Local Sports

Fast weather changes causes fish movement

The Florida freshwater fishing forecast for the second week of March starts out with a warm recovery from the mild cold front that arrived during the first quarter-moon phase that started yesterday. This warm weather won't last long, however, due to a weather cycle that has minor cold fronts arriving in Florida every six days or so. By Wednesday night another cold front will drop temperatures into the upper 40s at night.

For the next four days the weather will be ideal for early morning anglers to set the hook. With a high of 80-degrees expected today and even higher temperatures expected Monday and Tuesday, water temperatures will remain in the ideal temperature range for catching bass, crappie and panfish - 67-71 degrees.

The best days to fish for the first half of this week will be Monday and Tuesday but the "best time" for a large feeding migration due to an approaching front will be early Wednesday morning. The wind is expected to increase throughout the day out of the southwest and reach speeds in the middle teens for mph, but with barometric pressure forecasted to change significantly before the wind picks-up, the majority of fish species will be on the move to adjust.

Remember, atmospheric change does not make fish feed, but it does make fish adjust their comfort depth levels. This uses energy, which requires food more often than it would with a constant pressure. And since all fish are opportunistic feeders, feeding activity can increase as a result. One thing is sure during atmospheric change, the odds of more fish feeding does increase, sometime greatly and sometimes slightly, it all has to do with how fast and how much pressure change occurs.

I have done the research on the issue of atmospheric pressure change and fish feeding, and with 75-percent of my 294 bass in the eight-pounds and larger category, there was a rapid change occurring in atmospheric pressure. And of those occurrences, 65-percent were at the beginning of a rapid increase and 35-percent at the start of a rapid decrease (during the increase, fish move up in the water column. During the decrease they move down in the water column, sometimes a lot of depth change and at times very little, but they do move).

So now that I've made that point clear, again, let me also make clear that an even mix of cloud and sunshine also causes fish to move more often. Under bright light they move close to protective cover and when there is low light, they move away from protective cover. For me, a percentage mix of sun to clouds of 40-60 respectively, yields the best results.

So if you're adding weather fishing factors together here, you'll see that ideally, when the pressure starts to quickly change significantly, and the clouds arrive to start light level variations - big dark clouds then bright sunlight - that the larger feeders of the species start to feed heavily. All you have to achieve is be in the right location when these weather factors occur, and you'll be creating the best fishing memories of your lifetime.

www.HighlandsBassAngler.com, for the month of March, will be 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 and baits, as well as 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 major feeding migration of the day for the first half of this week will occur from 6-10 a.m. when the moon is underfoot. The peak period will occur from 8:30-10 a.m. I believe, for the next four days. A rating of five to six today is expected but this will increase throughout this week as the moon waxes full by next Sunday.

The minor fishing migration of the day occurs during the moonrise this week. From noon to 4 p.m. will be productive. I expect this period today, to be very good since water temperatures will reach their daily high point at this time. Also if there is a barometric minor increase or spike caused by the intense sunshine, it will also occur at this time.

The second half of this week will trigger bass to spawn, some for the first time and some for the second time this season. The drop in water temperature into the 60s leading up to the full moon period for next weekend will create ideal bass and panfish spawning conditions.

Both Tuesday and Wednesday expect bass to be in a pre-spawn feeding mode, triggered by the weather factors; water temps triggering spawning, and atmospheric pressure change triggering movement and adjustment, all occurring at the same time.

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