The 2012 Cabela's Bassmaster Federation Nation divisionals season opens this week, March 28-30, with the Southern Divisional on Florida’s famed Lake Okeechobee.
“March is an awesome time to fish Okeechobee,” said Bassmaster Elite Series pro Bobby Lane before the Elite Series tournament here. “There will probably still be a lot of fish on the beds and some off the beds, and some will be coming and going.”
The Florida pro noted the lake level has been up and the water clear, so he predicts Southern Divisional competitors should find good fishing in all sections of the lake. “The lake is as clear as it has been in five years, and wind doesn’t really hurt the clarity like it used to,” said Lane. “You used to have to go wherever the wind wasn’t blowing to find clear water.”
Most of the fish throughout the lake will be in water less than 4 feet deep and will be susceptible to a variety of lures. Lane recommends trying topwater frogs, small prop baits, buzzbaits and swimbaits in the mornings. On sunny days, Lane suggests flipping 7- to 12-inch Texas rigged plastic worms (black or blue) to the grass.
Okeechobee bass are accustomed to fishing pressure, so Lane advised Southern Divisional anglers to join the crowd when they see several boats in an area. “I remember one time, 170 boats were in the tournament and 136 of us were all in one area of the Monkey Box,” said Lane.
“The guy who won the tournament was there, and everybody who finished in the Top 10 — except one — saw everybody there every day.”
- Forage base: threadfin shad, bluegill and crawfish
- Surface acreage: 467,000 acres
- Average depth: 9 feet
- Expected water clarity: 3 feet of visibility
- Lake record: 15-pound, 5-ounce largemouth
- Dominant structure/cover: cattails, hydrilla and eelgrass