Lake Okeechobee is one of the premier bass lakes in the country for fishing early in the year, but it tends to be overlooked in the summertime.
When the heat is on and the water is hot, bass fishing is still good on the Big O for numbers of bass. Largemouth bass are schooling then, so you can catch plenty of fish and an occasional lunker even when temperatures rise above 100 degrees.
Here are five lures from Karl’s Bait & Tackle Shop you should try for summertime largemouth on Lake Okeechobee.
1. Spro Bronzeye Popping Frog
Some of the best action of the day occurs in the early morning so get to your favorite spot before sunrise and start throwing this topwater frog. If the forecast calls for sunny skies all day, the topwater bite will only last about the first hour after sunrise. If the skies are overcast, you can throw the frog all day.
You can throw other hard plastic topwater lures such as walking baits or poppers, but the frog is most productive because it is weedless and can be worked more effectively through the vegetation. Key areas to throw the frog are submerged hydrilla beds and spots where hydrilla mixes with other grasses.
Make long casts into the vegetation and vary your retrieve until you find out how bass want the lure presented. Aggressive bass usually prefer the frog moving so try twitching the bait two or three times and let it sit for a couple of seconds. If bass ignore this retrieve, pop the frog once and let it sit longer to trigger a strike.
2. Strike King KVD Square Bill
When bass are schooling and busting bait on the surface, cast this crankbait to the surface activity. Catching these bass on a topwater lure is more exciting, but the crankbait is more effective because it will cover water quicker and dives to 3 to 6 feet to catch schooling fish at various depths.
The crankbait is also great for running over offshore brush piles where summertime bass also like to hide. The bulky body and stout lip of this crankbait allows you to deflect the lure off of the brush pile without it hanging up in the cover.
3. Missile Baits Ike’s Head Banger Jig 3/4 oz /Catch Co. Saw Craw
If you are seeking a trophy bass, flip this combination to the edges of bulrushes, pencil reeds and lily pads in the early morning and as the sun rises pitch farther back into the thickest part of the vegetation. Big bass prefer slower moving big meals rather than chasing down smaller prey, so this combination of a magnum-size jig and bulky craw is an ideal main course for a fat, lazy bass. Choose jigs and craws in crawfish colors (brown and green pumpkin) or black and blue flake to imitate bluegill, a favorite prey of big bass in the vegetation.
As the jig drops into the weeds keep a close vigil on your line because most strikes occur on the initial fall. Once the jig reaches bottom pop your rod tip a couple of times to hop the lure. Watch for any weed movement to indicate a bass is honing in on your jig and if you don’t see that or get a bite after a couple of hops, reel in the jig and pitch to another target.
4. Biospawn ExoStick
If you want to get more bites in the vegetation, switch to this Texas-rigged stick worm and pitch it to the same targets that you would pitch the jig. You will need a heavy weight for punching the stick worm through thick vegetation so match the lure with a pegged 1/2-ounce sinker. Black blue flake/blue is the best stick worm color for imitating the bluegill bass ambush in the weeds.
The straight Senko style worm works better than a curly-tail worm in the vegetation because it glides through the weeds easier, whereas the curly tail tends to stick to the plants as it swims. You can use the same retrieves as you use for the jig to catch bass in the weeds with the ExoStick.
5. Culprit Worm
A curly-tail plastic worm is hard to beat almost any time of the year on Lake Okeechobee, but summer is a prime time for this bass catcher. Try dark colors such as June bug and red shad to tempt Okeechobee summertime bass.
Use a Texas-rigged worm with a 3/8-ounce weight and a 3/0 or 4/0 straight shank worm hook for flipping the worm to the outer edges of the weeds in the morning before the sun drives bass deeper into the vegetation. You can also rig the worm on a 3/8-ounce swivel jighead for fishing offshore brush piles or in open water for schooling bass.
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