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 - Januuary, 2015  

wpe1.jpg (89758 bytes) Fishing is a family affair for the Appel family from Wi. Tim & Wendy and their children 17 yr old Jada and 5 yr old Remington, that's  Tim with the 10.5 lb bass

In spite of a very high water level which is a threat to the entire lake ecosystem, the Big "O" is still churning out large catches of bass daily. High water periods are tolerable around Lake Okeechobee, but only briefly. When the water is allowed to stay at a higher than normal level for extended periods of time it puts the native vegetation, primarily Kissimmee Grass at great peril. Kissimmee Grass made a tremendous comeback during the extreme low water periods that occurred 7 or 8 years ago, but is gradually disappearing in many spots around the outer band of the lake due to high water. Were the water allowed to travel South as it is meant to, it would not be a problem. But since the COE deems it necessary for the overage of water in the lake to be released into the Caloosahatchee river, the level of the lake can't be lowered efficiently enough to allow the lake and it's vegetation to prosper and continue to grow. A simple spillway in the South end would solve the problem for both coasts and the health of the premiere bass fishery in the U.S. 

Those anglers using wild shiners are catching big numbers of bass, as are some of the more proficient artificial bait anglers. The number of trophy sized fish in the 7 to 10 pound range being caught is much higher for live bait anglers using wild shiners and is on par with the last 4 to 5 years. Warm stable weather has allowed the water temperatures to stay in the 60's to low 70's which has kept the fish feeding daily. There have been a few days when the bite has been slower but overall it has been a very productive Winter up to this date. 

Anglers unfamiliar with shiner fishing are sometimes convinced that using live bait other than live wild golden shiners is effective. It is true that Pit shiners or domestic shiners will catch fish, but nowhere near as successfully as wild shiners. If you are going to spend your time and money shiner fishing make sure that your shiners are wild shiners. They have an innate sense of fear when around bass, that trigger reactionary strikes from fish like nothing you have seen before, whereas domestic or pit shiners do not possess that fear factor and are not nearly as hearty or lively. Live wild shiners can be purchased from numerous places around the North end of the lake for 16 to 17 dollars per dozen. 

The hot spots around the lake at this time are many, The outside edges of grassy island are producing bass on senkos and chatter baits, Tin House cove is holding fish both inside the grass line and on the outside edges, a top water bait worked slowly around the cover edges will draw strikes early. Horse Island is holding fish in and around the trails that cut through the Kissimmee Grass making it a productive area to fish when the wind is too strong to fish the outside edge. The Harney Pond area is holding loads of bass in the thick cover areas, eel grass and pepper grass abound in this area, look for spots where several kinds of native cover merge often it will create a bass hot spot. During this time of year a black 10 inch worm or a black/blue senko worked slowly through the cover will get you all the bites you can stand, patience and determination are key.

Michael Shellen


Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - December, 2014


The water level in Lake Okeechobee is very high, the present 15.67 ft level is 12 to 13 inches higher than on this date day last year. The high water period seems to have affected the timing of the late fall bass bite that normally occurs in mid to late October and continues throughout the fall and winter seasons. The large trophy size bass did not show up in daily catches of local guides and other anglers until late November. As we approached the full moon this past week the large bass made their presence known, when anglers caught bass to 9lb 8oz along with numerous other fish in the 7 to 8 pound class. Catch rates rose dramatically as the full moon approached, with 40 to 60 bass per day being caught in addition to the trophy size bass. Shiners are the bait of choice for the bass that have just moved into the shallow grass lines as they feed heavily on shad and shiner during this pre-spawn period. Several of the bass caught this past week were very fat and their bellies were swollen with roe, whether they went ahead and completed spawning is anyone's guess. In addition to largemouth there were a number of 4 to 5 lb Sunshine bass caught on shiners too, these fish are great table fare although somewhat difficult to hook due to the size of their mouth which is very small in relation to a largemouth, making the large wild shiners we use to catch largemouth difficult for them to inhale quickly. Patience is key if you suspect that a Sunshine is attempting to eat your bait, they have a tricky way of grasping and then swimming toward the open water as they attempt to turn and swallow a shiner. 

