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 20, 2012

 

                   Christmas Bass Fishing


Due in part to the mild weather and warm water, the Fall bass fishing on Lake Okeechobee has been spectacular. There are many factors involved, one being the bass population of the lake is at a level not seen for many years. The good fishing is contingent upon the health of the lake as well. Native vegetation can be found in traditional areas where it has not been seen in years, prior to the rejuvenation that has taken place over the last 5 to 7 years. The catch rates for anglers has continued to impress throughout the fall months, as we approach the New Year the future looks bright. Large numbers of bass are being caught, with big Bass being caught regularly, particularly by the guides and their clients using  wild shiners as bait.


Lake Okeechobee's massive size can be quite daunting to even an experienced angler/boater. When first setting eyes on the lake nearly everyone makes the same comment, "everywhere I look appears to be a great fishing spot". That quote is true to a certain extent as fish frequent every area of the lake. However the areas where a fishermen can catch large numbers of bass are very "area specific" once located though an angler can experience the best fishing/catching of his or her life. Being able to read the cover is critical to the process, and is something learned with time and experience.


During the fall and winter months the prevalent wind is from the North to Northeast which makes the Northern end of the lake fishing friendly. Areas to fish during this time of year are, Grassy Island and  further along the East side of the lake to the J&S Lock area. The main lakeside of Kings bar is a good spot when the winds are NNE,  as is the entire shore from the pole at Pierce canal, traveling West  to Harney Pond. Horse Island, Worm Cove and Indian Prairie are all great fishing areas between these two points.


Techniques being used at this time are varied, as nearly all anglers have a style of fishing they prefer. Fast moving baits such as a rattle trap are putting numbers of small bass in the boat especially in areas where they can be found schooling. Flipping or pitching with a creature style bait or a jig are responsible for more big bass at this time of year than any other artificial bait. Senkos and other plastics will draw strikes from small bass as will the old school standby, the rubber worm.


During the winter months no other bait accounts for the catching of more bass and big Bass than a wild golden shiner. The  shiner fishing technique is a little different than you may be used to and there are many subtleties to refining your presentation even with live bait. Experienced anglers or newcomers to the sport of fishing find great fun in shiner fishing. Aside from the fast action, the possibility of catching a giant bass is always present.


Cpt mike shellen
863-357-0892

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - December 1, 2012

 

November on Lake Okeechobee was a wonderful time for fishing, with mild weather and great catching. The water level has risen to 15.75 feet thanks to hurricane Isaac and normal summer rains. Each Fall as the days  get shorter the water temperatures get cooler. There is much speculation about what really triggers big bass to move toward their spawning grounds and start feeding like they have not eaten for months. But every year  in late Oct. or early Nov. the large female Bass suddenly make an appearance. When the water level started going up some anglers 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 still catching bass in the same areas as we were prior to the water rising nearly 3 feet.


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


Specks are showing up along the North Shore of Okeechobee, many are on the very outside edges of the cover, such as hydrilla or Kissimmee grass. At this time a greater amount of specks can be found just outside the edge of the  cover, holding well off of the visible cover, and 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 the savvy veterans, there are always new additions to the catching spree, but the same learned anglers that I have seen for years are out there catching fish, and many times it is in the same general 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 proven effective. I am a firm believer that you will have greater success with a color you have confidence in, believing in your bait choice is crucial to your success.


It's quite easy to ramble on about  Okeechobee's  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, and the water quality is good. Add all of these factors together and it leads to a fishery that is second to none.


Shiner fishing is as consistent right now as it ever gets, catches of 30 to 50 bass are common, it is all dependent on how many shiners you want to buy. For a live wild shiner once they are loaded into the live well at the tackle shop it's a one way trip, shiners rarely make the return trip back to the shop.

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 than during the fall feeding frenzy. With big bass in the 7 to 10 pound range being caught with regularity on guided shiner trips.

Cpt Mike Shellen
863-357-0892

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - September 15th, 2012

 

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 - August 14th, 2012

 

The great fishing continues on Lake Okeechobee, the big lake has been on an upward swing for several years now and just keeps getting better. Last year we caught record numbers of big bass as well as huge daily catch numbers. The lake level has not had highs above 14 feet for several years now and each winter we have seen low levels around 11 feet or lower. The somewhat stable low water periods have led to numerous great spawns that have exploded the fish populations of every species in the lake.


In the past we have experienced many great years of pan fishing, this year has provided some of the best summertime catches of shell cracker I can ever remember. Of course the big blue gill are caught in the same areas as the shell cracker, but anyone that has eaten freshly caught and fried shell cracker filets knows exactly what I am alluding  to. The tremendous run of shell cracker started on the full moon in April and has continued on each moon phase up through August. How long it can and will continue remains to be seen. With the water level in the 11 to 12 foot range the pan fish stayed mostly to the outside edges of the vegetation, some even fanning spawning beds well out into the lake, where the water is still only 2 to 3 feet. The primary baits have been grass shrimp, red worms and crickets, many anglers target and catch large numbers of bluegill on a fly rod and popping bug when they are in such shallow water.
Bass fishing tournament anglers have found that it takes 5 bass that weigh 25 to 30 pounds to win a tournament on the lake.  The numbers of quality sized bass in the 5 to 10 pound range in the lake right now are staggering, and these bass are growing each season getting bigger and fatter.


During the summer months we try to get onto the water before sunup, if possible, in order to take advantage of schooling action that takes place along the outside grass lines. Bass can be seen and heard blasting bait fish such as shad and shiners in the cover and sometimes well out into the lake as well. When they are schooling on bait a spinner bait tossed well back into the grass and worked toward the outside edge can present heart stopping action. Some morning we may catch 8 to 12 bass and the action ends quickly, other days we catch 35 to 40 in the first couple of hours. The catching can end in a second and the rhymes or reason alludes me, but the sun rising higher into the sky is certainly one reason. Once they quit eating the spinner bait we switch to soft plastics, flukes, speed worms and senkos being a key part of our arsenal. Those anglers that want to target only large bass very often will opt to flip and pitch matted vegetation or thick clumps of bulrush with a creature style bait. There are many styles, configurations and colors of creature style baits, some use a jig with a trailer others uses a punch skirt and creature baits. Personal preference and confidence in your choice makes a world of difference. But don't be afraid to climb out of your comfort level and try something new, there are new baits of all kinds hitting the market every day, some work well, some not so much.

Cpt Michael Shellen
863-357-0892

 

 

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - May 10th, 2012

 

One of the most asked questions received of a fishing guide is, when is the best time to fish Lake Okeechobee?  The answer most often is that there is never a bad time to fish Lake Okeechobee, some days are just better than others. The big lake has a tremendous amount of bass and you can always find fish that are willing to bite. Pinpointing a single day is nearly impossible. Fishing is about having  fun and Lake Okeechobee has much to offer, the bird-life on the lake is incredible, not to mention alligators, manatees and other wildlife.  There are so many things to see sometimes it is hard to concentrate on just fishing.


If you are a pan fish angler that likes to catch blue gill or shell cracker, then Spring and Summer are your prime time for catching. Pan fish can be caught most days, but the full moon periods are when pan fish can be found in large schools near their spawning areas. The fact that they are gathered together in large numbers in a specific an area makes catching them easier. Pan fishing is great for beginning anglers that may want to learn some angling basics and enjoy some fast action. As table fare blue gill or shell cracker freshly filleted and fried are delicious.
The water temperature in the lake is near 80 degrees, which means that the bass are feeding daily.  The North end of the lake has a many different areas that are holding large schools of fish. The outside vegetation lines around Buckhead Ridge and  Grassy Island are holding large numbers of small fish. If you can find a mixture of native vegetation odds are it will be holding bass. Top water baits, flukes, lipless crankbaits, swim baits, and flipping or pitching type plastics are all drawing strikes. There are a lot of different ways to entice fish to bite, don't get stuck in a rut and use the same thing all of the time, try to become more adept at using other methods that you are not necessarily in your comfort zone, it will make you a better angler.

While many anglers are fishing the outside edges of the lake, others are delving behind the first line of grass and finding openings in the grass where fish are holding too. Many times we have found a mother lode of pan fish while we were bass fishing in these extreme skinny water areas. We simply mark the mark the spot on our GPS and return later to harvest the fish, or share the info with others so that they may go in and catch them.

The average catch rates for shiner fishing trips have been impressive, 40 to 60 fish can be caught in a morning, when they are biting. Many anglers have become so spoiled by the incredible numbers of fish they have been catching, that a morning catch of 15 to 30 fish leaves them disappointed.  Big bass are still in the mix, normal size bass may bite where you are fishing everyday for a week, and then the next time the spot is visited big bass seem to have taken over, only to revert to average fish again the next day. Go figure!  

 

Cpt Mike Shellen
863-357-0892   

 

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - March 4th, 2012

 

The cold front that moved through this weekend may slow fishing for a few days. The larger issue is did the wind muddy the water in your favorite fishing area? Winds up to 35mph scoured the lake Sunday, making fishing all but impossible and a bit unsafe too.  


