Last week I started this series of documenting the preparations I’m taking to prepare for the Florida B.A.S.S. Nation State Championship on Lake Okeechobee. One of the things I mentioned was the research I would be needing to do prior to even putting the boat in the water. The hard part about researching for a tournament a few months in the future is none of the local guides or fishing reports currently being posted are going to apply at all three months. So here’s how I do it. First, there’s a pretty good website I’ve used in the past called BassGold.com. Bass Gold will take the historic winning patterns for a given body of water and apply them to times of year. However, I find it useful for bodies of water such as Lake Amistad or Falcon in Texas, but getting a result similar to “Main Lake Structure with Reaction Baits” does little to no help on a body of water like Okeechobee. For those of you who haven’t fished it, it’s a whole new experience altogether and to truly understand what I’m talking about you’d have to fish it. So in lieu of Bass Gold, what do I have to do for Lake Okeechobee? I start by looking at historical fishing reports for the past five years (I say five years because unfortunately, before then information online is scarce). I look at those reports from the past five years in October and there is a lot of really good information. There are descriptions of what the patterns were on late cooling years, years where the summer was plagued with low water like this year, and years when the bass were “on schedule” per se.
The best sources of this type of information is found in one or two sentences of the top guides in the area. The guides make a living off of getting their clients on fish, so if you think you’re going to find precise information in their reports you’re wrong. However, that doesn’t make these reports any less value. You will get a generic region and a general idea of where to start searching for fish. They’re also pretty accurate about what baits their using, especially if they’re trying to get some good content for a sponsor or promotional partner. I then take the information I learned in those historical reports and start breaking down the lake into general regions I am going to begin my search for the winning fish. What these reports can do is show you generic trends over the years that allows you to eliminate a lot of water. So now I have the areas I want to work in mind. Personally, I have three that I am probably going to be focusing on more than any others. That’s based both off of what I learned in the reports and which areas of those I feel comfortable enough to adjust as necessary
given the weather. The hardest part of that thought process though, is one of the areas is a 26 mile run across the open lake to get to. If the weather goes bad, and it’s prone to do in October on Okeechobee, then getting there can be tough. Very doable in my Bass Cat Boats Puma FTD, but if I don’t have to fight 5 foot waters for 20+ miles, I’d prefer not to.
So if you’re traveling on a vacation set in your bucket list fishery, or you’re going to be fishing a tournament of champions, use historical fishing reports for the season you’ll be fishing. You will find there are a ton of nuggets in those reports that will help you a long the way.