Punching Lake Okeechobee for bass is always epic and one of the most techniques when fishing for trophy largemouth bass. With Florida spring coming it’s time to brush up on our punching skills and lay out some of the inside details from fishing rods and reels, baits, terminal tackle, and fishing tips for where – when – and how to target bass in heavy vegetation.

On Lake Okeechobee the best time of year to use this fishing technique is from October to April – basically what most people call winter is an elongated spring pre-spawn period for fish. This means waves of bass staging and spawning throughout these months and punching is a great way to target them. in the vid we highlight how to fish for bass in emergent vegetation like cattails, bully whips, and lily pads, as well as mats like hydrilla, penny wort, and hyacinth. If you want to learn how to punch for bass it’s all right here.

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What’s the gear in the video? You can find it all below

Reel Shimano Curado http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Shimano_Reels_Casting/catpage-RLCSHIMANO.html?from=mkfish

Camera – GoPro Hero 5 Black http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/GoPro_HERO5_Black_Camera/descpage-GPB5.html?from=mkfish

Reins Tungsten http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Reins_TG_Tungsten_Slip_Sinker_Heavy_Weight/descpage-RTGSS.html?from=mkfish

Dobyns Champion Extreme MH 795 http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Dobyns_Champion_Extreme_HP_Full_Handle_Casting_Rods/descpage-DCX.html?from=mkfish

Power Pro Slick 65lbs Braid http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Power_Pro_Super_8_Slick_Braided_Line_Timber_Brown/descpage-PSBT.html?from=mkfish

Gambler Megadaddy http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Gambler_MegaDaddy_5pk/descpage-GMEGDAD.html?from=mkfish

Gambler Crawdaddy http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Gambler_Crawdaddy_4_10pk/descpage-GBCD.html?from=mkfish

Hack Attack Flipping Hook http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Strike_King_Hack_Attack_Heavy_Cover_Flipping_Hooks_4pk/descpage-SKHAFH.html?from=mkfish

Gambler BB Cricket http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Gambler_BB_Cricket_3_12pk/descpage-GBC.html?from=mkfish

Gambler Burner Craw http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Gambler_Burner_Craw/descpage-GBNC.html?from=mkfish

Gambler Why Not
http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Gambler_Why_Not_7pk/descpage-GWN.html?from=mkfish

6th Sense Bobber Stoppers http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/6th_Sense_Peg_X_Stoppers_9pk/descpage-6SPEG.html?from=mkfish

Double Weedguard Jig http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Gambler_Double_Weedguard_Jig/descpage-GDWJ.html?from=mkfish

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Crazy square bill and jig fishing on a private Florida lake in the scorching summer sun! Charlie and I whack over 20lbs of Florida strain largemouth fishing mid depths on a sunny calm day out on the lake. Charlie told me there were giants in here and he was right! We only fished for 4 hours and caught some big fish even a 5lbs bass on while the drone was flying! It’s always fun hanging out with friends and hunting for big bass and that’s what happened today. We even found a sunken canoe with treasure bass on it! It’s always an adventure going out on Florida lakes with the potential for big bags – the week before Charlie caught 2 30lbs limits in one day! That’s insane, flat out!

Conditions: partly cloudy, upper 80’s and calm

MAKE SURE TO LIKE AND SUBSCRIBE, TELL YOU FRIENDS AND HELP ME OUT TO GROW THE CHANNEL!

Reel Shimano Curado http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Shimano_Curado_200_I_Casting_Reel/descpage-SCI.html?from=mkfish

Mustad Triple Grips (Change your hooks!!!!!) http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Mustad_KVD_1x_Strong_2x_Short_Triple_Grip_Treble_Hook/descpage-MKVDEST.html?from=mkfish

Camera – GoPro Hero 4 http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/GoPro_HERO4_Silver_Camera/descpage-GPS4.html?from=mkfish

Sunline FC Sniper http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Sunline_Super_FC_Sniper_Fluorocarbon/descpage-SLFCS.html?from=mkfish

GoPro Shoulder Mount http://amzn.to/2lkPI0t

Floral Hat http://amzn.to/2oASb5H

Lapel mic http://amzn.to/2q6VUZB

Re Fuel Gopro Battery – 6hrs of Action http://amzn.to/2q4mYdC

SD Card for all day http://amzn.to/2q4mFPS

Hummingbird Sonar http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Humminbird_Helix_9_Sonar/descpage-HX9.html?from=mkfish