Speckled perch are being caught lake wide . Anglers that traditionally use minnow are primarily targeting specks in open water areas like the Kissimmee River or canals such as Indian Prairie, Government cut or J&S canal. several anglers can be seen well out into the lake in open water, on a line between Taylor Creek and the mouth of the Kissimmee River. Anglers that prefer to jig with tiny artificial jigs are finding specks scattered in the grassy semi-heavy cover areas of the lake, Tin House Cove, Buckhead Ridge and Kings bar are good areas that are relatively near the ramp at Okeetantie park and easily accessible. Jig color selections vary greatly, peanut butter is a popular color, as are the more frequently heard of, chartreuse, white, pink and other combinations of the aforementioned colors. As with all fishing, confidence in your bait selection is essential, it enables one to be more efficient and exhibit patience if the fish are not responding. There are anglers that will change colors every five minutes if they are not getting responses from the fish while other fishermen stick to the tried and true colors and methods knowing that eventually they will locate fish.

The Big "O" has always had a reputation as a great waterfowl lake, the past several years we have seen increases in the numbers of new hunters venturing deep into the marsh areas to shoot ducks. The North and West side of the lake with its wide swath of marsh grasses is a very popular area. Hunters are scattered all around the lake, from Grassy Island where they can launch very near at lock 7, all the way West to the Monkey Box and the Moore Haven marsh areas, success stories vary, with experience and timing being a factor. Many of the ducks after being shot at several times can be found in the open lake areas mixed in with the thousands of coots that are feeding heavily on hydrilla that has topped out. 

Mike Shellen



Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - Nov 25, 2014

The water level in Lake Okeechobee is 6 to 7 inches higher than at this time last year, around 15.6 ft. The lack of storms/hurricanes this summer enabled the native vegetation to thrive in spite of the relatively high water. The water depth on the outside grass lines varies from 6 to 8 feet deep in most areas, and the quantity of native grasses such as pepper grass, eel grass, spike rush and Kissimmee grass are flourishing. With generally good water quality in the littoral zones of the lake the bass population may be at an all time high. 

Big bass are in the mix with Artificial bait anglers are finding bass willing to rise to the top and strike on top water offerings. Popping frogs and other baitfish imitating lures were the choice of those that had the best success this past week. Jigs and other flipping and pitching baits are providing big bites too, try a swim jig or a flipping jig tipped with a blue/black craw imitating basically a system for dissecting the vegetative cover one piece at a time. Although known for producing big bass, you will catch fish your bait drops nearly straight down into an area and is allowed to sit or (soak) as seasoned anglers call it for longer periods of time. There are times when the fish will inhale the bait as it crashes into their environment, but more often than not the fish will inspect the bait well before eating it. Heavy braided line and a very strong rod are necessary to wrestle the fish from the thick gnarly cover once you have hooked them.

The water temperatures in the lake have dropped considerably in the past month with temps in the high 60's to low 70's being the norm. At these water temps the fish are quite active and can be found biting somewhere in the lake throughout the entire day. Specks are starting to show up in greater numbers each week, but also are in direct proportion to the number of anglers pursuing them. Nighttime anglers will fare the best with small jigs and minnows fished in the Kissimmee River. Fish are being caught well out of the mouth of the river as they move from the lake toward the river and or shoreline grasses to prepare to spawn.

Everyone is looking for the ideal time to catch fish, particularly big bass, October through May would be that time. As far as the best bait to use for those big bass, nothing outperforms a live wild shiner. In addition to catching fish the sheer beauty of Lake Okeechobee is a sight everyone should experience. There is nothing like a sunrise on Lake Okeechobee, the majestic beauty of the huge lake awakening is awe inspiring.

cpt mike shellen



Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - October 20, 2014    Dan wall day 2sm.JPG (245466 bytes)Click on Photo


The water in Lake Okeechobee is cooling nearly 10 degrees in the past month, as the water level has steadily risen to 15.6 ft. The hours of daylight for fishing are getting shorter each day as we approach fall. A percentage of Okeechobee's bass relate heavily to the open lake once they are done spawning, while others never leave the littoral zones and the generous cover they provide. All of the above are factors in the movement of Okeechobee's huge bass population as they move toward the shallow shoreline cover, where they are in pre-spawn mode, feeding voraciously. Once the bass contact shoreline cover they will follow it until they find a food source such as shiner or shad. Many times an area where 3 to 5 different kinds of native vegetation merge will create a hotspot, where wave after wave of bass will move in and feed heavily while in their pre-spawn mode. This process will happen again and again throughout the fall, winter and spring, dependent on the water temperature and moon cycles.

Mid-October, November and December are often the time of year when the single largest bass of the year are caught, not to mention the large number of bass caught per trip. It's prime time to fish with live wild golden shiners. The sheer excitement of watching your bait as a hungry bass chases your shiner before inhaling it is unmatched, the energy generated by the strike of a bass on a wild shiner is thrilling. Bass are incredibly perceptive and are aware of what's happening in their environment so it makes sense that a wild shiner which is indigenous to the Okeechobee lake's environment, is the preferred food of bass, particularly big bass! 

Artificial bait anglers are finding bass using spinner baits, swim jigs, and flipping jigs with a creature bait trailer. Bass can be caught daily on these artificial offerings, however it is easier to feed the fish, than to fool the fish. Which makes a live shiner swimming under a cork, the perfect combination. Bass can still be found roaming the outer edges of Kissimmee Grass chasing shad/shiners during the early morning hours. With the water level edging higher there will be a number of bass that will move further into the marshy areas of the lake, which can present an obstacle to finding bass quickly.

Pan fishing, whether for specks or blue gill is just okay, but with the arrival of cooler water the bite will pick up. Night anglers will be the first to find specks, and more than likely it will be in the Kissimmee River, jigs and minnows both will work, however one will always outperform the other, so switch your tactics for optimum catching.

cpt mike shellen

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - July 20, 2014


Lake Okeechobee continues to churn out great catches of bass, for those anglers that get on the water at first light. The first several hours of each morning is a golden time, bass are actively chasing baitfish in and around the Kissimmee grass exploding on the bait pods that are attempting to feed, and hide in the thick cover. A shad look alike Top water bait worked tight to the cover will draw vicious strikes from bass as they aggressively attack anything they perceive as part of the food chain. 

Spinner baits thrown deep into the grass on heavy braided line are the only bait you may need on some morning, particularly if there is a little cloud cover. Gold blades, silver blades or copper blades they all have a place and time for catching bass, The skirt colors we use vary from white, white/blue, white/chartreuse, gold and even solid black, they all work. Depending on the thickness of the grass a more heavily weighted bait may be necessary in order to get the bait to sink into the grass, 3/8 oz to 1/2 oz will handle most situations.

There are many anglers that love fishing with plastics, rubber worms, etc. The sheer numbers types and styles of plastics these days is staggering. Tackle shops can't begin to carry all of the variations of colors/styles that are available from a myriad of different companies. Yet many anglers get stuck fishing the same color or type of worm that worked for them before. I myself was guilty of this until a customer from the frozen North pulls out an obscure piece of plastic and proceeds to catch bass after bass, putting a whipping on the other non-believing anglers in the boat. It is very important to have confidence in whatever bait you are using, fishing it without purpose and confidence does not work. 

It can be difficult to target exactly what the bass are eating at this time, many times though just being aware of what the fish are eating right now can lead you in a direction that will reward your efforts with great catches of bass. There are numerous tackle shops around the lake and the guys behind the counter receive a lot of input into what is working and what areas are putting out bass, ask some simple questions and the results may surprise you. It's very difficult these days to keep your fishing both simple and productive, at times going back to square one can be all that is needed to get you mojo going.

cpt mike shellen



Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - June 20, 2014


Some of the best bass fishing of the year occurs every summer when there are few people aside from locals around to enjoy it. Bass fishing in the summer is a little different, we get on the water well before light and make our way to our favorite fishing spot , attempting to arrive when it's just cracking light. The lake level is around 12.40 feet, a level that forces the bass and the baitfish toward the Kissimmee grass lines that form the outer lake edges on the North end of Okeechobee. Due to the huge numbers of shad, shiners and other baitfish that have been forced toward the outside edge by the low water, we attempt to "match the hatch" with a double willow leaf spinner bait fitted with chrome blades and a white skirt. This bait fish imitating bait will draw vicious strikes from bass that are roaming around in the Kissimmee grass and the outer edges of the cover. 

On those mornings when all conditions are perfect you can catch 30 to 40 fish in the first few hours of light on that spinner bait, although varying blade sizes, skirt colors and trailers may be necessary. Once the early bite wanes we adjust by changing over to an old school texas rig worm, which is as basic as it gets, call it bass fishing 101. Once rigged toss the Texas rigged worm ( black /blue) into the grass edge and slowly work it through the grass letting it sink into holes around the edges or holes in the cover and hang on! This incredible fun usually last until somewhere between 9 and 10am, you'll know when they are done, the bites just quit coming. 
Shiner fishing is still a viable option for those anglers looking to catch big numbers of bass as well as get possibly hooking up with an Okeechobee giant. Live bait or artificial bait is the biggest question og the day, it's a tossup.

Pan fishing has been very good especially around this full moon phase, look for bedding fish, the water is ultra clear and shallow in many areas both the beds and blue gill both can be easily seen when wearing good polarized glasses. The method used to catch them are varied, either a fly rod and teeny popper, or a cricket impaled on a hook under a tiny bobber, they both produce terrific results. If you don't think you want to drive over during the early morning let me know and I will be glad to hook you up at the Hampton of Okeechobee, very friendly folks.

cpt mike shellen




Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - February 15, 2014


The cold weather has slowed the great bass fishing, moreover the cold water created by the frigid weather is the real cause of a somewhat reluctant bite. When the water temperatures are in or near the 60's bass will normally continue to bite, once it delves below that mark however it can get very tough. This time of year it may be necessary to fish later in the day, if you can. Afternoon fishing can improve drastically once the water warms a few degrees. Being cold blooded creatures bass are not driven to eat when it is cold, being that the food they eat metabolizes very slowly, as opposed to when the water is warm and their food metabolizes quickly turning them into feeding machines. 

Artificial bait fishing can get tougher, requiring very slow and direct presentations that will stay in the strike zone for longer periods of time. Flipping and pitching presentations that are placed into heavy cover areas work best for many anglers, where the bass have moved under and into matted and thick types of vegetation. The North Shore is holding a large number of bass, many of them are in the sparse cover areas that have just opened up from either cold weather or spraying by the WMD. The East side of the lake is yielding large numbers of fish although a West wind can dirty the water quickly so watch the wind direction and make your best effort, fish can be found from the outside edges all the way back into the deep marsh near the dike.

Even in cold water a live wild shiner will still draw strikes, although the bites are not as frequent or as aggressive as normal. The great thing about Okeechobee in general is that the water cools quickly but also warms back up quickly, the difference a day makes can be astounding. Many times we have fished with shiners and had to work hard to catch fish, only to return the next day to have the bass slam the baits in a fast and furious fashion. To catch them you have to put your time in, no matter where or when you fish. 

Speck anglers are finding good numbers of large specks scattered along the grass lines along the North end of the lake, from Buck head Ridge to Harney Pond anglers are probing the cover areas looking for that one hot spot. Jig anglers have greater success in the heavy cover areas probing small holes in and around the spikerush and hydrilla areas. Every hole has the potential to hold fish, so many times the more meticulous angler will be the most successful too. Minnow fishermen are catching pre-spawn or staging specks along them outside grass lines as well as in the Kissimmee River and other local canals. Night fishermen are getting the better of it many times by fishing from 9 in the evening until just before sunup. There is no other place in the World like Lake Okeechobee!

