Hot, HOT Summer Fishing In Southern Florida!
By Jim Dicken /
Fishing Guides Home Page
middle of summer is not the normal time you would find MOST people making
Florida their fishing destination. At best the summer destination of choice
in Florida is the local Disney Franchise, not lake Okeechobee for Trophy
Bass. The shame is that folks are missing great fishing opportunities not
far away. Summer mornings and evenings produce really large stringers of
Largemouth Bass. Some local tournaments produce 6 fish limits of 40 or MORE
pounds. Guided trips produce 6 fish stringers Over 30 pounds. Even more
amazing is the fact that the parking area at the ramp we launched from was
almost empty of cars. When was the last time you fished a major impoundment
in summer and could pick your parking spot.
My July trip produced 23 bass on our first
half day of fishing. We started out the morning with 3 dozen wild shiners,
and used every one by 9:30. My partner Lee Fox, was amazed by the action
that Butch Butler and Eddie Perry our guides the two days we were there
regarded as S-L-O-W. Even more amazing to Lee was the fact that the fish
were still so shallow this late in the year with the water currently in the
85 to 88 degree range. Fish chased shiners to the surface several times
swirling water near the bobbers which disappeared in a large splash, making
for dramatic lake theater.
Day one started with small fish in the one pound range and each fish got
bigger as the morning seemed to progress. Our pinnacle was a 6 pound 8 ounce
fish that was a superb specimen which fought much like its smaller brothers
convincing me it might be my first double digit bass...
All of these fish fought amazingly hard.
Small fish fooled us on several occasions making us believe that they were
larger fish. Late morning fishing was another surprise to 2 Kentucky boys
used to fishing, deep structure when the water gets into the mid 80 degree
range. Surface poppers, and Tiny Torpedoes produced fish as well as a Zoom
paddle tail shad that was fixed with a slit in it to make the tail slap the
water like a surface bait as it was reeled across the surface.
There is no big secret to our success. The guides do their homework on a
daily basis, and they fish live shiners. Rigging is pretty simple. A simple
slip bobber, with a 2/0 hook, fished about a foot and a half deep. The fish
we were catching were holding on a sand bar in about 2 to 3 feet of water.
The surprise of the morning was a Needle Fish attacking one of the baits.
The Needle fish is very thin, shaped somewhat like a gar. However the one
that attacked my 5 inch shiner was about 7 inches long and most likely
weighed much less than the live shiner. It was a hilarious acrobatic battle
with the needle fish finally losing when I pulled the bait back to the boat
to place it elsewhere..
Day 2 of the trip was spent again early in the morning fishing shiners.
However Day 2 absolutely beat day 1. We took a dozen more shiners with us,
and used them all by 9:30 Am . The fish were absolutely on fire.
We doubled, 2 fish on 3 different times, and
had a triple when we put a third pole out for a short period of time. Fish
were of a slightly better quality too. 2 to 3 pounds was the average with
only few dinks taking our shiners. The big fish though was a 5.5 pound
largemouth, which took a shiner just as Butch Butler our day 2 guide said
lets real them in and try another spot. Add in the 3 gar, one which weighed
over 10 pounds and we boated 33 fish in just over 2 hours.
Wind on the second day started out a bit lighter but built as the day went
on. Storms and rain stayed north of us, though with all the action we had I
doubt we would have noticed any rain. The best part of day 2 was the lighter
spinning tackle that we used. The lighter tackle was regular spinning
tackle. Shakespeare Spinning reels rigged with Power Pro fishing line. Our
hookup percentage was a bit better as well. 30 fish out of 48 versus 20 out
of 36 the day before on regular casting tackle. Of course our hooking skills
had improved to be fair about it.
We had to put up with several gawkers
who ran in extremely close on this 500,000 acre lake. One boat sat and
watched us just after we got to our spot, for over an hour, finally deciding
to watch from about 30 yards away. My partner wanted to know if he should
cast a shiner into their boat so they could see how it was rigged, we
decided instead to just continue to catch fish and make them even more green
Our guides told me and it was echoed by other guides at Garrard's Bait and
tackle that the summer fishing on Big Lake O' is actually much more
consistent than the winter fishing on the lake. Fronts that blow through in
the winter can blow a week of hard fishing to find a customer good fish. In
summer the fronts do not bring much change in the water. Constant wind any
place from 3 to 10 miles an hour most days keeps the fishing comfortable.
Early mornings temps are in the 70's to low 80's until noon, so a four hour
day starting at 6 or 7 AM is extremely comfortable.
Even more fun can be the monthly Shellcracker runs. The full moon each month
in May, June and July bring spawing shellcrackers. These fish build beds as
large as a quarter of an acre, and can average over a pound with many fish
in the 1.5 to 2 pound range. The largest caught by one of our guides has
been a monster shellcracker just over 3 pounds.
Crappie are almost non-existent in the summer, but crappie on Lake
Okeechobee during the October to March period can be into the 3 pound range.
Good catches will fill a cooler in not time and for crappie fanciers this is
a great fillet.
Bonus fish do also appear in the lake on occasion. Tarpon, Snook, Tilapia,
and the occasional exotic show up. Tarpon come up stream from the Gulf into
the lake and the largest known to date was in the 50 pound range. Snook can
live full time in the lake and do get into the 20 pound range. One friend of
our guide who was fishing a tournament caught one that weighed over 15
pounds on a spinnerbait on his first cast of the evening. Hmmm do you get
disappointed when you catch a 15 pound snook in a Bass Fishing Tournament??
Dont go to the lake EXPECTING to catch these fish. However know that they
are around and can turn an extremely good day into a really thrilling day.
Our live shiners were purchased from Garrard's Bait and Tackle which was
only 2 doors down from the Flamingo Motel Lee and I stayed in, and the store
also had guides available on short notice this summer day. Crickets for the
Shellcrackers, worms and nightcrawlers are also available. Our guide's for
the 2 days I was there were Bucth Butler & Eddie Perry, who work out of
Garrard's Bait and Tackle.
WHAT to Bring... Sun Screen, Lee and I used a spray on Sun Screen called
Bull Frog. It did not sweat into our eyes on the hot mornings, and was very
easy to apply. Sun Glasses, definitely a plus much of your fishing is done
with a west wind facing east into the morning sun. Light colored shirts are
very good, both long and short sleeved ones for folks like me with severely
light complexion. Bug repellent for around the pool or for light wind days.
We did not need any due to winds, but experienced some discomfort when
loading and unloading the car in the evenings.
If you are going to Okeechobee, I personally recommend the Flamingo Motel.
The Motel is set up nicely for fishermen, who are on a budget, or like a
really nice place to stay. The only motel I have ever been to with a Fish
Cleaning Station. This motel caters to fishermen and their families. The
rooms have both a refrigerator and microwave, are large, and if you have a
family there is a very nice well maintained swimming pool. It is just down 2
doors down from Garrard's Bait and Tackle which makes getting a license,
bait and tackle very easy when you get up in the morning. Breakfast is also
a snap, since the local Mc D's is right next door.
Contact info if you go:
Butch Butler's website is
Eddie Perry's website is
Phone: (866) 758-2935
Garrard's Bait and Tackle website is
4259 Hwy 441 S.
Okeechobee, Florida. 34974
Cell Phone: 863-635-1502
Toll Free Phone: 1-800-600-3474
Flamingo Motel website is
Email Us: email@example.com
4101 Hwy 441 South Okeechobee Florida
Story & Photos By Jim Dicken
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