Gambler Megadaddy http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Gambler_MegaDaddy_5pk/descpage-GMEGDAD.html?from=mkfish

Square bill crankbait http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Strike_King_KVD_HC_Square_Bill_Silent_Crankbait/descpage-SKKVDHC.html?from=mkfish

 

Donny Bass and I finished 2nd in the Roland Marin Marine Series Tournament on Lake Okeechobee doing what we love to do – punching heavy cover for big fish! Full day video and weigh in, all the deets and all the fish using big tungsten weights to target big bass on the bass capitol of the world Lake Okeechobee.

One of the best tournaments in Florida paying over $5k for the win. We managed 2nd place thanks to some awesome punching and flipping fish staked up in the mats. Go to baits was a Gambler Crawdaddy and Why Not (links below), heavy braided line, and heavy action fishing rods.

Conditions: sunny with partial clouds, highs in the 80’s and fish staging up to spawn.

Caught it all on video with the GoPros, another epic tournament finish with my friend Donny Bass make sure to check him out https://www.facebook.com/donny.bass.3

Products and cams in the vid!

Reel Shimano Curado http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Shimano_Curado_200_I_Casting_Reel/descpage-SCI.html?from=mkfish

Camera – GoPro Hero 4 http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/GoPro_HERO4_Silver_Camera/descpage-GPS4.html?from=mkfish

Floral Hat http://amzn.to/2oASb5H

Reins Tungsten http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Reins_TG_Tungsten_Slip_Sinker_Heavy_Weight/descpage-RTGSS.html?from=mkfish

Gambler Crawdaddy http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Gambler_Crawdaddy_4_10pk/descpage-GBCD.html?from=mkfish

Dobyns Champion Extreme MH 795 http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Dobyns_Champion_Extreme_HP_Full_Handle_Casting_Rods/descpage-DCX.html?from=mkfish

Power Pro Slick 65lbs Braid http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Power_Pro_Super_8_Slick_Braided_Line_Timber_Brown/descpage-PSBT.html?from=mkfish

Music creds 2 tracks from Meluran!

Fishing for bass with hair jigs is awesome. This is not me generalizing, this is not a conventional video. This is my experience on the water using hair jigs to target offshore bass on Florida lakes.

I’ve caught a lot of fish over 7lbs using hair jigs. I only need 2 sizes, 5/8 and 3/4. I’m usually targeting largemouth bass in 13-30ft of water and those weights, even with wind and current, tend to cover all the fishing bases. Color wise, it’s simple – white. I prefer Gambler’s JTK Hair Jig which comes in a Shad color that basically incorporates white with a touch of olive green which is perfect for mimicking shad and other bait fish. If there’s one huge key to the fishing technique that I’ve found in the past 2 years it’s that a hair jig is the perfect hard bait fishing tackle for targeting suspended fish. Fish anywhere from 2 feet to 12 feet off the bottom. It takes some practice to dial in the retrieve and keep the bait in the strike zone but when things come together you’ll know you’ve figured it out!

All the stuff in the video is available through the links below. Make sure to LIKE and SUBSCRIBE to keep the vids rolling!

JTK Hair Jig http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Gambler_Hair_Jig/descpage-GHJG.html?from=mkfish

Camera – GoPro Hero 4 http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/GoPro_HERO4_Silver_Camera/descpage-GPS4.html?from=mkfish

Sunline FC Sniper http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Sunline_Super_FC_Sniper_Fluorocarbon/descpage-SLFCS.html?from=mkfish

GoPro Shoulder Mount http://amzn.to/2lkPI0t

Floral Hat http://amzn.to/2oASb5H

You need this graph – Lowrance 12 Ti:
http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Lowrance_Elite_12_Ti_Sonar/descpage-LET2.html?from=mkfish

Reel Shimano Curado http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Shimano_Curado_200_I_Casting_Reel/descpage-SCI.html?from=mkfish

Powell Max 3d 7′ Cranking Rod
http://www.tacklewarehouse.com/Powell_Max_3D_Crankbait_Casting_Rods/descpage-3DCC.html?from=mkfish

As spring hits in your region fish move to their annual spawn making some of the biggest fish of the year very targetable.  I love sight fishing – the game-like process of tracking down fish that are locked on at just the right time and juggling to find more is a total rush!

