In the middle of south Florida is a 730 square mile dishpan of water that is full of largemouth bass, and many of them are giants. It's the favorite winter destination for Bassmaster Elite angler and One More Cast television show host Shaw Grigsby. "January and February is the time to be on Okeechobee. Bass spawn early in Okeechobee, so you are fishing for pre-spawn, spawning, and post-spawning bass at the same time. Fish anyway you like," explained Grigsby, justifying his choice of fishing venue.
And how does Grigsby like to fish Okeechobee?
His #1 pattern is fishing topwaters in the reeds and emergent grasses. "You can catch a ton of fish, and nothing beats the excitement of a monster bass blowing up on a topwater," exclaims Grigsby. Grigsby looks for areas of reeds or grasses open enough to wind a buzzbait or a soft plastic buzz frog like a Strike King Rage Toad. The same topwaters as well as poppers, chuggers, and walk-the-dog baits will also draw strikes from big bass by fishing holes and the irregular edges of hydrilla mats.
Pattern #2 is fishing a swim jig in the scattered reeds and grass. Grigsby fishes the swim jig horizontally like a spinnerbait—slowly winding the jig 2- to 3-feet deep with an occasional twitch—but then kills it to drop into holes. He usually opts for a ¼ ounce Strike King swim jig dressed with a black/blue Rage Craw to get a slow fall into holes where a giant bass may be lurking or on a bed. "You never know what you are going to catch, but there is a good chance it will be big."Pay attention to where you get bites to up your efficiency.
Pattern #3: Big stick for big bass. Look for the thickest, nastiest cover around and punch a 1- to 1½ -ounce tungsten sinker over a small flipping bait like a small Strike King Rage Craw. Use a stout hook and 65 pound braid. The nastiest cover is usually rolled up matted hydrilla or other vegetation that has been torn loose by storm-driven waves. Nirvana is if you see clean-bottom areas next to the mat. There's probably a big girl nearby.
Okeechobee Bass Fishing
Tom Mann Jr.
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