Okeechobee dream trip meets expectations

Larry Woody • Updated Jul 26, 2013 at 11:03 PM

Fishing for bass in Florida’s legendary Lake Okeechobee is every fisherman’s dream, and for Wilson County’s Eddie White and son Taylor it was as good as advertised.

Eddie, an administrator at Trevecca Nazarene University, took his son on a trip to Okeechobee following his graduation this spring from Wilson Central.

“Taylor will enter the University of Tennessee this fall, and I decided this would be a good time for us to make the trip,” said Eddie.

He contacted Okeechobee guide Mark Shepard, a professional fisherman with a reputation for knowing Okeechobee’s vast waterways.

“Okeechobee is the second-largest lake in the U.S., approximately 35 miles wide and 40 miles long,” Eddie says. “The lake is on the northern end of the Florida Everglades and serves as the main source of water flow for the Glades. Guides work out of the northern end from the city of Okeechobee and on the south end out of Clewiston. Our guide preferred the southern end of the lake since there are more small islands that serve as barriers against the wind. The size of the lake means that wind is an issue, especially during the summer months.”

Eddie and Taylor met their guide at first light and set off.

Success wasn’t long in coming.

“We began fishing at the end of a grass flat that protruded into the lake,” Eddie says. “There was a rock ledge drop-off at the end of the flats and Taylor caught a nice bass on his first cast.”

They spent several hours working the area and caught numerous bass in the two-pound range, casting crank baits that had been crafted by their guide.

Along with its giant bass, part of the enchantment of Okeechobee is its abundant wildlife. The anglers observed alligators bobbing on the water, and discovered an eagle’s nest along the shoreline.

Later in the day the wind picked up and the fishermen moved into the tall grass where the water was from one to four feet deep.

They switched lures, casting and retrieving plastic crawdads through the grassy shallows.

“We caught several nice bass, including two in the five-to-six pound range,” Eddie says.

Then weather became a concern.

“Mark continuously watched the cloud formations that moved on and around the lake,” Eddie says. “Sudden storms with dangerous lightning are a serious problem on a lake the size of Okeechobee.”

Sure enough, a storm suddenly blew in, forcing the fishermen off the lake.

“It brought our day to an earlier end than we’d planned, but not before we experienced the wonderful world of Lake Okeechobee and some of the huge bass that lurk in her warm waters,” Eddie said.

In addition to landing some big bass, the Whites brought home lifetime memories of a dad and son sharing a unique outdoors experience.

That beats any trophy hanging on a wall.

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