Fist off, key triggers that signal bedding bass: new moon or full moon cycle (usually best a few days before each); 3-5 day warming trend; water temp (this one is regional, in South Florida it’s usually low to mid 70’s however the further north you go the cooler that temp range will be).

Arsenal of baits can vary but I prefer plastics like the Gambler Why Not, Burner Craw, or Mega Daddy.  I also love to throw tubes at bedding bass – especially in Florida since it’s not something they see very often.  My got to bait to get a fish started however is a white stick bait – watch the vid for more sight fishing bait details:

I run a pretty standard sight fishing equipment setup.  I’ll usually have 2 7′ rods one a medium, the other medium-heavy.  High-speed Shimano Curado I and 14-20lbs Sunline Flourocarbon.  Texas rigged setups with 1/4-3/8oz Eco Pro Tungsten and an Owner Wide Gap Hook 4/0 or 5/0.

What’s the strategy?  The way I approach sight fishing – when the environment is telling me they should be on beds is I commit to it 100%.  What does that mean, that means when I’m sight fishing I’m not even regular fishing.  Trolling motor is turned on high, polarized glasses on, and looking until you see the right size female.

It’s a tough process to explain but here are a few vids that really show off the process and the time it takes:

Been catching a lot of fish cranking of late… catching as well as losing a lot of bass on them.

The vid above really emphasizes the focus you have to put on equipment and terminal tackle when  you’re trying to closing the deal on crank bait fish.  It’s been a learning experience and in the end there’s no 100% land-rate way around crankbait fishing especially deep cranking;  but factors like changing out your hooks to Mustad KVD Short Shanks and going with a high quality, low stretch, low diameter flourocarbon like Sunline FC Sniper as well.  On 6XD style baits I’ll go with straight 10lbs test however when going up to 10XD sized baits I’ll use 12-14lbs.

Another big key when deep cranking has been equipment.  When throwing cranks like the Strike King 6XD, 10XD, and other so called “mag-diving” cranks the right rod is essential.  Your standard 7′ composite stick just doesn’t cut it anymore on baits that can run, casted, to almost 27′.This kind of cranking takes a longer beefier rod.  On 6XD’s and 8XD’s or baits that run down to 21-22ft up to 1.25oz I run a Powell Max 3D 804 CB.  When going up to the gigantic stuff like a 10XD or greater I’ll turn to a Powell Max 3D 7115 CB.  Both rods offer a bit more beef but still a moderate classic cranking style action to allow the fish to do the work when hooking up.

Reels are pretty simple.  I like my Shimano Stuff such as the Casitas,  Curado I, or Chronarch reels.  Speeds are key; on 6XD style baits a standard  6:2:1 is what I opt for so I can get the bait down quick and retrieve the bait fairly quickly.  On the 10XD however I do go for a slower reel – something like a 5:2:1.  The added power helps crank that beast down and also keeps it down.

I’ve bee catching some stellar fish approaching  bass with spoons.  In Florida that’s not the most common thing but it’s all about approaching water with an open mind and the right setup.

I’m running my standard sized spoons on Powell Max 3d 795’s and a Lews Speed Spool with 20lbs Sunline.  The setup gives enough tip to play the fish and at the same time get the right action out of the spoon when fishing it in 15 to 30ft of water.  These fish are targeting large gizzard shad and the presentation really plays to those bigger bass when they’re staging in late winer to come up to spawn!

 

With fish schooled deep an a-rig has also come into play;  specifically a Picasso School E Rig set up with Gambler Little EZ’s mixed with EZ Swimmers.  The trick has been to slow roll and drop retrieve keeping the presentation near the bottom up to 5ft off the bottom as the fish are podded and relating to shell and small ledges down deep.

Florida is not usually the place to implement structure fishing however you can’t argue with the quality of fish that I’ve stumbled upon out deep.  Definitely make you rethink the Florida situation and how big bass set up for the spawn in late winter.

Check out the vids and see what you think!