Mention its name to any serious bass fisherman and their ears perk up. Everyone’s heard the stories/legends of this iconic fishery. It’s hard to describe the sheer size of Lake Okeechobee. You can literally fish this lake for weeks straight and not scratch the surface. In fact, it’s best to launch in and fish specific areas (Harney Pond, Clewiston, South Bay) to eliminate long boat rides and maximize your time on the water. It’s huge and everything looks awesome to fish. This is the greatest challenge to fishing in Florida, regardless of lake you are on for the day. Everything looks “fishy,” but most fish are grouped in specific areas. Here’s where booking a guide can help a bunch. A guide will help you eliminate water and ensure you are around fish, utilizing the most efficient techniques to catch fish. The water on Okeechobee is normally tannic stained, and if it’s not, you need to move… I look for several things prior to fishing an area: good water, good vegetation, and depth. Okeechobee is great for both numbers and size. Due to the amount of visiting anglers, I think it’s a fair argument that more anglers catch their personal best here than any other lake in America. While it receives a tremendous amount of angler pressure, it produces well every year. This lake is known for the outstanding largemouth fishing, but also supports a world class crappie and shellcracker fishery.
Stick Marsh/Farm 13
Every angler has their favorite lake and this is mine. I fished Lake Falcon at its peak and this place can give it a run for its money! This lake produces many 10+lb fish yearly and is definitely the best lake in central Florida (perhaps the nation) to catch a 5-8lb fish. Simply put, it’s loaded! This lake is strictly catch and release, producing a haven for giants. Whether you’re into shiner fishing or artificials, this is the place to catch em…. Like most lakes here, you gotta find the right vegetation or shell bar to catch fish in numbers. I look for hydrilla, eelgrass, and/or hyacinths to fish. A word of caution, this lake is littered with submerged timber, left standing from when it was originally filled. The southern end can be treacherous for your boat and lower unit. You definitely want to shut down in deeper water and idle into fishing the vegetation.
Lake Garcia (Ansin Garcia)
A smaller, less known lake located close to the Stick Marsh that, at times, can be phenomenal fishing. Lake Garcia has thick submerged vegetation that limits many anglers ability to explore the lake and pursue it’s big green mommas. The grass actually protects many of the fish from the frying pan of the bucket brigades that will swarm on Florida lakes that allow catch and keep.
A.K.A Jurassic park, it is indeed a land of giant dinosaurs! It’s strictly managed as catch and release to maximize the size of fish available while greatly reducing tournament fishing pressure. If breaking out the big rods and flipping big baits into the thickest salad in America is your thing, then this place is for you! Kenansville is a very shallow lake (about 3-4’ throughout) shaped like a large rectangle with canals cut through the middle and the north end. It’s small enough that you can run around to find good water color, good vegetation and groups of fish. I do well on this lake covering water and poleing down when you hit a group. At times the hydrilla can cover the entire lake making it difficult to fish effectively. It’s best when the grass is alive and present, but scattered. Then the fish seemed to group up in the scattered hydrilla or under the vast hyacinth mats.
A small lake (around 1,000 acres) on the Kissimmee chain with giants. This often overlooked lake spits out 10+lb fish yearly many 4-6lb fish. Like most lakes in Florida, navigation and fishing can be impacted by vegetation growth. I personally enjoy this lake when it’s loaded with healthy hydrilla beds, which seem to hold the larger fish.
Is a world renown fishery for good reason, it produces giant fish every year, regardless of fishing and tournament pressure. Of all the large lakes in Florida, this seems to produce the best average size fish. While Okeechobee is famous for size and numbers, Kissimmee is famous for giants. On one of my first trips there, we met two separate anglers at the ramp who were bringing fish to be weighed on scales at the tackle shop. Each fish was over 12 lbs, caught on lures, by gentlemen pre fishing for a bassmaster event… Ridiculous, but it happens here. When this place gets hot, it will take north of 30lbs to win and, often, 20lbs can be outside the cutline.
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