Both waterways terminate at Lake Okeechobee, arguably the world’s most famous largemouth bass fishery. But if your idea of bass fishing is pitching soft plastics through hydrilla mats, drifting huge wild shiners and zooming home with 250 horses at your transom, you’re in for an awakening.
When you hear the word bass, most think of sparkly boats, baitcasters and big tournament payouts. But for fisherman in South Florida, the peacock bass is the staple in the local freshwater systems. With their aggressive eats, strong runs and beautiful colors, these fish have become prized gamefish.
It’s not the most glamorous bass tactic, and you’re not likely to see it on the cable TV fishing shows. But there’s a reason why slow-trolling live shiners is the bread and butter technique for bass guides from Lake Okeechobee to Talquin–it works.
If Stephen Foster had known about the Econlockhatchee, or Econ, the lyrics to his famous song may have been different.
The Econ doesn’t come up in discussions of great Florida fishing waters. Fishing the Econ is usually a lovely day on the water with a few beautiful fish thrown in. It can be better than that, but you really can’t expect it to be.
No joke here, you’d be an April fool if you miss the opportunity to enjoy spring fishing here in Florida. April is among the most popular fishing months for freshwater anglers. This time of year the weather can be glorious, with flowers blooming, birds singing and fish spawning.
Many of Florida’s rivers and lakes are fed by springs, and the water tends to be very clear year-round. But even on waterbodies fed primarily by surface runoff, late winter and spring can see exceptionally clear conditions, due to the cool water and limited growth of algae. This puts us anglers at a disadvantage.
Gar range from the Everglades to the Georgia border and west to Alabama. However, for some fast and fun gar fishing, potential gar anglers might want to journey to the rivers of Panhandle Florida and look for gar as they come to the surface to take breaths of air.
At its meeting Thursday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved sweeping changes to streamline bass regulations and increase effectiveness. Commissioners meeting at the Florida Institute of Public Safety near Tallahassee approved implementation of new black bass conservation measures, which will go into effect July 1.
This came to mind because, every year at ICAST, the international fishing tackle trade show, there are a few more mice, rats, birds—and turtles—among the many baitfish, crawfish and frog lures engineered to fool bass—or bass anglers. Actually, mice lures have been around forever—my Uncle Bob back in Ohio was fishing one in the 1950′s, though I don’t think he ever caught anything on it.
Located in the eastern middle of the state, Lake Okeechobee is truly a huge body of water. Miles of shoreline, bays, airboat trails, grass edges, floating hyacinth islands and a host of other bass habitat await anglers. It seems that every foot of it is prime bass water. The lake also holds stable populations of black crappie, shellcrackers, bluegill, channel catfish, gar and a host of other freshwater fishes.
When bass are tight to cover or buried beneath it, getting a lure in front of them can be difficult. Plugs with treble hooks are suited for nibbling around edges of cover. If fish are active such an approach may work well. However, when bass hunker in places inaccessible to most lures, as they often do, a weedless offering is a must.
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