I recently moved from Florida last October, and here's what I can tell you about the Big O
December/January are great times to go, February to March is good as well but December/January is great (pre FLW and most major tourneys).
If you see a white PVC pole coming out of the water, there are cypress stumps around that would love to put a hole in your boat or rip off your lower unit.
You don't have to have a large boat to survive on the big O, but if the winds are blowing over 10MPH you'll wish you had a 21ftr. (we fished out of a phoenix 819 and had no issues with 20-25MPH winds)
If the wind is blowing bad (25MPH+) fish the outer rim aka Rim canals, their is always a population of fish there, but generally speaking, they are smaller quality wise.
Fish-Eating bay (North-West section of the lake) is a great place to start, VERY healthy population of fish there.
if your not around other boats, your probably in the wrong area. Not to say you won't catch fish, but that being said, if your struggling, look for other boats and that would be a good place to start.
Hydrilla, Hydrilla, Hydrilla. Go where the hydrilla is. Eel grass is good at times, especially if it's a transition from Hydrilla to Eel grass. Arrowheads are great too. Anywhere you have a mixture of Hydrilla and another form of vegetation hang on, it is always a great place to get a rod bent.
In the early hours fish high in the water column, fish are looking up, as the Sun gets higher gradually work deeper (in the water column, lets face it, that area is 3-6ft deep).
If it's overcast you can generally keep your moving baits higher in the water column, but keep in mind the sun/clouds will position the fish. If it's sunny you can almost call your spots, they will be in the thick stuff, and anywhere you find little open pockets, aka a grass edge you will get your rod bent. For example, a hydrilla bed with a circular opening netted me 10 fish in about 5 minutes last fall, the opening was about 10sqft.
Don't expect every fish to be a trophy, but there are trophy fish there, so when you set the hook, make it count.
Look for cleaner water, a lot of FL lakes are Tanish (coffee stained in color), but depending on the Veg and the Wind, certain areas will be fairly clear, and some will not. If you don't have atleast 5" of visibility, look somewhere else.
on the note above, if the area your fishing gets murked out through the day, you don't necessarily have to move, the fish are still there, you'll just have to be more thorough.
make sure you have a good GPS, it's easy to get lost in the tracts on that lake.
in the spring months, 4" swimbaits, chatterbaits, speedworms, and lipless crankbaits are good reactionary baits. Otherwise grab your favorite plastic of choice and flip away.
bring a good selection of tungsten weights and peg them according to your preference if your gonna flip. use only the weight necessary based on wind and vegetation penetration. In other words you don't always need a 1-2oz weight. Sometimes a 1/2oz is more than enough, and will catch you more fish based off the fall rate.
Don't just let your bait sink and then if nothing hits on the fall bring it in and flip another spot, actually slowly bring the bait to the surface of the structure your fishing and on a semi tight line, slowly drop the bait to the bottom, bring back to top, and the to bottom. If no bites, proceed to next spot. a lot of your fish will pull the bait down from the top of a mat.
Braid, Braid, Braid if your flipping
as far as guides go, I can't give you any references, I've always just went with my friends.
Good luck and I hope this helps.
Oh, the Big O is fairly remote, not a lot of civilization around the lake.
2017 Phoenix 721 ProXP
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