Okeechobee, FL – Jentry Griffen is just 12, but he already knows what he wants to do with the rest of his life. His dreams are closely tied to lake Okeechobee, also known as the “Big O.”
Not only is it the largest freshwater lake in all of Florida, it ranks seventh in size in the United States. The lake is shallow, on average just nine feet. It isn’t unusual to hear or see air boats roaring through the reeds, their great spinning fans stirring the water’s surface, kicking up spray behind them.
Jentry has often fished with his grandfather. He’s ready to go whenever he is asked. But he says he also knows the shoreline and weed beds intimately because he paddles a canoe from end to end of the lake whenever he has the opportunity. Okeechobee is a bit more than 35 miles long.
What does he use for bait? “Just about anything,” he says. And what does he catch? The list is long: Bass. Bluegill. Pike. Catfish. Tilapia. Speckled perch. Stump knockers, shell crackers, and more.
It was a windy day when he talked. He pointed out across the open water, noting that the nearest boat coming towards the shore was his grandfather’s. I left convinced that someday he will achieve his goal as fishing guide.