Lake Okeechobee Zone
The famous Lake Okeechobee or simply the Big O is consistently one of Florida’s top producing bass lakes. Situated in south central Florida, the “Big O” covers 730 square miles and is easily accessible from Florida’s east and west coasts. Lake Okeechobee is the second-largest freshwater lake within the continental United States, second only to Lake Michigan. The lake is s typical shallow Florida lake, with an average depth of only 9 feet. This massive body of water covers five counties (Glades, Okeechobee, Martin, Palm Beach, and Hendry) where all five meet at a point near the center of the lake.
The Lake Okeechobee area includes Harney Pond Canal (C-41) north of S.R. 78 to water control structure S-71; Indian Prairie Canal (C-40) north of S.R. 78 to water control structure S-72; all of Taylor Creek and Nubbin Slough; C-38 Canal/Kissimmee River south of water control structure S-65E to S.R 78, Okeechobee County:
FWC passes freshwater recreational fishing rule changes:
Old Rule: “Black bass from 13 inches to 18 inches in total length must be released immediately; bass less than 13 inches or bass 18 inches or longer may be kept.” This rule has changed as of Feb. 06, 2008. The New Rule states, “The black bass length regulation on Lake Okeechobee moved from a 13-inch to 18-inch slot limit to an 18-inch or greater minimum length limit.” These Rules were put in place to help Lake Okeechobee’s recovery from recent environmental problems. The 5 fish daily creel limit and one fish over 22 inches in length stay the same.
Also, a new rule establishes a 10-inch or greater minimum length for black crappie on the lake.
Despite the recent setbacks, FWC biologists are expecting a tremendous year class for The Big O this year. Due to the water level fluctuations, this lake is also experiencing positive changes in vegetation.
In 2007, during a drought, state water and wildlife managers removed thousands of truckloads of toxic mud from the lake bed, in an attempt to bring the lake back to its natural sandy base. The mud contained elevated levels of arsenic and other pesticides. According to tests from the South Florida Water Management District, arsenic levels on the northern part of the lake bed too great to use for residential, agricultural or commercial lands, and difficult to even dispose of.
Anglers are routinely catching big bass weighing 10 to 12 pounds. The lake record is 15 pounds, 5 ounces. Lake Okeechobee is currently averaging 500 tournaments a year. Some of the best areas to fish are the bulrushes near Eagle Bay Island, Little Grassy Island and King’s Bar at the north end of the lake. The largest bass are caught using live shiners and casting into, or along grass edges, cattails and reed beds. In open water the hydrilla beds and pepper grass will hold good fish. Plastic worms and spinner baits are often productive. Flipping the matted grass edges or using a ½ to 1 ounce weight and flipping into the heaviest cover can produce your bigger fish. Out on the edges or over submerged grass beds you’ll find lipless crankbaits, buzzbaits, shad assassins or jerkbaits will work well. The hot bait of late has been the Zoom’s Horny Toad. By casting it on top of matted grass and simply reeling it at a slow steady pace, fast enough to keep it just under the surface can attract some pretty exiting bites.
This 448,000-acre lake is world famous for outstanding bass, bream, and crappie fishing. The lake is 35 miles north to south and 29.6 miles at its widest point east to west. Boat access is available at Harney Pond Canal, Indian Prairie Canal, Caloosa Lodge Marina, Buckhead Marina and the Moore Haven Marina on US Hwy. 27. Also in Clewiston you’ll find Anglers and Roland Martin’s Marina. Bank fishing is available along the rim canal in Moore Haven and along the Harney Pond and Indian Prairie canals. For more information on boat access, fish camps and hotels available in the area contact:
- Clewiston Chamber of Commerce at (941) 983-7979
- Okeechobee Chamber of Commerce at (941) 763-6464
Back in 1928 a hurricane devastated the area around Lake Okeechobee when the water from the lake flowed over the old dike causing massive flooding and killing thousands in the surrounding area. After that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a 20 foot high dike around the lake with flood gates to allow access by boats to and from the marinas and canals that lay outside the dike. This created the rim canal that runs along most of the south end of the lake providing a good running depth for boats and some deep holes that, at times, hold good fish. There are several inflows, including Taylor Creek and the Kissimmee River, and several small outlets, such as the Miami River, the New River on the east, and the Caloosahatchee River (via the Caloosahatchee Canal and Lake Hicpochee) on the southwest.
Return from Lake Okeechobee Zone to Florida Fishing Rules 2007-2008