This is my 4th year on Okeechobee. The lake is fishing WAY differently than in years past. The lake is choked out. The vegetation so thick in most areas, you simply cannot get to a lot of areas that we used to fish. The fish are more main lake/outside edge of the grass line, where they’ve never really been when I’ve bee here. What that means is new locations, and new ways to catch them. You can actually fish hanging trebles and non-weedless baits, but with the water falling, weedless is better than not most times. Still, new lake to me, fishing pretty old school I imagine, lots of flipping and punching going on, and just light pitching. But unless you know where the big ones are, that is a brutal way to go about Okeechobee, and the zillions of miles of shoreline grass, mats, and edges.
Guys are going to smash them. I mean, 25-30 pound sacks. Flipping and punching. I’m not doing either. I’m going with the swimmers. I have a small-medium-large approach, and let me be clear, I’m fishing the Everstart and FLW Tour Event, so this is the first of two events I’ll be fishing, so I’ve got reason to not fully disclose everything, until after the Tour Event (Feb 12th). I’ve had some big days on the grass swimmers. I’m fishing new baits, new water, new techniques and taking my bigbait approach to the grass, and some days, it works. However, the last 2 days of practice have sucked. I haven’t been catching them quite like I want to be at all. They aren’t eating the bigbaits right now for some reason. They sorta bump it and I’m talking 5-7 bites on a GOOD day, more like 1-2 bites some days. This isn’t the Okeechobee where you catch 20-40 fish no problem. I could come in with 1 or 2 fish tomorrow, but I’ve made up my mind to fish my game, fish my strengths and sorta let this be a test run for the Tour Open.
Braided line, bigbaits, and 8 foot rods can be killer. Okeechobee can give and Okeechobee can take. This place flip flops from whipping my butt and stoking me out. Tomorrow, I’m boat 12, which wasn’t what I wanted, but whatever, first flight, early weigh in, gotta go for it. I know I’m around some quality fish, and God willing, I get 5 bites in the boat. Have a long day on Friday, and our weather has been pretty much gorgeous, but again, the lake is different. In year’s past, I’d be putting 75-100 fish in the boat per day with 80 degree air temps. It’s just not that way, despite the good weather. The flippers and punchers are going to get ’em, but only a handful are going to get the big ones. Too many guys are struggling and scratching. I’m way better at focusing on 5 bites with a swimmer in my hand than punching a Beaver with the rest of the world. You want to talk about overwhelming, try tackling Okeechobee with a flipping rod. So thick and choked this year too.
Wish me luck, I’m going to need it. Gonna take all my powers and skills to get 5 fish in the boat tomorrow. I’m not fishing for 2 pounders and fishing the safe and conservative route. I’ve never had fish eating the baits I’m throwing, leading up to a tournament and I gotta go for it. This could be a big disaster for this Everstart, but even so, I’m considering this a sort of dress rehearsal for the Tour Event. I just don’t feel like compromising and playing it conservative. I’m tired of fishing every game but my own. I’ve had as many as 12-15 bites and 25 pounds easy on my better days. The weather has been warming things up and I expect boys to catch ’em, just not everyone is going to have 20+ pounds. I guess it will take 12 pounds per day to get a check. I think I can get 12 pounds in 2-3 of the right bites per day. No bed fish going, but that too might change come Tour time. Anywho, gonna try and have some fun, fish my strengths and my game, and if Day 1 doesn’t pan out, even more reason on Day 2 to go back and do it all over because I’m not gonna get 30 pounds fishing texas rigged trick worms, which is a good bait right now!