Fish go deeper during storms

The fishing forecast for this week will be dominated by a tropical storm and a developing first-quarter moon phase. Out of all the days of July, the next six will be the most challenging for the angler to achieve success. All the various solar and lunar fishing graphs and charts forecast for central Florida the worst 'fish-rating' days of the month. And my fishing records concur for the most part, unless you know where the most populated deep water structures are. As I have stated in previous articles this summer, high water temperatures in the middle 80s and low barometric pressure averaging just above 30 In Hg causes fish to migrate deeper as the 'norm' for the majority of the day. For the majority of anglers who prefer to fish along shorelines, this will make many fishing trips non-productive for quality fish. Now add the tropical storm element and fish will move even deeper, suspending for greater periods of time as barometric pressure drops further. The end result, even the deep structure habitats that have plenty of quality fish on them, won't feed very often or very much when they do feed.
As with all first-quarter lunar phases, the afternoon feeding migration tends to increase which doesn't work well with high water temperatures and low atmospheric pressure. Storm activity adds to the challenge and if there is little to no wind present, well, it doesn't make for comfortable fishing conditions--even five mile per hour winds don't add much relief in 92 degree temps. If there is a 'good fishing period' out of the next six days it will be this morning from safelight to, when the barometric pressure starts to drop the first one or two ticks downward. The faster the drop in pressure, the quicker the feeding bite will end, so hopefully pressure change occurs slowly today. And with a slow decline the feeding bite should really 'turn on' for the entire morning today. Tropical storm Chantal's tracking seems to be moving more westward from early tracking predictions which should mean more rainfall for the Florida Heartland. In the short run this is bad for fishing but in the long run, fishing will benefit greatly from the additional water depths for our lakes. It's been a long time since we had an above average rainy season, so let it rain for the next two months. As I stated, deep water structures are the most productive areas of the lake this time of year. And experience anglers know this and attempt to enhance our fresh water lakes by adding deep water structures such as tree-piles and artificial fish attractors usually made from PVC pipe. However the majority of these ambitious anglers tend to believe they own their deep water structures and are easily offended when other anglers discover them. I am sure many of you have experienced the 'ire of the angler' as you fished a tree-pile only to have another angler display his displeasure in you finding his 'contribution' to the public lake. Every year a couple of anglers duke it out with their boats by running circles around each other, creating heavy wake while making verbal threats and in some extreme cases physical threats of various kinds-like making fake ramming runs at the anchored boat. This unfortunate experience has happened to me too many times over the past eight years and I have found one very effective defense against this type of childish behavior. Take out a cell phone and video the event making sure you get the person's face zoomed-in, up close, as well as the registration number on the boat. If this doesn't jolt some 'sense of maturity' out of the infuriated angler then I move off that area and place a call to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and send them the video. If you do put fishing structures in lakes it isn't wise to own up to it since I do believe it is illegal in the first place. However I know lots of anglers do it, especially since I have found well over 500 such deep-water structures in the twenty lakes I fish each year. Non of them did I put there and all of them are the property of the 'public angler'. While I don't encourage breaking any laws I do appreciate locating productive tree-piles. And frankly, many of or lakes could really use a lot more of them along key areas of the lake's bathymetry - anything to help and enhance the fishery should not be illegal, should it? Lake Jackson is a case in point. With hardly any vegetation on this lake today, angler - supplied tree-piles and fish attractors are exactly what is needed to enhance a fishery that use to have thriving species of fish in large numbers along shoreline vegetation. So if you do put some tree-piles in the lake remember to dedicate that structure to the anglers who use the lake and don't be surprised or upset when you see me pulling monster bass off of your contribution. Heck, I'll even take your picture holding my fish if you want, just before I return them back into the water so you can catch them 'after I leave' The best time of the day to catch fish is from safelight to the midmorning hours. Water temperature is the key and the ideal range is from 78 to 81 degrees and in most lakes that will be at a depth of seven to twelve feet deep. The solar and lunar factors are triggering fish to feed from 1 to 4 p.m. however I have found this to be true only in the deeper type lakes with tree-piles on steeper inclines. And the numbers of feeding fish at this time of day still doesn't come close to the numbers of feeders in the 8 to 10 a.m. hours. Solunar charts have a two to three rating for the next four days as an average rating, however if you find concentrations of fish, they'll be feeding at double that advertised rate. Dave Douglass is a bass fishing guide and conservationist since 2006 in Highlands County. Website: Phone:863-381-8474. Email: