The Best Florida Bass Fishing
In this article I am going to discuss two excellent places in Florida to fish for Largemouth Bass. One is the largest and most well known lake in the state, the other an overlooked hotspot I have fished with great success. They each require a different style of fishing. One offers the best chance for landing a very large bass, the other offers a chance to catch many bass from shore.
Lake Okeechobee in my opinion is hands down the best Largemouth Bass lake in the United States. It is a large lake, in fact of all the lakes completely within the borders of the United States only Lake Michigan is larger. It is also a very shallow lake. Most of the water you will fish is between three to six feet deep. It is a very weedy lake and in my opinion very easy to fish.
If your main objective is to catch Largemouth Bass the surefire method of success is to use live shiners. You want to use “wild shiners” caught directly from the lake, they are much more productive. Finding fish is not very difficult. Look for weedy areas and areas that offer some kind of cover. In a shallow lake like Okeechobee you can often scan an area and see where the fish are.
When using live shiners generally the larger the bait the larger the average fish you will catch. Sure you can catch a monster on a small shiner. In the long run however a fisherman using eight inch long shiners will catch bigger fish than another fisherman using five inch shiners. Keeping your bait lively is very important. An aerated livewell puts you at a big advantage in this regard. Pay careful attention to how you hook your shiner. Use a hook that is appropriate to the size of bait you are using. If hooking through the lips you need to be careful casting that you do not throw the bait off the hook. I prefer to hook shiners through the upper back. When doing this make sure not to impale the fish too deeply in the body where its organs are. An appropriate size hook through the shiner’s upper back is the way to go.
You can fish your live bait in several different ways. I prefer sometimes to suspend my bait under a bobber while allowing the boat to drift. When fishing with a bobber often the indication of a pickup is the bobber moving to the left or right. I like to set my hooks quickly when I have a pickup. These are big bass with very tough mouths. You need to have a rod with some backbone to it. I recommend a medium/heavy action rod. You also need to be firm in setting your hooks. Keep the hooks sharp and don’t be afraid to make a stiff hookset.
Fishing with artificial baits is of course a much more sporting method of fishing. Okeechobee has many weeds and is best fished with weedless or semi-weedless lures. Spinnerbaits are an awesome lure to use. I have caught many fish by finding a section of the lake with water depth of 4-6 feel with submerged weeds with 1-2 feet of the surface. I cast my spinnerbait either directly over the weeds or make my retrieve slower and allow the bait to glide through the tops of the weeds. Sometimes I will allow the lure to drop into pockets of the weeds.
You can of course fish this type of area with other baits as well. Top water baits can offer a great deal of excitement. I like to use a topwater bait when there is little or no wind. A worm rigged weedless is another good choice. Stay away from crankbaits or traditional spinners.
Equipment choice is a major factor in fishing this lake. You often are faced with many places a hooked fish can wrap the line around. I prefer a rod in these situations that is pretty stiff. You are much less concerned in these circumstances with feeling bites so a sensitive rod is not a priority. You need to be able to horse a fish around obstructions. A medium to heavy action rod with a powerful reel is the ticket in these situations.
A final suggestion for fishing Lake Okeechobee is investing in a good pair of sunglasses. You would be surprised at how many bass you can spot with them and subsequently target.