Tag: Okeechobee Rig
The arrival of tropical storms, like this year’s Tropical Storm Barry, coincides closely with the typical date for onset of Florida’s so called ‘rainy season’ that generally runs from late May to October. Although Florida fishermen experienced a record ‘dry season’ this year, the occurrence of drought during the cooler winter and spring months was hardly unusual. Bass fishing in [tag-ice]Lake Okeechobee suffered as water levels reached all-time lows, exposing large areas of lake bottom and leaving many boat ramps high and dry.
There has been a silver lining to the drought for the Florida strain of largemouth bass living in Lake O, as some locals call it. The Army Corps of Engineers began a project last year to scrape decades of accumulated “muck” off the exposed lake bed. Phosphorus and nitrogen runoff from fertilizers used on farms, golf courses and lawns has been building up in Okeechobee ever since the natural flow of water out of the lake was reversed early in the 20th century to help retain a supply in Lake O for agriculture and drinking water. These chemicals generate unnatural spread of certain plants and algae which overgrow then die off and coat the bottom this the toxic “muck.”
The bass fishing in Okeechobee should benefit both from Barry’s rain and the new sections of the natural sandy bottom of Lake O revealed after the dredging. As the water levels rise, natural grasses will reclaim the cleaned areas, dissolved oxygen levels should increase in the absence of the artificial plant blooms, and much new spawning habitat will open to the monster bass Lake Okeechobee is famous for.
Bass fishermen headed to Lake O should expect to find the bass in heavy grass cover. Try the new Okeechobee Rig, a lure developed specifically for fishermen flipping for bass in dense brush or grass cover. You’ll need to be casting strong braid or mono to effectively haul out hooked bass – at least 20lb test, but 30-60lb braid is commonly used on the tournament trail. I set up with Power Pro rigged with a Seaguar Flourocarbon leader.