with 164 professional anglers vying for bass fishing glory and $35000 cash. On day one Joey Thigpen from St. Johns Fl. brought a five bass limit to the scale that weighed 34 lbs 8 oz, his huge catch was anchored by a giant 9 lb 11 oz. Ultimately Brandon Medlock from Lake Placid won the 3 day event with just over 64 lbs of bass. The weather got progressively worse for the anglers as the days wore on, high winds and cooling water leading to smaller stringers the final two days of the event. Flipping and pitching were the ongoing theme for success with anglers finding spawning bass in skinny water in the proximity of heavy cover.

The North Shore area is yielding large bass to anglers adept at sight fishing, flipping and or pitching. Many of the bass moved well back into the marshy areas under matted vegetation when the water got cold. Once the water warmed the fish moved directly into a spawning mode. Heavy braided line is required to wrestle large fish from the tangled jungle of marsh vegetation. A  Heavy weight is needed to punch thru the thick mats, up to 1 oz in some instance. A black & blue jig with a chunk trailer or a paca craw are favorites.  As the fish leave the beds they are very hungry and will once again be roaming about looking for feeding opportunities. The skinny dipper, spinner baits and lipless crank baits will all come into play.

The spawn sometimes puts a momentary lull on the shiner fishing bite, but once completed the fish will avidly gulp shiners  making for some great catching opportunities.  It appears that we have gone thru a major spawn earlier than normal and may bode well for some great bass fishing in the upcoming months. It's all about the water temperature and stable weather in January, when we get stable periods the fishing is good. There have been two fish in the 11 pound plus range caught in the last month, one we caught on a  shiner, the other fell prey to a spinner bait.  Okeechobee is flexing its fishing muscles, it should be very interesting to see how the rest of the winter and spring play out.
Cpt Mike Shellen
863-357-0892 

2010 Captain Mike Shellen fishing Reports

2009 Captain Mike Shellen fishing Reports

 2008 Captain Mike Shellen fishing Reports

May to December, 2007 - Captain Mike Shellen fishing Reports

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 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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