Afternoon sunlight turns on fishing

The central Florida freshwater anglers' fishing forecast for the second half of the first week of December will be influenced by the lunar perigee that occurs today, and a weather forecast that is typical for the late fall season.

The short of it, is that if you're an open deep water angler, you'll likely do better than shallow water shoreline anglers, and that is 'if' cloud-cover prevails over sunny skies. Otherwise, the opposite will occur.

During the Florida fall season, cloud cover and lower water temperatures combine to cause fish to migrate in larger areas, both up and down in the water column and across the underwater terrain.

Oxygen saturation rates are in the ideal range right now throughout the entire lake, unlike during the summer months when isolated areas of thriving vegetation hold the highest oxygen rates. Also low cloud-cover dominates which causes fish to 'feel protected' in the lower visibility that low light conditions create.

Both seasonal factors cause fish to expand their daily feeding migration areas, which makes successful fishing that much harder to achieve. The shallow lakes especially present a challenge due to fish using the deepest water available more often. With the high turbidity levels, visibility is very low and when cloud-cover dominates for days on end, fish move about in much larger areas feeling protected every where they travel.

Shallow lakes have great shoreline vegetation but they also have excellent open water grass beds which hold enough oxygen in the fall season for fish to use them as a standard secondary migration area. For fish to move into the shorelines' thicker vegetation, bright sunlight needs to be present. Once the bright sun reveals their open water protection areas, making feeding up and down the food chain that much easier for them, the fish move into shoreline vegetation for shaded areas that thicker dense vegetation provides for the fish.

Because of this weather phenomenon, shoreline-anglers will have much less success on days of dominate cloud-cover while the open water angler achieves success by fishing where the fish are. Hazy, grey weather conditions with low sunlight are a trolling angler's delight. Fish are along 12 to 20 foot deep breaks and structures and trolling hundreds of yards with the bait bumping the lake bottom, yields the best fishing results.

However once the sunlight breaks through the clouds for any period of time longer than twenty minutes, fish will migrate into thick dense vegetation for better protection from larger predators. If there is deeper, open water tall dense vegetation, they will move there. But if the shoreline is the only place where darker protected areas exist, they will move there.

For this reason, anglers need to have rods set-up for both weather conditions. Long casting and trolling rods for the prevailing cloudy periods, and pitching and flipping rods for bright sunny cloudless conditions.

For the casting and trolling rods, the Carolina-riggings, drop-shot riggings, for plastics and crank baits work well. Working smaller swimbaits around tree-piles also is something that should be tried.

For pitching and flipping rods, the key is to use baits and weights that get the bait into the vegetation areas as silently as possible. If the fish are in a feeding frenzy, bait-splash won't matter much, but usually this is not the case. A silent bait entry into the water's thick vegetation allows the angler to 'place the bait' calmly, naturally, next to the non-feeding fish. This will produce a 'reaction strike' where the fish either attempts to eat the bait for a meal of opportunity, or sucks the bait in to kill the intruder by crushing it, and then blows the pest out in order to resume a peaceful safe state of uninterrupted digestion.

The major feeding migration of the day occurs from 12-5 p.m. for the remainder of this week. This moon phase could work well with the current weather pattern of afternoon sun burning-off some cloud cover to produce good shoreline fishing. Feeding rates should be in the 5-6 range if this occurs. Peak periods will be hard to predict, so "good luck".

The minor feeding migration of the day occurs during the sunrise and sunset, with the amount of sunlight determining where fish will attempt to feed. If there's no morning sun, head to open water structures or be prepared to suffer. With the moon causing fish to feed closer to the sunset period, this will probably be the better time to fish.

Remember, if you don't have this article handy and need access to it by using your internet enabled cell phone you can go online to to access the full article and daily fishing helps that I provide before I leave for the lake in the early mornings.

The weekend is forecasted to be dominated by more, yes, more cloudy conditions. Shoreline anglers should think about perfecting their open water techniques and abilities if clouds prevail. Fish will be feeding during the sunrise and sunset periods mostly,

Looking ahead to next week, anglers can expect more of the same weather pattern and thus more open water fishing will be the key to success.

Fishing Facts: There are more 'cloudy-mornings' during the Florida fall season than any other time of year. For this reason morning shoreline anglers experience low catch rates.

Fishing Fiction: "Bass stay shallow to keep warm during the colder months of the year." Not true because all fish are cold-blooded creatures that don't feel the cold and don't use reason to locate warmer water. They don't leave where they fed during the warmer months, but stay there, albeit deeper during cloudy days and shallow during sunny days. It's the element of 'protection' that dictates where fish hold-up during the late fall and winter seasons, not water temperature.

The reason fish go deeper in the summer is to find dissolved oxygen, not to cool off.

This fishing column and additional fishing information and advice is published online at, or

Dave Douglass is a bass fishing guide and conservationist since 2006 in Highlands County. Website: Phone: 863-381-8474. Email: