I’m really looking forward to fishing Lake Okeechobee next week. Florida’s always been special to me.
It started way back when I was a kid. I’d read Bassmaster cover to cover, and it seemed to me that there was always something in it about giant bass, real monsters, practically jumping in the boat down there. All I could dream about in those days was a trip to Stick Marsh 13.
Years later my first big professional bass tournament was in Florida, unless you count some of the regional events I fished. I remember it for a couple of reasons. It was just after I married Julie. I was going to go to Okeechobee after Christmas to get ready for a tournament, but she’d planned a New Year’s bash at our house.
Knowing what side your bread is buttered on is an essential survival skill for any married man. I stayed for the party, slept a couple of hours, got up early on New Year’s Day and made a 14-hour drive to the lake. That was a long ways in those days, but it was worth it. I don’t remember exactly where I finished, but I do know I did pretty well.
I realized then that I’d have a smile on my face every time I fished the Sunshine State. The deal is that you can catch big bass there, but you can also catch a lot of bass. It’s just good all-around fishing. They don’t jump in the boat like I thought when I was a kid. But if you learn a little something about them you can catch them.
The weather and the environment are a big part of what I like, too. We usually visit Florida early in the year so it’s warmer than anywhere else. I’ve had a few days where I had to wear a rain suit early in the morning but by noon I took it off and fished in a shirt. That’s pretty nice even for a guy who lives in Louisiana.
The environment is perfect for a bass angler, and for a bass. Everything looks like it’s fishy in Florida. There are pads and grass almost everywhere along with cattails and reeds along most of the shorelines. It all looks like where a largemouth bass would want to live if he or she had a choice. You can feel that as soon as you get out of your truck.
That’s not true everywhere. The big reservoirs around the country are productive and great places to fish, but they don’t always look fishy. They look like what they are — big, manmade bodies of water. When you look at them you don’t see a big, green bass doing a tailwalk at the end of your line like you do in Florida.
Let’s get back to next week for a minute. I’ve been looking at the weather forecast. I know it doesn’t always hold this far out but if it does, and if the wind lays down, you can expect to see some 30 pound bags. That has to excite any bass angler or fan.
Florida – I love it!