Local Sports

Challenging fishing week ahead

The Florida freshwater fishing forecast for the last full week of March would be the best week of the month for fishing due to the moon's natural affect on fishing factors. However, the weather forecast for the week, if true for Highlands County, will be dominated by a 50-90 percent chance of rain almost daily; we can only hope the second half of this week's forecast changes to the better over the next few days.

Normally, with an ideal weather forecast, fishing would be the very best this week since the moon's orbit is reaching its perigee on Thursday, three days ahead of the arrival of the new moon next Sunday. The week prior to the new moon is always very good for morning anglers especially when a lunar perigee precedes it.

Today for instance the moon will be directly overhead 30 minutes before the sunrise, at 7 a.m. and 7:25 a.m., respectively. This combination of celestial influences will produce a very strong early morning feeding migration. And the good news is not done yet: it will also create an excellent midday feeding migration as the moonset occurs 30 minutes after the sun is directly overhead at noon.

During this week the moon's activity will move later in the day by 55 minutes daily, which means the morning feeding migration will be very good leading up to the new moon a week from today.

This Thursday's lunar orbit perigee will produce the strongest lunar affect of the month because the moon is closest to earth on that day. The moon will be overhead at 10:45 a.m. that day, meaning just when the fish are starting to slow down from the sunrise period, the moon overhead period will keep the feeding intensity stable all the way to the sun overhead period at noontime.

But, as I stated previously, the "weather factor" will throw the proverbial monkey wrench into the works, potentially interrupting the celestial timing and alignments as atmospheric pressure change overrules all fishing factors on a daily basis. Remember, the bottom line rule of thumb is, atmospheric pressure change is what fish respond to more than any other factor. It is the "trigger point" so to speak, of approaching weather change, and fish respond to it by adjusting their position in the water column.

And as I have said many times previously, when the barometric pressure changes, fish adjust. And when fish adjust, they expend energy. When they use energy, they need to feed more often. Thus a higher percentage of fish feed at the same time than would otherwise occur if there was no pressure change. Translation for the angler: more fish are catchable. How many more, well no one knows that answer. But if it means one more large bass in the boat, I like it.

The major feeding migration of the day today is from 6-8 a.m. with a peak period from safelight to full sunup. The feed intensity rating will be in the six to seven range today and should hold true for the first half of this week. Remember each day this migration period moves later into the morning hours by 50 minutes or so.

The minor fishing migration of the day occurs today from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and will have a feed intensity rating of five to six during the peak period from 10-11 a.m. Likewise, this feeding period will also move later into the day by 50 minutes daily.

For the month of March, I have been promoting "Bait and Tackle Store Appreciation Month" by giving anglers artificial bait half day bass fishing trips for $150, which can be for two anglers, and includes my equipment, baits, and gas. All you need to do is bring any Highlands County Bait and Tackle Store's March 2014 receipt of over $30.00 with you to the boat ramp on the day of the trip to have the discount.

The bass fishing report for the past week had no large trophy bass but five-seven-pound bass were the daily norm. Two seven, one five, and four three-pound bass were caught on Wednesday. Three seven, one five, and five two to three-pound bass were caught Thursday. Also both days there were several bass lost immediately after the hookset, due to a poor hookset and the manner in which bass were not aggressively striking the baits.

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