About Lake Okeechobee Lake Okeechobee, or The Big O to local residents, can be found in South Florida. Only two hours from Walt Disney World and central Florida, Lake Okeechobee provides many important roles for the South Florida community including providing flood control, acting as a reservoir for irrigation water, and is a favorite location for commercial and sport fishing. After a hurricane in the early 1900’s caused horrible flooding and loss of life in the area, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a dike around the lake that is 20 feet high and 100 feet wide. This, and the manmade Okeechobee Waterway, helps control the boats that come in and out of the lake, as well as the water levels. Lake Okeechobee pumps a large amount of water into the Everglades lying to its south and is often referred to as the heart of Florida and the Everglades. Other waterways that flow into Lake Okeechobee include Fisheating Creek, Taylor Creek, and the Kissimmee River. Stemming from the Seminole Indian words “oki,” which means water, and “chubi,” meaning big, Okeechobee literally means “Big Water.” This name is fitting for the second largest freshwater lake in the continental United States and largest freshwater lake in the southern states. Lake Okeechobee covers 730 square miles, which is only a little smaller than Rhode Island, spans 33 miles North to South and 30 miles East to West, and holds 1 trillion gallons of water. Despite its size, the lake is relatively shallow with an average depth of only 9 feet. Fishing in Lake Okeechobee Fishing is, by far, the most popular recreational activity on Lake Okeechobee, both for sport and commercially. Lake Okeechobee is known worldwide for its large popular of high quality largemouth bass. While largemouth bass are the most common fish found in the Big O, there are also abundant amounts of catfish, bluegill redear sunfish, and black crappie to be caught on Lake Okeechobee. The Big O is a plentiful home for fish for many reasons, the largest reason being the aquatic plants under its surface. The plants found throughout the lake are not only a home for the fish residing in Lake Okeechobee, but act as a place to hide from predators and provide important nutrients for the herbivorous fish. Despite the abundant plant life in Lake Okeechobee, the management of vegetation is often disputed in order to preserve water quality and flood control. Current fishing regulations on Lake Okeechobee include a bag limit of five for largemouth bass and a bag limit of 25 for black crappie. Only one largemouth bass may be 16 inches or longer per day per fisherman and black crappie under 10 inches much be released back into the water. Other Recreational Activities on Lake Okeechobee Besides fishing, there are many other recreational activities that are popular on Lake Okeechobee. The dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee is part of the Florida Trail that spans 1,400 miles long, a National Scenic Trail, and includes a paved pathway for hikers and bicyclists. Alongside hiking and biking, camping and sight-seeing the protected wildlife that inhabits the lake and its surrounding areas are other great ways to pass the time on The Big O.