cpt mike shellen


Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - November 14, 2013


The lake level is hovering around the 15 foot mark, which is 7 inches lower than this time last year. As we move deeper into fall the shorter light hours and cooler daytime temperatures help the water to cool. Water temps are  73 to 75 degrees at the present time which leads to longer activity periods for the bass. Every year at this time the very largest bass that swim in Okeechobee start to move toward the spawning areas in the lake where they will feed heavily and then eventually spawn. The Okeechobee strain of Florida largemouth is unique. Whereas  female Northern bass will all spawn within a month or so of each other the Okeechobee bass spawn will start as early as the full moon of November and waves of female bass will continue to move in and spawn throughout the fall, winter and spring. It's easy to see why the Big "O" is such a fish factory. It's hard to imagine how good it could/would be if the polluted water from the North that flows down the Kissimmee River were ever cleaned up, allowing the lake and its environment to cleanse and heal itself. The fact that the huge lake continues to thrive with fish and bird life is a tribute to the massive size and diversity of Lake Okeechobee.

Spec anglers are starting to catch good numbers of small specks that are under the 10 inch size limit place on the lake several years ago. The Kissimmee River is normally the first spot where limits of large specks appear, aside from the mouth of the river, the area north on the river around the weir is a developing hot spot as is the lock and dam area above it. Jigs and minnows are the primary baits for snagging the tasty panfish, a minnow many times will outperform a jig numbers wise, but a jig will often provide bites from the larger specks.

Artificial baits are still viable for catching good numbers of bass on the lake, top water plugs, spinner baits, senkos and jigs will all work. However there is no other bait that will match or out perform a wild golden shiner. Day in and day out live shiners will account for larger numbers of bites from large mouth as well as they entice the big bites from the largest bass . Good catch rates are being reported by guides with 35 to 50 fish per trip. Big bass are showing up with frequency, bass in the 7 to 9 lb range are an everyday occurrence. Whatever species you pursue, the possibilities are great, if you spend your time using the proper techniques in the correct areas, sounds easy huh?

cpt mike shellen



Hook, Line and Sinker  - NEW Photos

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - August 15, 2013


Lake Okeechobee has risen 2 feet during this rainy summer with several months of hurricane season left. Any questions as to whether there will be enough water this winter have already been answered. Fishermen will be able to fish areas of the lake that have not been navigable for quite a few years. Areas well back into the marsh are opening up and will continue to do so as the water continues to rise. During September the majority of bass will still be holding on the outside grass lines where they can chase and eat shad at their will. During the early morning hours bass can be found actively chasing/schooling on large numbers of shad that are attempting to hide in and around the heavy Kissimmee grass lines that surround the lake.

Many different lures will work in the grass, but a double willow leaf spinner bait out catches most other baits 2 to 1. The catch rates vary daily according to the amount of sunlight, some days 15 bass can be caught during that early onslaught, and then other days 25 to 30 will fall prey to the spinner bait. Every day is different but all offer a modicum of success with a shot at the trophy bass of a lifetime on each cast.

Once the early morning feeding frenzy is over and the fish move further into the grass a slower more methodical approach is needed. Flipping or pitching creature style baits such as an ugly otter will draw all of the bites an angler desire. Fishing the creature bait entails putting your bait into crevices and holes in any thick cover area you can see. Heavy braided line is required as is a very stout rod and reel that is capable of wrenching a fish out of their hiding place, itís basically hand to hand combat and the bass win more battles than the anglers.

Other techniques that have proved successful for us require 8 to 12 lb mono spooled on a spinning rod, armed with a fluke or a senko the very slow descent of these baits drive bass crazy at times. This techniques is better performed when t eh wind is not blowing hard, simply because the wind can make feeling the bait on the light line nearly impossible. Many times with these light offerings a bass will simply pick the bait up and swim with it, so watching for line movement is key.

A live wild shiner will entice bass to eat when nothing else will. Still the best bass bait you can use, a wild shiner will catch bass of all sizes. A bass is capable of inhaling a shiner nearly half its body length, small bass will amaze you sometimes at how aggressive they are toward shiners you may think are too big for them to eat. Letís go fishin!

