Fish early to beat rain

The fishing forecast for central Florida freshwater anglers this week includes the end of the full moon phase which started yesterday and a normal rainy season weather forecast of afternoon to evening scattered random storms. In other words, if you can fish during the mornings you'll be uninterrupted by storm activity, otherwise bring rain gear and be prepared to get to 'safety' in the event of a severe thunderstorm. During the Florida summers, fish generally feed during the time of day when water temperatures are coolest and therefore despite lunar phases and stormy weather patterns, fish feed in regular intervals. Each day fish form a major feeding migration within the best areas of the lake and also when conditions are best for each day. And the 'less successful feeders' of the major feeding migration also attempt to feed again within the next 12 hours, when it is again, that the most favorable conditions prevail, such as just after the sunset. So for those of you that check Bassmaster magazine or Field and Stream magazine, or other online websites offering solar and lunar fishing times and graphs (solunar charts), don't allow those 'fishing help' sources to stop you from going fishing.
When the charts forecast a fishing rating of three or four it doesn't mean you won't or can't catch fish in large numbers, it is very possible to put a lot of fish in the boat because fish are opportunistic feeders and eat when they have to. But don't get me wrong on this; the solunar charts are a good place to start 'your angling thinking' about how and when fish will feed on the day of your fishing trip. And believe it or not, it is true that when those sources say fishing will be better, like during the new moon and full moons and during the lunar perigee, they are correct. I have kept a fishing Excel spreadsheet on all bass over four pounds since 2005, and fished exactly the same methods and baits on all days of the 28-day monthly cycle, and have found that those fishing helps do forecast correctly overall, and are far more accurate than any weather forecast source is about the probability of rain, wind, and sun. Now, what those 'solunar charts' indicate is that fish feed much heavier during two 'five-to-seven day periods' per month, and therefore much easier to locate and get on your hook-just like people migrate to the food store to buy foods and supplies before a major storm event. And as is the case at a Fenway Park baseball game, if there is heavy rainfall during the time of the game, very few fans show up to wait-out the weather. And conversely if weather conditions are ideal the stadium is full. These types of people migration patterns are exactly like what occurs with fish feeding environmental conditions. Lunar activity has the largest influence of all fishing feeding factors, both positive and negative. The closer the moon is to the earth the more fish are affected by the specific phases of the moon. And without getting to technical or scientific about this, when the sun and moon cross-sect their specific annual affects during certain times of the year, fish move in unison in larger numbers and feed at the same time of day. Again, I have seen this play out in real-time journaling for almost nine years. So when the sun and moon are not influencing fish to form into large numbers to feed at the same time and in the same areas, what is the feeding migration pattern if any that the fish form? Well, it's simple, when a fish is hungry it 'attempts' to eat. This is not always an easy task, especially when all the other members are not feeding, or the larger majority of its potential food-source species are not feeding at that time. When a fish is not feeding they suspend within the water column, in a digestive state with others of their species. And when one is attacked and eaten they all scatter and hide within cover, which they always suspend over. Depending on how smart the feeding fish is, determines on how successful the feeding effort will become. Since all fish are operating on a 'need to feed' influence, few fish feed at the same time. Thus when a fisherman enters this type of fish feeding pattern they have a much larger challenge in getting the fish to strike. It will occur in few numbers at a time, if at all, and rarely in moderate to large numbers. Thus the lower rating forecasted in the solunar charts, and in this fishing column, attempt to forecast this feeding phenomenon. Learning the techniques that put bait within the digestive suspension zones over the longest distances, will increase the chances of discovering a fish that needs to feed. Using the Carolina-rig and the drop-shot technique accomplishes this bait presentation. And perhaps, trolling instead of casting puts your bait within the areas where fish suspend more than any other technique. Using GPS way-points or floating markers once you start getting strikes also aids in perfecting the exact technique required to succeed. The major feeding migration of the day occurs during the early to midmorning hours and will have a feed rating difficultly of five or six today. Thursday through Sunday you should expect that rating to decline by a half number per day as fish begin to feed more sporadically-no specific pattern. This is the one time of day when fish will be along shoreline feeding areas. The minor feeding migration of the day occurs at dusk and won't be easy to find because it will be within the secondary deeper suspension zones which are deeper and out away from shorelines where the hottest water temperatures of the day occur. Dave Douglass is a bass fishing guide and conservationist since 2006 in Highlands County. Website: Phone: 863-381-8474. Email: