Afternoons offer anglers best bet

The Central Florida freshwater anglers' fishing forecast for the fourth week of December includes the last-quarter lunar phase which is of medium strength and is increasing as the moon orbits 2,200 miles closer to earth each day until the arrival of the orbit perigee and new moon phase on New Years Day.

In other words from today through the end of the year, the fish feeding migrations will be increasing in numbers of fish and feeding-intensity, daily.

But there will be challenges if you want to catch those feeding fish-yes the privilege of struggling with weather changes can't be denied - if it wasn't for nature's variables I just might get sick and tired of catching bass and we can't have that happening can we.

Today and Monday, I really like the non-challenging weather factors; with mostly sunny skies, temperatures in the middle-to-upper 80s with early morning lows in the middle-to-lower 60s.

The barometric pressure will be declining slowly from 30.06 to the 30 In Hg range due to an approaching low pressure system from the northwest gaining against today's southerly moderate high-pressure winds. However the fish feeding periods have been favoring the middle to late afternoon and midnight anglers, so finding feeding fish in the morning hours has been challenging despite perfect conditions.

But there is a 'silver lining' in those changing clouds; the 'moonset time' has been there to save the morning fishing period. Each of the last two days quality bass have been feeding during the midmorning hours as the moon sets.

It has been a quick feeding period of 30 minutes or so, but huge bass have been participating. For the record, the 'moonset and moonrise periods' are the two pieces of 'good news' during the few days leading up to, and during the beginning of, the first and last quarter lunar phases each month.

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Late Monday and Tuesday there will be a low pressure cold weather front passing through the state. Temperatures will fall about fifteen degrees and the north wind will reach speeds of 10-15 mph. Barometric pressure is expected to drop quickly to the 29.70's In Hg range. Fish will be adjusting deeper as a result, making 'Christmas fishing' all the more challenging.

The major feeding migrations of the day start at 2 a.m. and 2 p.m. today and move later each day by 45 minutes. With the moon half way back from orbit apogee and the daylight hours being the shortest of the year, the feeding migration has been short, lasting about an hour to ninety minutes. However the 'feeding duration' will be increasing daily over the next ten days as the moon's affect arrives at its most powerful state--orbit perigee. A one-in-ten rating should be in the 3-5 range.

The minor feeding migration of the day occurs during the moon set and rise periods, starting at 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. respectively. And the duration should last about ninety minutes with a slight edge going to the morning period. The rating will average 3-4 on the ten-scale.

Christmas Day and Thursday, will be tough fishing days. The day after a cold front is always extremely challenging due to fish adjusting, plus rainfall is predicted late in the day and will continue into Thursday. Might I suggest setting up the new fishing equipment you'll get under the tree or head-out to the bait and tackle store and buy yourself exactly what you 'need' in preparation for fishing this Friday, which is the only day between Christmas and next Sunday that looks like it might produce catches.

Looking ahead to next week and New Years Day, the fishing forecast looks, absolutely perfect. I mean it, if the weather forecast hold true in the slightest, everyone should be catching fish. Next Sunday and Monday temperatures will be in the upper seventies with lows in the middle fifties, and winds out of the north at 6-8 mph with partly cloudy skies. And fish will be feeding during the entire morning period, heavily. Hopefully it will last through New Years Day.

Fishing Fact: During the Florida Bass Spawn Period, a 'sixty-degree range water temperature' acts as the catalyst in triggering bass to spawn. Since our recent weather patterns have not provided constant water temperatures in this necessary range within the traditional shallow spawning areas of our lakes, bass have migrated to deeper areas where the 'ideal temperature' remains constant. Also the southeastern areas of lakes this time of year maintain a colder average-daily temperature and thus bass spawn there first when temperatures keep climbing slightly into the lower seventies every few days.

So if you wonder why you're not finding spawning bass in five feet or less shoreline depths, it's because the water is not consistently cold enough over a five day period. So they're out deeper in the ideal spawning environment.

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