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Bluegill, shellcracker time arrives at Okeechobee

Posted Apr 12, 2012 by Frank Sargeant

Updated Apr 12, 2012 at 04:30 PM

BY FRANK SARGEANT

Captain Angie Douthit reports from Okeechobee that it’s bluegill and shellcracker time, with the fish moving by the hundreds into shallow, weedy coves to bed. Some good areas to check include Kreamer and Rita Island on the outside grass edges, Observation Shoal, Pelican Bay, Bird Island and much of the North Shore and J&S areas. Live worms are the best bait, and most anglers fish them on small gold hooks. Bass are still biting in these areas as well, though the big lunker bite of spring has slowed. Water levels are dropping, according to Douthit, which can make for dangerous navigation for those who don’t know where the rocks are; http://www.southfloridabassfishing.com.

Captain Mike Shellen also has been hitting the shellcracker beds, and said an incredible wave of them came inshore on the full moon just past. Shellen’s clients caught all they wanted to clean by fishing red wiggler worms right on bottom in the beds. Th next likely big push of the spawners will be on the new moon this month; www.okeechobeebassfishing.com.

In saltwater, Captain Ray Markham said kings and Spanish are everywhere this week, and some of the kings are jumbos. Among the favored baits have been 12-inch Spanish mackerel on stinger rigs. The kings are off the beaches around hard bottom and off the passes, while the Spanish are in the channels and well up inside Tampa Bay. Fish them where you see diving birds, particularly from dawn to 8 a.m.

Redfish are abundant on the flats, Markham said, with good action on tailing fish with the DOA shrimp, and CAL jigs with shad tails or noisy topwaters for larger fish in the holes. Trout and snook are mixed with the reds in many areas; .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Tribune correspondent Frank Sargeant can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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