Fishing Lake Okeechobee
Locations > Central > Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee can make a fun day trip for the avid freshwater angler.
Lake Okeechobee is the second largest body of freshwater in the contiguous United States and the largest lake in Florida. This lake is in the Everglades and flows into Collier County. The lake encompasses 730 square miles and averages 9 feet. There is a 100 yard wide rim of canal that circles the lake and many secondary canals providing hundreds of miles of water for fishing. Millions of Largemouth Bass inhabit the huge lake, and it has been called the "Black Bass Capital of the World."
About The Big "O"
Lake Okeechobee, The Lake or The Big "O" as the locals call it, is the largest freshwater lake in Florida and the second largest lake on the continental United States. The Lake is smack dab in the middle of the state granting easy access to residents and visitor from all over the state.
With an average depth of only 9 feet (3 m), what it lacks in depth it makes up for in size with over 730 square miles (1,890 km²), 135 miles of shoreline, and is approximately half the size of the state of Rhode Island.
Lake levels vary by season, the lowest in the winter dry months, and during the summer wet season the lake fills rapidly and water is release annually to keep water from overflowing the lakes banks.
A well-maintained paved pathway sits atop a 100-foot (30 m) wide dike that surrounds the majority of the perimeter of the lake. Largemouth Bass, Crappie and Bluegill are the most common fish in this lake, with Pickerel less commonly caught.
Getting On the Lake
Knowledge of the water and best "spots" are secrets charter fishermen hold and keep tight lipped on to preserve their businesses. If you are just visiting and want to fish this famous lake, I would suggest hiring a guide for the day to insure a successful trip. If you are local, learning the sweet spots comes with time spent on this large lake.
There are many boat ramps, fish camps, and marinas around the lake. Visit the US Army Corp. of Engineers website which has a great list of public boat ramps with pictures and maps.
Here is a map showing each area and if you enlarge to map you will go to the Google Maps page that has details on each location. Try one, try them all!
View Lake Okeechobee in a larger map and description of all the access ramps around the lake
Also see our Boat & Kayak Launch Directory
Fishing Lake "O"
Catch-and-release fishing is practiced on this lake, but you can keep up to five bass per day with a size limit of 18-22 inches. Only one bass may be kept over 22 inches. Always check the regulations before fishing this highly regulated lake as they may change.
Bass in the lake seldom exceed 12 pounds, but there are millions inhabiting this large lake providing non-stop action.
Equipment for bass fishing varies from light spinning tackle to the heavy duty flipping rods. Bass fishing on the lake with wild Shiners is the preferred bait for trophy Bass, because it happens to be the natural food that they feed on daily, although artificial lures and floating frogs work well too.
CONSUMPTION ADVISORY: Relatively low levels of mercury in largemouth bass have been found to occur in Lake Okeechobee and in canals throughout southwest Florida. All individuals should follow Department of Health (DOH) guidelines. Florida Fish Eating Advisories
Fishing the Lake by Boat
Using a bass boat with a trolling motor is the most common way to fish this large lake. Motoring up to small stands of peppergrass and other vegetation that had grown up around brushy areas on Lake Okeechobee brings the best results.
Navigation at normal water levels is generally hazard free. At low water conditions, that's another story. Many lower units are damaged on submerged rocky areas. Also, because it is shallow, Okeechobee can "blow up" in a hurry. White caps can cause concern for those having to run in such conditions. Hundreds of boat trails crisscrossing vegetated areas offer an escape from wind-whipped open water when caught in a sudden thunderstorm.