Local Sports

Afternoon bite begins to improve

The Florida freshwater fishing forecast for the second half of the first week of March favors the afternoon to evening anglers as the first-quarter moon arrives this Saturday and a mild cold front arrives late Thursday night and Friday morning.

This particular moon phase - heading toward the first-quarter - normally produces a great afternoon feeding migration, however since the sun heats up central Florida at the same time, an 'atmospheric pressure change' is likely to develop. If it occurs before the solunar time, the feeding migration starts earlier, and obviously if it occurs in harmony with the solunar time there will be a much higher feed intensity rating for the normal time, and if the occurrence happens later, which is not likely, the feeding bite could start later or the normal time could last longer.

Now, you might not agree with 'moon and weather talk', so let me say then, "Just plan to fish the entire afternoon from noon to dinner time, and you'll have it covered." Some anglers just want to 'go fishing' and not bother with, 'wading deep in the weeds' so to speak when considering fishing - although that is always a good idea when one wants to catch fish.

The weather for the remainder of the week (sitting at my desk late Tuesday morning) looks to be 'ideal fishing weather' for the Florida lakes angler. Every day but late Thursday and Friday has ideal wind speeds and direction. Friday's forecast is predicting west winds in the middle teens for mph as colder air drops the temperatures into a 72 degree high and a 47 degree low.

Thursday's forecast predicts a 70 percent chance of rainfall for some areas of the state, but the Highlands County angler might not see any of that, or very little. Not enough concern I believe to keep him off the lake. Keep an eye on the radar for severe thunderstorms never the less.

As it looks right now, I believe the best fishing days and periods of the next five days will be today during the early afternoon, Thursday during the late afternoon to evening, and Saturday morning early, and during the evening, late. Sunday morning looks to be perfect for putting fish in the boat during the early to mid morning hours.

The major feeding migration occurs today from 1-4 p.m. and will have a peak period from 2-3 p.m. and a feed intensity rating of 6-7. (I am predicting the barometric pressure will spike upward just after noontime for ninety minutes). Thursday due to the approaching weather front I expect these feeding times to move later into the afternoon than what's on my spreadsheet and on the solunar charts and graphs. I'm expecting an active 3-5 p.m. feeding period and a rating of 8 as the weather helps push more fish to feed in unison.

Friday I believe fish will take a break from feeding, due to feeding heavy the day before, and resume normal feeding migration tendencies Saturday morning from 6-9 a.m. and 6-9 p.m.

The minor feeding migration occurs on the 'moonrise' period which happens today at 9:30 a.m. and moves later each day by 45 minutes. My records show for the past three days that the fish begin to feed on the moonrise about 45 minutes before the moon appears on the eastern horizon and ends 45 minutes afterward. I expect this to continue since I don't believe weather factors will change it.

This month's special from HighlandsBassAngler.com is "Bait and Tackle Store Appreciation Month" An angler can have an 'artificial bait half-day bass fishing trip' for $150, which can be for two anglers, and includes my equipment and baits, and gas. All you need to do is bring any Highlands County bait and tackle store's March 2014 receipt of over $30 with you to the boat ramp on the day of the trip to have the discount.

The bass fishing report for last week: The past four days I was out on the lake with two pairs of bass anglers. Both Saturday and Monday's events were tough in the early to midmorning hours, with gar and pickerel biting instead of bass. The baits would come back all torn up or not at all as these species of fish cut the line in half on the hard tug that makes one set the hook.

However by the late morning hours the winds shifted from the predicted weather forecast directions on both days as high pressure developed and 'bass started to adjust' to compensate for the change in pressure upward into feeding areas.

On Saturday the 'bass bite' turned on for two hours from 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. and we boated several bass under 2 pounds at first. Then came the middle-sized bass; four 3-4 pound bass, and one bass at 5 pounds and 6 pounds and finally one at barely 10 pounds.

On Monday again, the bass bite was non existent in the early morning with 'fish with teeth' giving us just cut lines and bait, back on the boat when we set the hook. Finally when we did get the hook on the bass, they 'shook the hook' out of their mouths several times.

Upon arriving at one of my favorite fishing holes, one of my previous clients from last week had just boated a nice ten pound bass and thanked me for showing him one of my big bass fishing spots. We continued on to three more fishing areas, all with no catches to boast of unless you want to count two and three pounders.

However, (I love 'however' in bass fishing stories) on the third pass on the fourth fishing hole we boated a nice 9-pound bass. Another day where the 'big bass bite' made everything worth it for anglers who want to know where the big bass play regularly.

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: davidpdouglass@hotmail.com.