Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World — and Lake Okeechobee is a huge part of the reason.

Sometimes referred to as Florida’s Inland Sea or The Big “O”, Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in Florida and the second largest lake on the continental United States.

With a size of over 730 square miles and with 135 miles of shoreline, the lake is approximately half the size of the state of Rhode Island. Lake Okeechobee is central to a region of Florida historically known for its agriculture, but in recent times also equated with superior fishing, boating and trails. The Lake is conveniently located in the middle of the state, about 40 miles northwest of West Palm Beach, granting easy access to residents and visitors from all over the state. Small towns, orange groves, sugarcane fields, and waterways decorate the flatlands surrounding the 35-foot-high Herbert Hoover Dike, which was built around Okeechobee in 1928 to protect against flooding.

The 152-mile Okeechobee Waterway bisects the lake, and Florida itself, allowing boats to cut across, rather than sail around. Millions of Largemouth Bass inhabit the huge lake, and it has been called the “Black Bass Capital of the World.” The lake is divided between Glades, Okeechobee, Martin, Palm Beach, and Hendry counties. All five counties meet at one point near the center of the lake. Freshwater fishing retail sales in the five counties surrounding Lake Okeechobee were estimated at more than $117 million during 2000.