Cpt mike shellen


Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - June 16, 2013


The Big ďOĒ is settled into a summer pattern, longer daylight hours and water temperatures in the low to mid-eighties are mainly responsible. During this time of year most savvy anglers realize the importance of being on the water at daybreak. At first light bass can be seen and heard as they chase bait along the Kissimmee grass lines that surround the lake. Schools of shad and other baitfish are abundant around the edges of the cover areas. Nearly any lure presented will result in jarring strikes as the fish misidentify your fake offering as a live food item. In an effort to catch as many of the marauding bass as possible in a short time we start with a bait that can be casted and retrieved quickly, allowing us to cover larger areas and make quick accurate presentations to hungry, feeding bass. Top water plugs draw vicious responses from feeding fish. But the multiple treble style hooks can lead to difficulty in unhooking fish quickly and efficiently. A spinner bait however has a single hook and is relatively weedless. When casting into the Kissimmee Grass beds an angler must start their retrieve just as the bait hits the water, which gets the double willow leaf blades turning and also keeps the bait from sinking deeper into the thick grass where it will sometimes hang up. The bass are cruising the grass and are looking up to find baitfish silhouetted against the sky, as the spinner bait comes over head the bass will lunge up from underneath and attempt to inhale the bait. It is a very exciting, and rewarding way to catch a large number of fish in a short time. Each day varies, but on a day when the bite is on fire it is possible to put 25 to 40 bass in the boat in a short time. Once the sun gets well into the sky the shad disperse and the fish move deeper into the grass, making a slower presentation necessary to continue catching. Soft plastics work well for this style of fishing, a senko, fluke or plastic worm will work just fine, lightly weighted and dragged slowly through the grass it is possible to continue having success throughout the morning at a slower catch rate.

The East side of Okeechobee is lined with Kissimmee Grass around the outer edge of the lake, and it continues around the North end of the lake, the North Shore area is lined with Kissimmee grass all the way West to Harney Pond. As the lake turns South around Point of the Reef and further down along Observation Shoal the grass continues. It is a huge area to cover but the possibilities are endless, interspersed in the grass are areas of Eel grass, pepper Grass and Hydrilla, itís bass nirvana! Watch the wind conditions and plan accordingly so that when windy conditions prevail you can launch your boat and fish in an area where the wind will not impede your day of fishing. If you have spent any time at all talking to me you have probably heard me proudly proclaim that, ďthere is no other place in the World like Lake OkeechobeeĒ and I stand by that statement, come see for yourself.

Cpt mike shellen


Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - May 21, 2013


Here we are in late May and we seem to have settled into a Summer pattern for Bass fishing. The very early morning bite can be extremely productive for those anglers that get to their favorite fishing spot when it is still nearly dark. Bass can be found schooling on shad all around the Lake. From J&S fish camp lakeside, to Indian Prairie, bass are chasing bait. Schooling fish can be seen busting shad along the Kissimmee grass lines. A white willow leaf spinnerbait worked thru the grass will result in jolting strikes from fish coming up from below and smashing into your bait. Heavy line is needed, with braid working best to horse big fish out of the thick grass. Shad imitating swim baits will work as well when fished in contact with the grasslines. Top water baits have been producing large numbers when the fish are very active, once the sun gets well into the sky later in the morning a slower presentation will be necessary to continue catching. Lightly weighted flukes, senkos and other soft plastics will all perform when worked slowly along the bottom to get reluctant fish to bite.

Blue gill are still being found in good numbers in local canals and the river, red worms and crickets work best. Harney Pond, Indian Prairie and the North Shore are all producing.

Cpt mike shellen


Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - May 1, 2013


Temperate weather conditions have warmed the lake water, which leads to terrific fishing in ideal conditions. Bass receive the most acclaim of all the fish species in Lake Okeechobee, if you have fished the big lake you already understand why. Guided shiner fishing trips are providing large catch numbers, in some cases anglers with very little or no experience are catching 25 to 40 bass per morning. The Pass area is flush with bass; there is however a large amount of underwater vegetation which can intimidate anglers. It is necessary to find the openings in the vegetation to fish shiners efficiently; another option is artificial bait that can be fished above or thru the heavy vegetation. Grassy Island, Eagle Bay and the J&S area are all holding good numbers of bass, and depending on the wind direction one or more of these areas will provide all the bites you desire. Try your favorite top water bait during the very early morning, or on cloudy days. Swim baits, flukes, spinner baits and a senko will also draw strikes when fishing the grass lines or underwater vegetation areas.

