TCPalm

Lake level, conditions perfect for bass fishing

December fishing action will be good

By Capt. Mike Shellen special to Treasure Coast Newspapers

December 5, 2011

http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2011/dec/05/no-headline---tc_spt_lakeo/

OKEECHOBEE - It's hard to conceive that December's fishing could possibly be any better than the incredible fishing we experienced in November. There are huge numbers of bass in the lake, period. The lake is presently at a perfect level, with huge areas of native vegetation, and the water for the most part is clear.

The past few years we have caught great numbers of 7 to 10 pound bass from the lake, but the for the last three years the single largest bass of each year has been landed in December. In 2009 it was a 12.65 pound giant that was caught Dec. 23. In 2010 it was a 12.2 pound bass caught on Dec. 29, and last year it was an 11.18 pound bass caught on Dec. 15. Call that a coincidence perhaps, but I see it as a pattern.

The water temperatures are hovering around 70 degrees and the fish continue to bite on both artificial baits and shiners. Most of our larger bass are falling prey to a large, live wild shiner. Artificial baits may account for larger numbers of fish, but they normally will not be of the quality that can be caught on a shiner.

If on the lake before sunup it is still possible to catch bass on a topwater bait and a number of baits produce. What is more critical is getting one's offering in the right place at the right time, than a particular color or style of bait. Spinner baits have been producing some very nice bass catches when worked through and around the clumps of weeds and heavy cover. A skinny dipper is still producing for those dedicated enough to stick with it. Several colors are working. Houdini and California 420 are two favorites.

For catching smaller fish, a fluke with little or no weight worked over and through the hydrilla will keep the action going all day. Many anglers that are targeting primarily big bass are flipping or pitching with creature type baits like an ugly otter or sweet beaver.

Speck fishing has been good early this fall with anglers catching good sized keeper specks both in the grass and in the open water areas. Anglers targeting the Kissimmee River are catching fish along the edges on both plain jigs or tipping a jig with a minnow. Lake areas that are producing are near Grassy Island, Tin House Cove, Indian Prairie and the east side of the lake around J & S Fish Camp.

A guided fishing trip makes a great Christmas present for an experienced angler or someone that has never fished before. We furnish all tackle and can teach an angler what he or she needs to know to catch bass on Lake Okeechobee. Gift certificates can be purchased by calling or through our website.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. See ya next year!

Capt. Mike Shellen is a fishing guide at Lake Okeechobee. He can be reached at www.OkeechobeeBassFishing.com or 863-357-0892      .