There’s no shortage of lakes in Florida to drop your boat into, but no lake in the South East holds a candle to the great Lake Okeechobee! Estimated at a massive 730 square miles, few bodies of water hold the vast amount of life, natural beauty or allure as Florida’s largest lake. Home to overgrown Bass, Alligator Gar, Catfish, Bluegill, Crappie, and countless other native species- it is hard to overcome the sense of wonder around you while out on the lake. SA Company Pro Staff Team Member, Captain Joey Berg was kind enough to take the SA Company Team to some of his favorite spots.
We left from the North West Side of the lake out of Roland Martin Marina at about 6:00am. The plan was to prospect Joey’s secret spots just days before the second of three Roland Martin Tournament Qualifiers this year. We started just outside of the marina’s channel and worked our way north east to explore some beds. Later in the afternoon, we began to make our way north, and finish down south to give the team a feel for the activity in each area.
Despite the pristine conditions, the steady bite, and the friendly boaters we encountered on this morning, we couldn’t help but reflect on the danger factor associated with this great body of water. Not only is lake Okeechobee home to a vast array of fresh and brackish water fish, but there’s no shortage of Water Moccasin’s (Cotton Mouth Snake) Pythons, Leeches, Birds of Prey, and countless structural or vegetative boating hazards. Some anglers will even go as far as saying that they believe Bull Sharks can easily make their way into the lake. Did we mention that it’s Alligator mating season!? Normally these docile reptiles keep to themselves and behave as though they are afraid of humans. However, during mating season, not even a 21′ bass boat is safe from a full grown alligator! There are no shortage of fish stories turning into gator stories out there. “This time of year, they’ll swim right up to you and bellow (growl) in a clear attempt to size you and your vessel up to establish their territory” says Captn Joey. Joey even goes on to tell us of the two missing anglers who disappeared around Christmas of last year. Only the boat and a deceased angler was recovered from the lake.
Despite the danger factor, the team had a safe, productive experience on Lake Okeechobee. Joey was able to land a respectable count of about ten Large Mouth Bass; The largest of which weighed in at exactly 8lb. Joey was even able to set up on three Alligator gar in the absolute final moments of the trip. Joey spotted the back of a fish from nearly 30 yards away. Joey’s cast could not have been more accurate, as his frog got bit in just moments. The gar put on a spectacular show just after the hook set. We even met up with fellow pro staffers, Donny Bass and Mikey Keyso Jr. We continued to work the South side through the afternoon until the team made their way back to the Roland Martin Marina to appear in time for tournament registration.
We caught fish, waved to fellow anglers, explored Florida’s most pristine nature, and captured it all on camera for you all to experience with us. Watching all the topwater action was truly remarkable; it was just blow up after blow up all morning long. The nature you will encounter is simply unparalleled; between the birds, the bugs, the snails, the alligators, and the gorgeous sunny day, we felt we experienced the best time outdoors that Florida has to offer. Joey’s buzzer-beating alligator gar was also truly amazing. In fact, landing that Gar encouraged us to stick around for some overtime fishing; where Joey landed his 8lb trophy Bass. Weather you’re just getting started, a real pro, or a novice angler, you simply cannot miss out on this fresh water experience.