Although not as highly touted, the bluegill and shellcracker fishery of the Big ďOĒ is immense. Pan fish can be found in abundance throughout the entire lake. Bluegill and shellcracker are great table fare and can be caught using many different methods. A fly rod with a popping bug or floating spider can provide fast action when the fish are willing to rise to the top and strike. Many anglers use a spinning rod and reel with light line to cast to the bedding areas of the fish. A small bobber and tiny hook with a cricket or a red worm is all thatís needed to complete this rig. Many anglers prefer to use a bream buster pole which in effect is a fiberglass replica of a cane pole, once itís equipped with light line the length of the rod, a tiny hook, small sinker and a small bobber, this rig can be placed into spots where even the best cast has difficulty reaching. Once the use of the long pole is mastered, placing your bait in the strike zone is quite easy, and when a fish strikes all that is necessary is to lift, swing the fish into the boat, unhook it, toss it into the live well, and put another bait on your hook, and your back into the water ready to catch another chunky pan fish. The local canals, the Kissimmee River and the grass lines in the lake are all viable places to start your search for pan fish. With liberal limits and ease of catching, pan fish are great fun for anglers of all age and skill levels, and they provide tasty fillets for a family fish fry.

Cpt Mike Shellen


Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - March 15, 2013


Lake Okeechobee has been experiencing what we call the yo-yo effect. For a few days and nights the air temps will be warm, consequently the water warms and the bass feed as if there is no tomorrow. Then, a cold front rolls in and the air temps plummet, depending on the severity of the front, bass fishing (catching) may slow or shut down. Happily, we have reached a time of the year when the day and night temperatures are relatively mild, resulting in water temperatures that are warm and stable.

Several species are on the bill of fare for anglers during the Spring. Bass anglers are relishing catching not just big bass, but also large numbers of bass whether we are using artificial baits, or live bait such as a wild shiner. Blue gill and shell cracker, aka. Pan fish make their presence known in late March and can be caught throughout the Spring and Summer. There are a horde of anglers that are dedicated to the pursuit of these prolific great tasting fish. The moon phases have a great effect on the movements of all fish, particularly when it comes to spawning. Pan fish seem to disappear when the water is cold, but once Spring arrives and the water warms they show up seemingly overnight. Huge numbers of blue gill and shell cracker can be found fanning their beds in spawning areas when the water is clear enough to allow sight fishing. Areas for catching a boat load of panfish are The North Shore, Horse Island, Grassy Island and the Harney Pond area.

Numerous styles of fishing are used to catch pan fish. Ultra-light spinning tackle is favored by many, whereas an old school cane pole is preferred by many seasoned anglers. Purists will pursue blue gill with a fly rod, using a small popper or a rubber legged spider as bait. Light line, a small bobber and a tiny split shot pinched above a small hook are all that is need to load the boat with blue gill or shell cracker. Bait preferences vary from angler to angler, with grass shrimp having proved over time that they will attract any fish that swims in the lake. Grass shrimp can be difficult to acquire, whereas crickets or red worms can be purchased at nearly any tackle shop around the lake.

Spring time offers us unique fishing opportunities giving us a chance to change things up a bit. We still start our morning catching bass on shiners until the sun rises well into the sky. Around mid to late morning we either switch to bass fishing with artificial baits or utilize a bream buster pole (cane pole) and pursue blue gill or shell cracker, whichever is readily available. Itís a wonderful time to fish Lake Okeechobee great weather and first class fishing is just the tip of the iceberg.

