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A Day on the Water with Matt Herren
Mark Vos

I was excited to be fishing with Matt as I knew that he has done well on Okeechobee before and looked forward to our day of fishing. Matt had told me to pack light because we were going to be fishing shallow. The forecast for the day was for sunny skies early, turning to cloudy with the wind picking up later in the day. Each day of practice had a different wind direction so many anglers were keeping a close eye on the weather. On Okeechobee, it is important to find clear water. A lot of guys were looking for fish in the canals because the lake was down quite a bit and most of the popular areas for fishing shallow were actually on dry ground or too shallow to get to. Matt stated he didnít like to fish that way, and he had found some fish shallow. It is important to fish your strengths.

Photo: FLW Outdoors

Take off was at 7 am, and we headed for a spot not to far from the take off site at Roland and Mary Ann Martinís Marina on the western side of the lake. The water was very shallow and as soon as we came off plane, the motor dug into the bottom bringing the boat to an abrupt stop. 

Once Matt got the trolling motor going, we began fishing the outside edge of a field of scattered grass. There were already a few boats working there, and we saw one angler boat a small keeper. The wind  had already started blowing pretty good, and we didnít stay more than about 20 minutes. Matt had found fish here in practice by swimming a jig and by pitching a reaction innovations sweet beaver but no takers on this day. 

The water was so shallow that we idled for about 50 to 75 yards before we could even try to get up on plane. Once the boat was on plane we made a run to another spot farther north on the western side of the lake. This area had the same type of water and again Matt made a quick decision to move. He knew the wind was coming from the wrong direction, and thus changing things for these spots. 

We made a longer run to the northwestern side of the lake, a popular spawning area. The area was more protected from the wind and the water was clearer. We began by working a boat lane that cut through the grass. Matt would cast his jig in the grass focusing on the edge of it. He was popping the jig and moving it pretty fast. It didnít take too long for Matt to connect and his first keeper was in the boat. Matt worked back and forth between the boat lanes swimming his jig and when we would come to thicker grass or a clump of reeds he would pitch his sweet beaver to it. As he worked the area he boated his 2nd keeper from a clump of reeds. 

As we worked north through the boat lane, we came to a spot where 2 lanes intersected.  Matt had a couple fish boil at his jig; then he finally connected with a monster. It was working him pretty good with his rod doubled over. After fighting him for a couple minutes the fish got off. The hook on his jig had been straightened out, it was a big fish! Matt didn't seem to let this bother him and he immediately went back to work. Another big fish soon hit but didnít connect. 

We worked this general area for sometime before moving on and Matt did catch another small keeper on his black and blue jig. We then returned to the spot where he missed the big fish, and he caught another keeper. There were definitely fish holding in this area.

After sometime we began to work our way back into the shallower water Matt had hoped to fish. With the livewells full of water and some fish in the boat we were unable to get to the area. Matt caught a couple more small keepers in this general area by flipping his sweet beaver to reed clumps. With a little more than an hour left we headed towards the south end to check an area. The wind had changed directions again, and this area was getting hit pretty hard. Matt did catch a couple of smaller fish and ended up catching about 7 or 8 keepers during the day. He stated that in practice he could go along the edges of the grass and catch a small limit pretty easily but the weather had definitely changed and it was tough for almost everyone on this day. His five fish limit weighed in at 8lbs for the day.

I saw Matt as a very focused fisherman and he made very quick decisions throughout the day. He concentrated on fishing his strengths. It came down to simply needing 1 or 2 big fish, he definitely had the bites he needed but was unable to get them in the boat.

Matt is from Clay Alabama, He runs a Yamaha powered Skeeter and is sponsored by.Reaction Innovations, Minn Kota, Humminbird, Kistler rods, Gamma line, Davis jigs.