Check out a great weekend in South Florida.
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Over the weekend, some friends who work for Palm Beach County (Florida) tourism invited me to “try bass fishing on Lake Okeechobee.” I laughed and almost blew it off. I’m the third generation of the Gibson clan who grew up fishing and hunting Big O, I taught high school in a community on its shores, and I’ve been part of a long hard fight to see it treated like something better than a sewer. The Corps drowned the vegetation vital to fish production and waterfowl following the 2004/2005 hurricanes. It’s not exactly enjoyable fishing or hunting in places you love when you know how badly they’ve been abused by special interests. Still, rumors of a rebound prompted me to go.
I was stoked to learn that I’d be fishing with Jeff McMillan, whose nephew, Brandon, now a top tournament pro, I taught a decade ago. Few anglers know the lake as well as the McMillan boys. We met at the Belle Glade marina at dawn, and when we ran out into the marsh, my jaw dropped at the sight of the verdant marsh. I don’t think I would have closed my mouth except for all the bugs splattering on my teeth.
We were fishing a few days after the new moon--post-spawn. The fish had moved back to heavy cover along the lake edge. Despite howling winds, we did pretty well swimming Reaction Innovations’ Skinny Dipper paddle tails in the penetration color, as well as pitching and flipping to the cattails.
The next day, my wife Ericka and I went to a St. Louis Cardinals spring training game then hit Spoto’s Oyster Bar for dinner. Bass, beer and baseball. What a weekend!
It seems like all you ever hear about the Palm Beach County area is scandal, corruption and Donald Trump. After spending a day on a reborn Lake O with Jeff, and a day at the ballpark with my wife and 5,000 other normal people, I realized again how lucky I am to live in the region. There really are great people here and more recreational opportunities than you could hope to enjoy in a lifetime, including bass fishing on the lake, golf, a ballgame, the beach and all the saltwater adventure you can imagine—plus some excellent duck hunting—within short drives of each other. For more information, visit Palmbeachfl.com.
We left the ramp in Jeff McMillan’s Big O bass boat right after daylight, loaded for big fish.