I DO NOT have this bite figured out and by no means can speak as an authority.  Something is always bedding on Okeechobee….bass, bluegill, talapia/goggle-eyes, and Asian armored catfish.   There is a cycle and way of life in the lake, in all lakes I suppose, that mirrors this to some level.  You notice bass beds become bluegill beds or talapia/goggle-eye beds.  The beds get re-used.  Sometime I’ll share what I do with the 3:16 Rising Son around bedding bass, but for now, just wanted to share a nice one I got on Okeechobee over the weekend.  It’s NOT easy out there for me.  Okeechobee is on a fickle cycle for a swimbait guy.  Lots of algae bloom, weird color water, bad wind, overgrown and choked out.  The good black clear water I like to fish is really hard to come by.  The fish are more ‘outside’ grass edge oriented and ideally, I’d have nice black clear water, or inside grass pools with enough depth and life to hold fish.    The bite right now, as usual, is a flipping and punching bite.  That is how you will win on Okeechobee.  If tide and time completely come together and you make the right moves during a 4 day event to pull it off, I think a sight fish/swimbait bite could beat a pure punching bite.  I missed my opportunity, twice, at the Tour level to prove and show that.   I have nightmares about it. It haunts me, and that is no joke.

See the light spots on the bottom?  Those are the 'beds' that get recycled during the year, bass>bluegill>talapia>etc

See the light spots on the bottom int he bottom 1/3rd of this photo? Those are the ‘beds’ that get recycled during the year, bass>bluegill>talapia>etc

I am fishing in and around the Monkey Box, Harney Pond, North Shore area and I found some big hydrilla beds with clean water and bedding bluegill, that is all I can tell you.  Hydrilla seems to be key for me, and I know was key for Brent Ehrler when the Tour was here and he finished 2nd.   And Lord knows I could/should be punching, I just love the challenge of finding swimbait fish.   The bite is way more a flipping bite and pitching jigs at the reeds.  Anyway, I’ve found some bluegill beds (I think) in some thick hydrilla fields, and the water is by far the best black water I have found,  and the water is fishable.  The grass is not topped out  in some pools and you can swim a bait thru it quite nicely.    The 3:16 Sunfish (the Bluegill color is killer too) is a favorite bait of mine. I fish it with a 1/0 ST-36 Owner Stinger Hook, and 65# Braid, M Action 8 footer,  and a Curado 300.  It has a very down the line, nose down swim, which is amazing for a line thru bait with a 45 degree angle of attack between hook and line thru insert in the bait, that you’d think would bias more upward.   The bait does not swim up or plane up, it really keeps its depth and drive ‘right’ on the straight grind.  You don’t have to be overly technical to get the right down the line swim out of the bait, and can stall, snatch and buzz/burn it along too.  It’s just a great bait, and I’m learning that May/June is bed time for bluegill all over the South, including Florida.  You need to be throwing bluegill baits, and the post-spawn time of the bass tends to lead into the bluegill/brim spawn, which tends to be when the heat is setting in, mid Spring style.   I catch fish on the 3:16 Sunfish and 22nd Century Bluegill right now.

Notice the round and honeycomb nature of the bluegill beds.

Notice the round and honeycomb nature of the bluegill beds.

 

The Florida sun has been quite nice lately.  Mid to Low 80s, but the wind has been relentless.  Keeping it simple and setting my boat down 2 minutes from the launch ramp was a good decision.  I 'live' in Lakeport on weekends.

The Florida sun has been quite nice lately. Mid to Low 80s, but the wind has been relentless. Keeping it simple and setting my boat down 2 minutes from the launch ramp was a good decision. I ‘live’ in Lakeport on weekends.

Blood sweat and tears, literally.

Blood sweat and tears, literally.

I have been working hard out there, glad to get a good bite

I have been working hard out there, glad to get a good bite

 

About southernswimbait

professional angler, bigbait specialist, film maker, blogger, writer, marketing and sales specialist, surfer

2 Responses »

  1. Chris Jenkins says:

    Its funny, anything watermellon works down there. Yeas ago I was with a guide on Toho fishing the drawdown. I broke out a Lunker City Fin-S soft jerk bait that was white on the bottom and black on top. Thats what most anglers would consider to be a “Natural” color. It looks like a baitfish in otherwords. Well, the guide said “I would not even waste my time throwing that”. Instead he advises me to use a watermellon color fluke. To me the watermellon fluke looked like a chunk of broken off hydrilla floating through the water. Not natural and not very visible in my mind. Well low and behold the bass crushed the fluke. So from then on, every soft plastic I used was watermellon. I did punch mats with a black and blue BB Cricketmade by Gambler Baits, but you get the picture. I see your swimbait color in the picture and also see you have adapted. Finding the right water down there can be tough for swimbaits. I fish a lake here in Va. that is a flooded valley. Standing trees in 20 feet of water. Trees everywhere. Two 16 pounders have come out of this lake and there are some real mules in there. Its next to impossible to throw swimbaits in though. The big fish are deep now and even if you do hook one, your chances are slim of boating her. I just wanted to say hi buddy and wish you luck. I will email you to see what your next project is. Let me know if I can help in any way Matt. Chris Jenkins

  2. com says:

    Hey Matt…really good fish…I lived in orangepark FL for 7 years fishing St.Johns river,orange and Loosa lakes and so many other lakes…its never easy to learn a new home lake….stay hot on it you will learn…you are a exceptional fisherman and I have learned a lot about swimbait fishing from you.I guess now I can say thanks for what you do for sport fishing…..okkee is a flipping lake I have caught 11pound fish on the lakeand used to run rattle traps thru the boat trails..I do have a question I have got Me a curado 300 and I like 3:16 baits bluegill which medium 8′ rod ate u using I know you use loomis gl2 bbr with you’re 400 te but with a medium power I couldn’t guess ….thanks scott

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