The full moon phase is approaching and from the number of shell cracker and blue gill we are seeing in the marsh areas a good pan fish bite is imminent. It is anyone's guess as to how the pan fish will react to the cold snap, the water was in the mid 70's prior to the cold and should not drop too much if the long range weather forecast are correct. Red worms, grass shrimp and crickets will all work to entice shell cracker, with red worms and grass shrimp being the better producers. Blue gill will eat any of the three baits mentioned, with one always out producing the others. Grass shrimp can be counted on in almost all situations to produce bites, every fish in the lake is used to munching on grass shrimp so it is my favorite pick.


Bass fishing with artificial baits has been terrific this past week, with spinner baits, speed worms, flukes and many other baits producing large numbers of strikes. An early morning top water bite is possible too, pop'rs or walking style baits will produce vicious  strikes. The full moon this week should move those female bass that have not yet spawned onto the beds, if you catch a fish off of a bed, return her quickly so that she can continue spawning. The future of our fishery is dependent upon our spawns, even one bad spawn can lead to a decline in the quality of fishing.


Cpt Mike Shellen
863-357-0892

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - February 26th, 2012

 

The incredibly warm Winter continues in Okeechobee, driving water temperatures into the mid-seventies. The lake level is presently about 9 inches higher than at this time last year. The lake very close to going under the 13 ft mark, and it is still many days until the rainy season arrives. Tournaments are being held all around the lake, and the success of these are fueling more and more traffic for the lake. The Bass master Elite Series will be the next major tournament on the lake, with the World's number 1 bass fishermen, Kevin Van Dam returning to fish Okeechobee once again. The pro's are going to find Okeechobee's bass in post-spawn mode for the most part, which should provide for interesting fishing patterns.

 

Local anglers are still enjoying good success with artificial baits of all types providing bites. Top water, spinner baits, speed worms, flukes and flipping and pitching baits are all providing bites.


We should be very close to finding shell cracker spawning in the shallow water areas. I talked to one seasoned angler that reported catching a limit of shell cracker on the far outside edges of cover, the fish are in pre-spawn mode. With the shell cracker, blue gill will not be far behind. It's a great time of year to fish Okeechobee. Access to all species of fish in the lake is readily available to those willing to put their time in to locate the fish. Once you find them, catching them is the easy part.

 

Grassy Island, the East wall of the lake and the North Shore, including the shoal are all going to produce great fishing this spring, and it feels like Spring now.

Cpt Mike Shellen
863-357-0892

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - February 14th, 2012

 

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 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.


Shiner fishing on Lake Okeechobee  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.  Average daily catch rates for the last few week are impressive, 50 to 60 fish days are more the norm than the exception. Lake Okeechobee is fulfilling its potential  and then some for anglers looking for fast and furious catching action.  
If the warm weather and water temperatures continue the new moon and the full moon  could spur spawning action by bass, blue gill and later possibly shell cracker. The 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.


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.


Spend some time on around Lake Okeechobee whether it's fishing, sight-seeing or even bird watching, it's all available and waiting for you. We have the best  fishing guides on the lake here in the city of Okeechobee, not to mention the nicest most modern airboats to take you on a thrilling ride through Okeechobee's massive expanse of marshland. If you're looking for a place to spend a few nights we have modern Inns or old school fish camps, you decide. When it comes to food you can get breakfast at 5am before your day of adventure or dine on steak,  barbecue or fish once the sun sets and you finally slow down. We are more than just a cow town, although the gentlemanly manners of the local ranchers influence a  life style you can't help but enjoy. Down home work ethic and friendly folks, maybe more than a destination, a place to settle for a great life.


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.  

Cpt Mike Shellen
863-357-0892

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - January 8, 2012

 

Cold weather pretty much shut bass fishing down for a few days. Two days this week there were very few if any cars at Okeetantie and Scott Driver ramps. The water prior to the cold front was 70 degrees. Saturday morning the water temperatures was 56 degrees in some area in the lake, but did warm up to near 60. The bass are starting to bite again as the weather has warmed up over the weekend, Sunday afternoon the water temps had climbed to 66 degrees. With the full moon and the warmer water conditions we can expect to see some very large bass be caught this week, many of them will fall prey to a wild shiner and some will be caught by savvy anglers willing to put in their time and effort with an artificial bait.

Flipping and or pitching baits will work around reed clumps and in the heavy cover areas where many of the fish took refuge during the cold weather. There are a lot of beds showing up in the shallow water areas where bass are moving in to spawn.

Speck fishing has been very good with anglers catching limits in the Kissimmee River and the lake. Anglers in the river are either anchoring and using minnows under a small bobber or trolling, with either a minnow or a small jig.    

Cpt Mike Shellen
863-357-0892

2011 Captain Mike Shellen fishing Reports

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

  April 2007 Captain Mike Shellen fishing Reports.  
  Past 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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