Cpt Mike shellen

Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - February 10, 2013


It has been a great winter on Lake Okeechobee. With warmer than normal weather the fishing has been terrific, whether you are fishing for bass or specks. As this piece comes together the water temperature in the lake is near 70 degrees and climbing. We are approaching a new moon period, and then a few weeks later a full moon that will trigger another wave of large pre-spawn female bass toward the shallower water. When the roe laden females react to their spawning urges they will first feed heavily in order to store energy for the process of spawning. After feeding they cruise an area where they have chosen to spawn. Trying to find the ideal spot where they feel their eggs will have the optimum chance of survival. The security of their newly hatched fry is tantamount, the more fry that survive that first few days, weeks, months, means more fry will reach adulthood and enhance the already thriving fishery called Okeechobee. The male bass is assigned the duty of guarding the fry for a short period after hatching. and they are vigilant in their protective mode, scurrying about attempting to keep any and all predators away from their young. Young year class bass are more likely to survive when they have heavy cover areas in which to hide, eat and grow. The  spawning process is very  important, and makes the connection between spawning and the health of a fishery most important, several bad spawns and any fishery would be in a decline that could take decades from which to recover. Very healthy spawns are what have brought Okeechobee back to a prominent fishery.

Specks are being found by anglers well outside the mouth of the Kissimmee River, some of the boats are a half a mile from the shore in open water. Many days 30 to 40 boats can be sighted fishing and catching in this hot spot. Other anglers using different methods than a small cork and a minnow are finding large specks in the heavy grass lines surrounding the lake. A small jig placed into holes in the cover will result in a good number of bites, colors vary according from angler to angler, ranging from white to chartreuse.
Bass fishing is going along as it has been for the last three to four years, catching is good to great daily. As with any fishing there are some days that are better than others. During this period of the year a live wild shiner is responsible for greater numbers of bass and trophy sized bass than all other baits combined.
Cpt Mike Shellen


Hook, Line and Sinker

The Captain Mike Shellen Fishing Report - January 7, 2013


In past years late December and January have provided  some very cold days and night in our area of Florida. This year has been quite mild in comparison, which lends itself to great fishing conditions, and great fishing on Lake Okeechobee. Bass anglers from all over the Country are making Okeechobee their winter home. The lake is hosting numerous national tournaments as well as local club events. The BFL was  held this past weekend with 200 anglers vying for the top money, the winning stringer was brought to the scale by Steven Stinson weighing in a hefty five bass limit of 32lbs 10 oz to capture the $6000 prize. Everstart Series anglers will be competing  January 10 thru the 12th, and will feature some of the nation's best anglers. Then the FLW Tour pros hit the lake in mid February, it will be interesting to see if the pros can top the 4 day winning  weight posted last year of 107 pounds for 20 bass.
Locally anglers are finding big numbers of bass in all sections of the lake. The Big "O" has been in great condition for several years now and this winter is further enhancing  that reputation. The low water periods of several years ago served to enhance the fishery greatly, enabling the bass to have prolific spawns, and allowing the young bass to grow to a size where their survival rate was extremely high. Many of the bass that were spawned during that time are now very healthy 4 to 7 pound fish.

After a very wet summer the lake level is 14.97 feet, a level that gives fish of all species vast areas of marsh to roam through. Fishermen are finding the bass scattered into all areas of the lake affording anglers the opportunity to catch them using may different techniques. Top water baits can draw strikes in open pockets in the thick cover, while swim baits fished on heavy braided line afford the angler a better chance of landing a big bass in heavy cover. Traditional baits such as  spinner baits, plastic worms or a senko will garner bites, but most often from smaller bass. The technique used most often by the pro's to catch true heavyweight bass is a flipping or pitching technique. Using a creature bait, a large tube, or one of hundreds of baits designed strictly for that purpose. Anglers using this presentation are fastidious in regards to their tackle and the presentation of their bait. Using 50 to 65 lb braid on a extra heavy 7 1/2 to 8 foot rod that allows them to wrestle Okeechobee's giant bass from the thickest cover and into the boat.
Shiner fishing with a guide gives the less experienced angler a chance to catch the bass of a lifetime and also catch large numbers of bass, while anchored in position, often in one spot. On Jan. 2 Mario Pineda from Leesburg caught 35 bass during a morning trip, topping his day off with an true Okeechobee giant bass weighing 11lbs 4oz. The big lake is a beautiful piece of history where peace , quiet and great scenery surround you.

Cpt Mike Shellen



2012 Captain Mike Shellen fishing Reports

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.  
  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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