Welcome to Lake Okeechobee
The name “Okeechobee” in Seminole Indian is translated “Big Water.” The lake is 730 square miles and produces more 7+ lb bass than any lake in the country.
I feel like “Big Water” is a perfect name for this lake. We were excited to tackle a section in kayaks with Rod, an experienced kayak angler in the area, and a super cool dude!
Most Bass-heads agree there is no place that can compare with Lake Okeechobee. The lake has changed since Hurricane Irma though. Rod tells you exactly how later in this blog and in the video.
The lake is about 37 miles long by 30 miles wide with an average depth of only 10 feet. It’s renowned for the number of bass it has per acre.
Lures and wild shiners are the most common ways to fish the “Big O”.
Hurricane Irma’s Impact on Lake Okeechobee
Rod explained to us that Okee has changed quite a bit since Hurricane Irma. He said, before Irma, he would have told us it was the best place on earth to fish for Bass. But, hurricane Irma really impacted the lake. The quality has suffered. It really changed the way it fishes. He said it’s still not bad, but definitely not what it used to be. It’s going to take years to get back to what it was because it really flushed out the grass. A lot of vegetation has died off. Not as much cover as it used to have. But, even with this setback, it’s still a Bass mecca.
As we pulled into our motel the night before Okeechobee, the power went out. We were stuck in our room with no AC and no WiFi (GASP!) and couldn’t believe our misfortune. But luckily the power came back after not too long and we were able to get our uploads completed and enjoy a shower with some AC. Living that life of luxury! 😉
This set us back about 2 hours and we went to bed at 2 am only to be waking up at 5 the next morning. We woke up already groggy and knew that today might be a tough one. We got packed up, grabbed a coffee, and drove a couple minutes to the ramp to meet up with Rod, our kayak pro for the day.
Rod got his Hobie set up and we headed out. Immediately we saw and alligator cruising and watched it slowly go under which was a little spooky.
We knew we had the chance at a great fish and had pretty high hopes, but after half the day with lots of swells from a higher than predicted day and no fish to show for our work. Our hopes were down.
Away from the racket of life
Rod spends about 250+ days on the water. He loves it because he said it gives him peace of mind and gets him away from the racket of life. This is something that Alex and I, and probably most avid anglers, totally relate to. There’s nothing like being on the water. This video really captures the peacefulness and serenity of this environment, make sure you catch it here.
Catching Tilapia and Bass Later in the Day
We were fishing grass lines and then moved into deeper weed beds. It was tougher in the morning with the wind. But, we kept fishing and we were rewarded.
As we were sitting taking a break, I finally caught the first fish. It was a big tilapia. I snapped my rod while trying to handle it which was typical for the day we were having. 😉
I finally caught the first largemouth of the day soon after and then it was game on.
Marking the catch with my Bullseye
After a couple more hours of no fish, Rod punched a mat and stuck a nice fish that I had to get from the depths because it got stuck on a log. I stuck my arm down in the Okeechobee water without even thinking about the alligators until after. That brought the mood up and then I caught a couple fish using the punching technique that rod taught me.
As we paddled in for the day, we hooked up on a couple more fish in the canal area and ended the day paddling just under 6 miles total
Right after I realized I stuck my hand it alligator infested waters without even thinking.
Rod’s Secret Setup and Lake Okeechobee Fishing Tips
If there are two things to know when you visit Okeechobee, here they are: snell knots and Bruiser Baits Crazy Craws.
Rod has tied a few Snells in his day and is crazy about custom rigged Bruiser Baits Crazy Craws.
This professional kayaker was generous to take the time to give away some invaluable tips for fishing this body of water. He put on a clinic for rigging for Bass on the Okeechobee and putting together a great punch rig for areas with heavy cover. We couldn’t be more grateful!
Tying a Snell.
Here’s how he rigs when fishing for bass around lots of structure, grass, trees and areas with heavy cover. Want to punch through cover and catch bass in Okee? Rod breaks it down for you.
- He uses a Vexan Rods V710 extra heavy. He calls this his “beef stick.” This thing is rated to 2.5 oz weights. Great for a hefty punch rigs.
- Then, use 65 lb Goat Rope from Bass Addiction gear.
- Three small bobber stops.
- 1-2 oz Tungsten fishing skirt punch weight. Like this punch skirt from Bass Addiction.
- 4 ought hook. Always tie a snell knot! He explained how Snell knots in this rig turn the hook up when they bite to improve hook set and crazy. Watch the video to see this demonstrated.
- Bruiser Bait Crazy Craw, knock out color. Set flipping/punch style.
He said with this setup to “hit him with everything you got” to turn that hook up when they bite.
Explaining how this rig sets the hook.
Another great thing about this setup is that 90% of hook ups are above the jawline because of how that Snell knot turns the hook up upon hook set jerk. See demonstration in the video.
He also took a moment to show us the difference between Texas rigging vs. flip rigging. He explained how it is due to whether the hook is exposed or not. In Texas rigs, the hook is slightly exposed, where flipping it is not. See picture below.
Texas vs. Flipping
Make sure you watch the video episode for all of Rod’s awesome lake Okachobee fishing tips.
Next, we are headed to Jupiter, FL!