Local Sports

Fishing has never been better

The Florida freshwater fishing forecast for the second half of the fourth week of July could not be any better for anglers to catch a lot of fish.

The new moon arrives this Saturday albeit two days before the lunar orbit apogee, and the weather forecast predicts a mild mainly westerly wind that should provide just enough cooling to fish comfortably.

Over the past two days, the major feeding migration has occurred exactly in correlation with the moon’s ‘overhead’ activity and the minor feeding migrations also have been dead-on the timing of the moon’s ‘rise and set’ activity.

On Monday the Istokpoga bass started to become active at 9:15 a.m. with a five pounder and a few three to four pounders vigorously swirling and engulfing swimming seven inch Yum Dingers retrieved through combinations of bulrush, lily pads and cattails which had 4-6 feet of depth.

By the time the midmorning feeding action had subsided a total of fifteen bass between one and five pounds had been hooked and battled to the side of the boat — 3-4 five-pounders, 4-four pounders, 3-three pounders, and 4 one to two pounders. Plus a 20 inch gar and a few other trash fish with teeth that shredded baits and gave false hope of hooking a huge bass.

On Tuesday Istokpoga again proved to be the great bass fishing lake that it is. Bass started to actively feed on cue from the moon right at 9:50 a.m. with a six pounder quietly sucking in my large plastic worm. It felt like my bait was stuck in the vegetation, but when I checked by setting the hook, those weeds fought back defiantly. Three minutes later a five pound bass slammed my worm and headed toward open water with a vengeance, only to be boated 15 seconds later.

By the time the feeding activity stopped at 11:20 a.m. I hooked and battled 12 more bass between 3-5 lbs.--three of which were right at the five-pound mark. I figured my best five bass weights combined, totaled 27 pounds. All were caught in the deepest shoreline vegetation areas which are closest to the deeper sections of Istokpoga.

I had one bass that I lost in battle that was clearly over eight pounds. I say, “Clearly” because she tail-walked through the bulrush even with my rod tip at the water’s surface during the battle. When she came out into open water I thought I had her for sure, but as fate would have it, as I attempted to slow her down the hook ripped free with relative ease and flew over my head.

As you are reading this article this morning, I am out on the water expecting the moon’s affects to be triggering bass to feed from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for the main feeding migration of the day. And I am also expecting the minor feeding migration of the day to occur at safelight and last until the sun is fully up and visible. The major period rating should be in the 7-8 range while the minor period should climb to a 5-6 range this morning.

Thursday through Saturday I am planning on a midday feeding migration from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and a strengthening early morning feeding migration from 5:30 to 8:30 a.m. If the past two days’ bass feeding activity continues for the next three days, the possibility of a feed rating of 7-9 is very reasonable for both feeding periods.

I have not been fishing during the sunset hours of the day for quite some time. However from the fishing reports I am hearing from my fellow anglers who love to fish this time of day, the fishing activity has been very good to say the least. I would say this will continue as the moonset period occurs from 5 to 7 p.m. over the next four days.

For the summer months July and August I am offering a half-day bass fishing trip for one to three people that include bait, tackle, and gas for $225. Launch time is at 6 a.m. and the trip ends at noon. Or I can fish from your boat and guide you to my fishing holes for $125 per day. Book your trip on my boat or yours today.

The best sides of the lake to fish has been the windy-side shorelines. The larger bass have been in the sparse to moderately thick vegetation areas and the bait retrieve and action that produced the most strikes has been a steady slow swimming retrieve with a pause as the bait comes in contact with vegetation.

Large plastic worms (senco type), Medlock jigs with dark trailers, and white or gold spinner baits with gold blades, and the ever superior Johnson Spoon, have been ‘hot’ baits on all the lakes. The key is to swim them as close to the lake bottom as possible without letting them rest on the bottom—a slow jigging-swimming type action with a half second pause as the bait comes in contact with structure.

Remember, the bass species puts on the majority of its annual weight gain during the months of June through August. To catch them the angler must mimic exactly what the lake’s bait fish do when feeding. The angler will not trick a bass into striking unless the bait moves in unison with the food chain of the lake. There is so much active food swimming around out there that bass rarely make a mistake this time of year.

It’s not just, “Live Action” but natural, familiar, and normal live action that must be replicated exactly in order to be a successful angler, especially in the Florida summertime bass fishing scene.

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.