Local Sports

Fish early, late for best results

The Florida freshwater fishing forecast for the second half of the first week of June includes the first-quarter lunar phase, which occurs today, and a typical rainy season weather forecast. All fishing factors considered the next four days will provide excellent conditions to go fishing in the early mornings and late evenings.

The lunar phase enters the last-quarter today which puts the moon underfoot period 43 minutes after the sunrise — 7:12 a.m. and 6:29 a.m. respectively. This celestial combination will increase the early morning feeding migration’s duration and intensity causing fish to feed heavily during the period of ‘safelight’ (5:50 a.m.) to an hour after the sunrise 7:30-8 a.m. today.

Likewise, the ‘moon overhead’ period occurs approximately 12 hours later at 7:34 p.m. and will trigger fish to feed 43 minutes before the sunset occurs at 8:17 p.m. Anglers can expect an evening feeding migration to occur from 6:30-9:30 p.m. today.

Both feeding migration will move later daily by about forty-five minutes.

The minor fishing migration of the day occurs during the moonrise period that occurs at 1:16 p.m. During the past three to four days this lunar period has produces feeding fish an hour before, and lasted for about ninety minutes to two hours. I expect this trend to continue.

With water temperatures now at the summer norms, 80-85 degrees, fish will be travelling further during the feeding cycle each day. Before the water temperatures climbed into the 80 degree range, fish could feed and digest comfortably in the same area and depth. Now however, fish, especially the larger species like bass, will have to move into shoreline areas to feed and return to deeper cooler water in order to experience digestion comfortably.

As the daily average water temperature climbs to the middle 80s, the larger bass will be staying in the coolest water they can find — deeper areas throughout the lakes — until they are forced to swim shallower to locate food sources. Anglers will have to adjust their strategies and learn how fish travel to and from feeding and digestion areas.

In the past two weeks, I have caught all kinds of smaller bass under 1.5 pounds in the usual shoreline areas that huge bass previously (before water temps reached the lower 80s as an average) were consistently caught on a daily basis. Now, bass over 4-5 pounds come up from cooler water just briefly in order to feed and return to deeper water.

This ‘summer bass fishing trend’ will only continue more as the water temperatures rise to summertime highs. Experienced anglers know this is good news in that the bass now are concentrating in the areas of the lake where the best food source locations are. They are more confined, don’t swim as far and when they feed, they do so in large numbers all in the same area with fierce intensity. There might be less shoreline areas with active fish, but the few areas of shoreline that are closest to their deep cooler water homes, will be teaming with actively feeding monster bass.

Last year during the summer months I caught 12 of my 20 bass over 10 pounds for the year. I literally could go to the same eight holes on Istokpoga and catch a bass over eight pounds every day, and every 13 days battle a trophy-sized bass.

Last summer I caught more than one double-digit pound bass during the days leading up to the new and full moon periods. Last Father’s Day during the five days leading up to the new moon I boated on two separate days, three bass over ten pounds and two over ten pounds.

This time of year, multiple huge trophy bass are easier to catch within minutes of each other along the same small area of deeper shoreline vegetation than at any other time of year.

For the summer months, June, July, and August, I am offering a half-day bass fishing trip for one to three people that include bait and tackle, for $225. Launch time is at 6 a.m. and the trip ends at noon. Book your trip today.

Lake Istokpoga’s level is at 38.23 feet above sea level with one S68 spillway gate open at nine inches and flowing 130 cubic feet per second.

You can access all Lake Istokpoga information such as lake management plans and events, current spillway status, real-time data and many other facts concerning Highlands County’s top fishery by visiting Istokpoga.info.

And, if you would like to view and or print a lake contour map of the lake you are fishing, anywhere in the state, visit online, FloridaLakesMaps.com where I’ve compiled and edited every map I could find to make them available for free.

Fish and Wildlife Commission News (FWC): The FWC has given freshwater anglers a free weekend of fishing — no fishing license required—this month on June 14-15.

Dave Douglass is a bass fishing guide and conservationist in Central Florida. The full article can be accessed at BassFishingForecast.com and FloridaBassFishingForecast.com. Main website: HighlandsBassAngler.com Phone: 863-381-8474. Email: davidpdouglass@hotmail.com.