As the largest freshwater lake in Florida and the second largest lake in the contiguous United States, Lake Okeechobee, or the “Big O,” is well known as a famous bass fishing lake. The quantity and quality of bass pulled out of Lake Okeechobee has given it a reputation for producing the biggest and best largemouth bass in Central Florida. Other popular fish species found in this lake include crappie, bluegill and pickerel.
Some Factual Tidbits
There are two primary ways to fish Lake Okeechobee: artificial lures and wild shiners. Wild shiners are the preferred bait on the “Big O” because it’s the natural food that the bass feed on daily. With artificial lures, you have the choice of spinning and bait casting or fly fishing, flipping and pitching.
Sometimes referred to as Florida’s inland sea, Lake Okeechobee is about 37 miles long by 30 mile wide, totaling over 730 square miles with an average depth of about nine or ten feet. Historically, this lake has always been an important part of the ecosystem and was a vital food source for Native Americans. In fact, Lake Okeechobee got its namesake from the Seminole Indian language “Oki,” meaning water, and “Chubi,” meaning big, so Okeechobee in the Seminole language literally meant “big water.”
The Local Area
Although fishing continues to be the main draw of Lake Okeechobee, the local area provides a great selection of non-fishing activities to keep visitors to this area busy. Discover the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail (LOST), part of the Florida National Scenic Trail, a well-maintained paved pathway made for cyclists and hikers that circles the majority of Lake Okeechobee’s perimeter atop the 35-foot dike that provides breathtaking elevated views of the lake.
This trail can be accessed from the town of Clewiston, known as “America’s Sweetest Town” because of the lucrative sugar cane crops and the annual Sugar Festival held in April. The Sugarland Express, a 24-passeger bus tour, offers tours from October through March that give you an up-close and personal look at sugar cane farms. Chop and chew fresh sugar cane right out of the fields and view the latest farming techniques before your journey continues to the Clewiston sugar mill, where the sugar is refined for the marketplace.
Other local activities to try out around the Lake Okeechobee area include the Wagon Wheel Horse Farm, Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, and Seminole Casino Brighton. Click here for more information on other local attractions and accommodations.