Florida Freshwater Fishing
Bass – Bluegill- Shellcracker – Crappie
(up to 3 passengers)
Half Day (4 hours)
Full Day (8 hours)
(up to 5 passengers)
Half Day (4 hours)
Full Day (8 hours)
Pay $50 now with your debit or credit card.
Balance not due until the day of your experience.
learn more about RGS Flexpay
Fully Equipped Boat
tackle, rods, and reels
The fine print… gratuities, license, and live bait are not included.
Let’s Go Fishing
Everyone remembers their first fishing trip. Sunny days out on Lake Okeechobee hoping to catch a “big one” is a special time shared with children, parents, and friends. Ron’s Guide Service offers half and full day trips with the most experienced guides in Florida who know the lake like a dog knows fleas! Our fishing trips were one of the very first services we offered and are proud to have anglers from all over the world come fish with us for over 30 years.
Freshwater Fishing Capital of the World
Lake Okeechobee is most famous for its largemouth bass. Crappie, bluegill, and shellcracker also dominate this international fishing destination. Lake Okeechobee is Florida’s largest lake and the second largest body of fresh water in the contiguous United States. The word Okeechobee comes from the Seminole Indian language “Oki” (water) and “Chubi” (big) and means “big water.” These early Floridians chose the name well. Vast surface area (730 square miles), shallowness (averaging only nine feet deep) and enormous habitat diversity makes the ecosystem unique on the North American continent. The lake is a multiple-use resource, which supports valuable commercial and sport fisheries, provides flood control, and acts as a reservoir for potable and irrigation water for much of south Florida.
A Florida fishing license is required for everyone 16 to 64 years old. Children 15 years of age and younger are exempt. Adults 65 years and older are also exempt. A non-resident three day freshwater fishing license is available for $17.00 and can be purchased at the meeting location. If you wish to purchase your license in advance, you can do so via the FWC by phone, online, or from any Florida hunting and fishing retail outlet store like Walmart. The fishing license is issued immediately after purchase but a hard card is also available for $4 extra and takes additional time to ship.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
1 (888) 486-8356
2101 South Parrot Ave
Okeechobee, FL 34974
7:00 AM 2:00 PM (Fall/Winter)
6:00 AM 2:00 PM (Spring/Summer)
Half day 4 hours full day 8 hours
Bring the kids!
Young anglers are always welcome…
Ron’s Guide Service is kid friendly! There is no age restriction when it comes to fishing. Most of our young anglers are around six years old.
Recommended Fishing Time
“When is the best time to come?” Is the foremost question Ron’s Guide Service is asked by every angler planning a fishing trip on Lake Okeechobee. Ron’s Guide Service has been providing fishing services since 1985 and we would honestly have to say that there really isn’t a bad time to go fishing on Lake Okeechobee. Lake temperature is a big part of your success rate. Panfish such as bluegill and shellcracker are abundant during the spring and summer months when the water temperature is 68-75 degrees. Crappie is best during winter months when the water is 52-60 degrees. Bass fishing is great year round!
We offer half day and full day trips. Half days consist of four hours and full day trips can last eight hours. We do make rest stops on our full day trips, especially during summer months when the fish get sluggish in the afternoon from the heat.
Some folks combine an airboat tour, wild boar hunting, alligator hunting, or another of our exciting experiences with their fishing trip. Check out our value packages page for ideas!
Fishing with Live Bait
Fishing with live bait is by far the most productive and sure shot method for a successful fishing trip. We recommend fishing with shiners if you are bass fishing. The beauty of using shiners is that you don’t have to be a fishing “angler of the year” to really experience the thrill of fighting trophy size bass. Shiners cost $12.00 – $16.00 per dozen depending on the market. A party can expect to use 4 to 5 dozen shiners for a half day of bass fishing and 6 to 8 dozen shiners for a full day of bass fishing. If you choose to bring live bait with you, other popular baits for Largemouth bass include Chubs, Bream, Shad, and large earthworms. Panfish such as crappie, bluegill, and shellcracker are versatile feeders, eating most types of insects, worms, small crayfish, and minnows. If you are unsure of what kind of live bait to purchase, your fishing captain will assist you.
Fishing with Artificial Lures
Artificial lures are included in your trip and can be combined with live bait. If you choose to bring your own artificial lures, the most popular for Largemouth Bass fishing include weedless plastic worms, spinnerbaits, weedless spoons, topwater plugs and, in open water, swimming plugs. If you are pan fishing, spinners and poppers are a great choice for shellcracker, crappie, and bluegill.
What to wear?
Pants Are a Good Start!
During warmer months, generally between March and October, pack comfortable, lightweight clothing to help keep you cool during the day. During the cooler season, bring an assortment of short-sleeved and long-sleeved clothing items, as well as a lightweight jacket or two because temperatures often fluctuate from day to day during the winter. You will not need any special footwear, sneakers and rubber boots will do just fine! If you are an attractive gentlemen, Lisa recommends wearing no shirt. Especially when taking a picture holding up your catch of the day. Please email those photos to Cousin Lisa directly.
Big Boats and bigger boats!
Merrier the More
Ron’s Guide Service believes it makes no difference whether two people are fishing or three which is why we do not charge per passenger – our rates are per boat. We use a variety of vessels depending on party size, fishing style, and preference. For families with kids we recommend our pontoon boat which is more spacious and can accommodate up to five passengers (not including your captain). Experienced anglers will prefer bass boats which allow us to get into tight spaces and banks on the lake. Our bass boats accommodate up to three passengers per boat (not including your captain). For large groups we can take out multiple boats making it one big party on the lake!
Bass and Bluegill and Shellcracker and Crappie, oh my!
A Variety of Fish
Lake Okeechobee holds stable populations of bass, crappie, shellcracker, bluegill, channel catfish, gar and a host of other freshwater fishes.
Fishing Bag Limits
Bag limits for freshwater fishing are published and enforced by the FWC. All bag limits for fishing listed here may change without notice, but our fishing captain is knowledgeable and fully aware of all statewide and local fishing bag limits. We will help you make the most out of your trip without breaking any bag limit laws.
-The daily bag limit for black bass is five, no shorter than 18 inches in length and only one of which can be more than 22 inches in length.
-The daily limit for panfish such as bluegill and shellcracker is 50.
-Crappie less than 10 inches in length must be released, and the total daily limit for black crappie is 25.
More detailed information and species can be found on the FWC’s website, here.
Florida Largemouth Bass
Average length: 18″
Average weight: 6 lbs.
The largemouth is the largest member of the sunfish family. It generally has light greenish to brownish sides with a dark lateral line which tends to break into blotches towards the tail.
Spawning occurs from December through May, but usually begins in February and March in most of Florida when water temperatures reach 58 to 65 degrees and continues as temperatures rise into the 70s.
Largemouth bass is very difficult to clean, must be skinned if you plan on eating it, and can be quite bony. Typically bass will taste like the water they come from, Okeechobee water is murky with algae and mud, so largemouth bass from the the lake will taste like mud and algae. It is not a recommendable fish to eat for this reason.
Average length: 6″
Average weight: .5 lb
Bluegills have small mouths and oval-shaped, almost rounded, bodies. Body coloration is highly variable with size, sex, spawning, water color, bottom type, and amount of cover. In general, they are somewhat lavender and bronze with about six dark bars on their sides. Males tend to have a copper-colored bar over the top of the head behind the eyes. The breast is silver to slightly blue most of the year, with some yellow or orange during spawning season. Females are generally lighter colored than males. Two distinctive characteristics are the prominent black spot on the rear edge of the gill-cover and a black spot at the base of the posterior portion of the dorsal fin.
Spawning occurs from April through October with the peak in May and June, when water temperature rises to about 78-80 degrees. Warmer than usual lake temperatures affect spawn times, please contact us to see what fishermen are reporting.
Bluegill are also considered panfish. Smaller ones are very good with the skin on but scaled; so are big ones, if filleted and skinned rather than scaled. Cornmeal, fry oil, and a frying pan make the perfect combination for this light and protein-packed fish!
Average length: 8″
Average weight: 1 lb
Technically known as the redear sunfish, the shellcracker is similar in shape to the bluegill, but lacks the dark spot at the base of the posterior portion of the dorsal fin and has a red or orange border around the “ear” flap. The body coloration is light olive-green to gold, with red or orange flecks on the breast. The breast of a mature shellcracker is typically a rather bright yellow. The body is heavily spotted and they have long, pointed pectoral fins. Five to 10 vertical bars are more or less evident on the sides, depending on the size of the fish. Males and females are similar in appearance, although the male is generally more colorful.
Shellcracker spawn when lake temperatures are about 68-75 degrees. Late March through August are great months for shellcracker fishing. Shellcracker will move into their feeding areas as early as late February depend on the weather. They will begin spawning beds as early as late March, however, if water temperatures remain low throughout March then expect shellcracker to concentrate for spawning between the second and fourth weeks of April. One rule of thumb is to wait until the fist new moon in early March to catch them feeding in the lily pads.
Shellcracker makes for excellent table food since the meat can be a little sweet and flaky. It can be prepared in virtually any way, but the best method, as with other panfish, is breaded and pan fried.
Average length: 8″
Average weight: 3 lbs.
The black crappie is a silvery-green to yellowish fish with large dorsal and anal fins of almost identical shape and size. The sides are marked with black blotches which become more intense towards the back. The dorsal, anal, and caudal fins also are marked with rows of dark spots. Crappies have compressed bodies, small heads and arched backs. It has a large mouth with an upper jaw extending under the eye.
Spawning occurs from February to April when water temperatures reach 62 to 65 degrees, warmer winters where lake temperatures are higher than 65 degrees affect spawn times, sometimes pushing spawn as early as January or as late as May.
Crappie is excellent for consumption, and is considered a type of “panfish” for this reason. Black crappie tastes best when pan fried, deep fried, or breaded and sauteed. The meat is firm and flaky.
Fish cleaning is not a service that our fishing guides provide due to time constraints, but there are often men offering fish cleaning services at the dock.
Fishing on Lake Okeechobee has been a major source of food and recreation for thousands of years. The lake itself is 6,000 years old! From 100 A.D. until about 1700 A.D. the lake has been used by native Floridian Mayaimi people, followed by the Mayaca, then the Spanish, and of course modern Americans for the last 125 years. Fishing has been integral part of human history on Lake Okeechobee, particularly bass which have been here since the Mayaimi were fishing for the first 17 centuries A.D.!
Throughout the last century a number of political and economic decisions have been made that affect fishing on Lake Okeechobee including real estate developments, canals, levees, and agriculture. The drought of 2007 led to drudging mud from the bottom of the lake to increase the lake depth, but this only led to the discovery of toxins in the lake mud from agricultural pesticides and industrial runoff. Most recently in May 2016, an algal bloom at the southern end of the lake led to high levels of toxins in the water. Fishing is still considered safe from Lake Okeechobee, since over 30% of the 1 trillion gallons water from the lake comes from rain and rivers. The Florida Fishing and Wildlife Conservation Commission exists to help keep the lake waters habitable and clean. Purchasing hunting and fishing licenses is a historical way of helping fund conservation of Lake Okeechobee, and fishing has been a way of keeping fish populations regulated.
A Tip From
Make it a full day adventure with Captain Ron’s ROmp in the Swamp package!
Know before you go
with Cousin Marie…
Our freshwater fishing experience does not guarantee you will catch fish.
Come Sober or Don’t Come at All
With the exception of beer, No other alcohol is allowed to be consumed on our freshwater fishing experience. If you are unable to come sober, please don’t come. You will not fish and you will forfeit your reservation deposit.
Leave the Outdoor Adventure to Us, the Rest Is up to You!
We will help with planning your experience, getting you where you need to be, and making sure you have a great time. Where you stay and what you do after your RGS experience is completely up to you! Ron’s Guide Service does not provide shipping, taxidermy, lodging, or professional butchering. Our staff can offer recommendations and resources, but we are not responsible for the quality of service you encounter with other businesses.