by Ron Presley
The big bass weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces and was no surprise at all to Brian Prowant who was my guide for the day. Prowant is a tournament angler and well know in the area for his ability to catch big bass.
The 8-pound plus bass was a great end to the morning's fishing.
My road trips are normally six hours plus, but this one was just over two hours to Glades, County FL. I had never traveled that short of a distance to catch such a trophy fish. Odds are I will be returning, not only for the fishing but the hospitality.
The occasion was the First Annual Glades County Sportswriters Invitational Tournament. A baker’s dozen of outdoor writers enjoyed two days of fishing on the celebrated waters of the area. In addition to the fishing we enjoyed many of the amenities that the Lakeport, FL area has to offer.
The county borders the west side of Lake Okeechobee and includes about 60 miles of shoreline. I’ve often heard that the west side was the best side. The lake is famous for the size and quantity of its big bass, but its not the only reason to visit.
Highway 27 crosses the Caloosahatchee River at Moore Haven, Florida, just below the Moore Haven Lock and Dam. Near the lock and dam is a public boat ramp and access to 60 miles of Caloosahatchee River frontage and plenty of good fishing.
Moore Haven Marina and a public boat ramp
are located near the HWY 27 Bridge.
As anglers motor out from the boat ramp they pass the Moore Haven Marina. It is a great place to stop on the way out for bait, gear, ice, etc. On the return trip it’s a great stop for a cold drink and clean restroom facilities.
The New Haven Marina is operated by Capt. Robert Power. He also operates a guide service in the area. Stop by and he will share a little local knowledge and point you in the direction of the bite.
Glades County fishing can only be described as awesome. Big bass and crappie are the name of the game, but a good number of catfish exists for those that are so inclined. When it comes to catfish, they don’t fish for trophies, they fish for the dinner table, and they been eating’ pretty good. Glades County is also one of those places where anglers catch tarpon and snook right alongside trophy bass and dinner sized catfish.
Fishing the Monkey Box
On day one all the sportswriters were paired up with a local angler to try their luck. The volunteers were made up of recreational anglers, guides, and tournament anglers. It was all about fun, but a little competition was thrown in to keep it interesting. Everyone was instructed to weigh and record the bass that they caught.
Prowant navigated to a fishing area know as The Monkey Box. It is a shallow body of water with lots of natural grasses. The water was a little high and much of the vegatation was covered.
“That looks like open water,” advised Prowant. “Believe me, its thick and grassy below the surface. At normal water levels you would see a lot more than we see today. It’s great habitat for the bass.”
Prowant holds one of many nice bass of the morning.
Since I don’t do bait casters he graciously prepared a spinning rig with a dark blue Senko worm. He offered a few instructions on how to fish it and returned to the deck to operate the trolling motor and fish.
The bite was slow and steady. We caught bass up to 4 pounds plus all morning. As the scheduled time to meet for lunch approached a hard-hitting bass ate the Senko. I knew immediately it was bigger than anything we had caught so far.
After a few minutes of fighting the large bass and keeping it out of standing structure it came alongside the boat. Prowant reached down and lifted the huge bass, and equal amount of grass, into the boat.
“That’s gonna’ be at least a 7-pounder,” guessed Prowant as he reached for his scales. “What do you think it weighs?”
“I will go with your guess of 7 pounds,” I replied.
“It weighs 8 pounds 7 ounces,” offered Prowant as he read the scales.
The big bass was the final fish of the morning and gave us bragging rights for the lunch gathering back at Harney Pond Canal Boat Ramp.
Fishing the Caloosahatchee River
Fishing for day two was scheduled for the Caloosahatchee River out of the Moore Haven Marina. We had learned that the river would produce some good bass, but also offered the possibility of tarpon and snook.
Personally, I chose to do a little catfishing. I was paired up with a local angler who had been catching a few of late. Devin Whidden is a fifth generation local with a plenty of knowledge of the area. I will chronical our morning catfishing adventure in a future issue of Catfish NOW.
The remaining anglers hopped aboard a boat with a new guide for day two. A few tackled the river with fly rods while other used conventional gear.
Brian Cope caught this 5 pound Caloosahatchee River bass on a 10-inch Gambler worn in Junebug color. Photo courtesy of Brian Cope
South Carolina anglers, Brian Cope and Jeffery Burleson (South Carolina Sportsman), fished with Prowant, who I had fished with on day one. They reported a good day of fishing the river while taking advantage of recent rains.
“We didn’t fish anything but the culverts,” reported Burleson. “The recent rains had them spilling into the river. We just ran from one culvert to another. We caught quite a few fish for the day.”
Other anglers also reported good catches of bass on the river. In fact, Georgia angler Jimmy Jacobs reeled in an 8 pound 10 ounces monster. Jacobs was fishing with long time area anger Sam Heaton.
That fish, along with others that Jacobs caught earned him the plaque for Top Angler of the event. His day one guide, Steve Daniel, was named Top Guide.
Honnerlaw's snook bit a deep diving crankbait.
Photo courtesy of Debbie Hanson
Debbie Hanson (SheFishes2.com) was fishing the river with local guide Bryan Honnerlaw. He tossed a deep diving crankbait off a point and caught a nice snook. Hanson reported walkin’ the dog with top water baits to score some nice river bass. She even added a giant 8-pound plus tilapia.
Each of the other writer/anglers reported good catches on the river. Other writers included Ray Markham, Larry Larsen, Polly Dean, Steve Waters, Ralph Allen, Tommy Thompson, and Butch Newell. All caught bass.
Rain had threatened our fishing activities but never really hampered them. We did eat a catered lunch under a roof at the Moore Haven Marina as the rains decided to come. It was a great opportunity to relive the morning, tell some tales and enjoy the lunch provided by Cafe 27 of Moore Haven.
The first night in Glades County featured a welcome reception and dinner at the Seminole Casino Brighton. The hospitality and the food were awesome, and a few gamers even won some gas money. The casino was only a few miles from where we were staying at Rockport Lodge.
Evenings two and three were spent at Northlake Estates and RV Resort. A fish fry with all the trimmings on the first night and a grilled steak dinner on the second night ended each day in style and gave everyone an opportunity to meet and greet local community leaders. The writers were welcomed by event organizer, Jeff Patterson and Moore Haven Mayor, Bret Whidden.
You don’t have to be an angler to enjoy Glades County. The area offers miles of paddling trails on Fisheathing Creek and other nature-based tourism opportunities for birders, boaters, hunters, and other outdoor enthusiasts.
For more information on Glades, County visit the website at visitglades.org.
For more information on local guides you can contact them directly.
Okeechobee Just 4 Bass
Capt. Scott Kerslake, and Capt. Rob
Lake Okeechobee Outdoors
Capt. Brian Honnerlaw
863-885-2230 or 239-560-2704