The Florida freshwater fishing forecast for the last week of January will give anglers challenging winter weather due to the week of the new moon being in orbit perigee. The new moon arrives on Thursday along with the perigee, which means the strongest lunar fishing effect possible will be triggering fish to feed during the sunrise, midday, and sunset hours of the day.
Today through Tuesday, winds will be out of the west, north, and south respectively in the three day period. With temperatures in the mid-70s until late Tuesday afternoon, fish will be feeding in larger numbers than has been the norm of the past few weeks. There is a threat of rainfall for Monday and possibly Wednesday.
Late Tuesday night and into early Wednesday, a cold front will drop temperatures back to the 55 to 32 high-low degree range. Strong north winds prevail at speeds in the middle teens gusting to 20 mph.
The major feeding migration of the day over the next three days will be from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. with a peak period occurring as the moon is overhead - 8:30 a.m. today - and moving later by one hour daily. Today through Tuesday I expect the feeding duration to be about 90 minutes with an intensity level rating of seven to eight on the 10 scale.
The minor feeding migration occurs from 3-6 p.m. today through Wednesday and will move by about 50 minutes later each day. The feeding duration might be about 40 minutes with a intensity rating of five.
The second half of this week promises to warm up quickly, gaining six degrees each day, in both high and low temps. By the last three days of this month, afternoon fishing should be excellent with fishing factors similar to today's factor profile.
HighlandsBassAngler.com has been updated with a new "Maps" page that provides about 50 lake contour maps, mostly with boat ramp locations marked but some without. So whether you have a boat or not, you can know what areas of the lake offer the best chances for catching quality fish. The Istokpoga.info web page also has updated weed treatment information and hydrilla status
Last week's bass fishing trips report features two full day events on Lake Istokpoga. Both days started with temperatures in the mid-40s and by the end of the day, there will be a high temperature of 70 making for some comfortable fishing. Water temperatures started at 59-degrees and climbed slightly by the end of both days to 61.
Barometric pressure drops throughout the day from 29.95 In Hg to 29 In Hg and a westerly wind climbed from five mph to 20 mph by the afternoons on both days. The bait of choice again was my favorite Yum Dinger 7-inch black and blue worms with Gambler Texas Rig Rattling Goop bullet weights 1.4-ounce on No. 65 braided lines, in yellow, brown, and green colors. Owner heavy gauge offset worm hooks in 5-7/0 sizes were used to change the fall speeds slightly and add a different swim action to the baits.
Both days yielded almost identical results, with bass sizes between 20-22 inches which translates to four to six pound catches. All bass were feeding during 9:30-10:30 a.m. on both days, with two six pound fish, three four pounders, and six pound behemoth. Both days also produced a half dozen Gar strikes that cut the worms cleanly in half. On the second day, a Bowfin (Mudfish) that looked to be 30 inches put up a fight like a 14-pound bass.
The bait action that produced the strikes was a very slow "walk the dog" type retrieve of the worm on the lake's bottom, through heavy to moderately thick pencil reeds with five to seven feet of depth. A pause of five seconds with a "walk" of one to two feet, followed by a pause of three seconds, repeated, proved to be most successful. The pause was executed each time the bullet weight came in contact with a reed base. With the rod tip just above the water's surface, the hook-set was easily achieved with either a sideways or upward motion, whichever seemed easiest in accordance with the weed-lay patterns.
The largest bass of the two days was in a pre-spawn feeding mode with a girth almost the same inches as the length of 22. I didn't weigh her but I know from experience that she was a heavy six pounds. We handled her with great care and released her where she took the bait. With a bass that is ready to spawn, I use the known net dimensions to approximate her size (24-inches across, 30-inch long net) and release them as quickly as possible, not even stopping to take pictures - if she was over ten I would click off a few pictures.
Lately there have not been many smaller or larger bass in the shallows or along the outer edges of the deeper vegetation on the lake. Middle sized bass however are in abundance for short windows of opportunity which I attribute to the colder water temperatures.
Fishing Facts: As a cold front arrives and starts to drop the water's surface temperature, bass move deeper to the warmer water areas; usually half way between the deepest part of the feeding migration route and the shallowest part. Once the cold front settles into the area, the cold surface area descends down to the depth of the same temperature. Bass will not reverse this weather migration adjustment until warmer weather switches the middle to upper sections of the water column with a two to three degree increase.
Fishing Fiction: Bass get lock-jaw when a cold front arrives. While it is true that bass feed less often as temperatures drop, they do still feed when they have to. However they move deeper, not shallower, and feed at depths of eight to 15 feet. As always, the standard rule still applies, which is, the bait must be presented at the right depth and at the right speed for bass to either strike as a reaction, or to feed out of need.
Dave Douglass is a bass fishing guide and conservationist in Central Florida. This column can be accessed in full at BassFishingForecast.com and FloridaBassFishingForecast.com. Main website: HighlandsBassAngler.com Phone: 863-381-8474. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org