Okeechobee: The Heart of Florida

The center of Florida’s circulatory system sits right in the middle of the state. Lake Okeechobee spreads across 700 square miles of freshwater and grass. Oh yeah, and bass. Lots of largemouth bass, some of the largest and most notorious bass in the country, prowl this lake.

Water systems are complicated. Hydrology, ecology, microbiology and a bunch of other ologies dictate how water moves across landscapes and how that water impacts plants, animals, and people. Florida’s water systems are as complex as they get, and the past few decades have shown us the effects of poor water management. The red tide event we covered in last week’s episode, dewatering of the Everglades, sea grass and oyster bed die-offs, cyanobacterial blooms, and a general degradation of some of the best fisheries in the world. It’s a bad deal, but not a lost cause.

On this week’s episode, Das Boat explores Florida’s watery heart with MeatEater’s own April Vokey and big bass specialist Oliver Ngy. Neither of these two have ever fished Okeechobee before, so they have a lot to figure out, and they employ the help of our friends at Captains for Clean Water to better understand this lake, its fish, and what it all means for Florida’s water. We recently teamed up with the guys from CCW and the artist Ed Anderson to make some badass fishing shirts that you can buy here.

We have bass, bycatch, a little friendly competition, and a basic explanation of a very complex problem.