Local Sports

Fishing heats up in the afternoon

The Florida freshwater fishing forecast for the second half of the third week of March will be absolutely ideal for catching fish during the mid afternoon and morning hours.

As with waning full moons heading toward last-quarter moon phases, fish feeding migrations develop during the moonrise and set and when the moon is overhead and underfoot. And since the weather forecast is predicting consistent patterns and no sudden or quick changes, the lunar factors will primarily affect how fish form daily feeding migrations, progressively becoming more dominate daily until the next weather-change event occurs.

Today we are three days past the full moon which is midway between the orbit apogee and perigee, at the beginning of a five-day pattern of partly cloudy days with mild winds from a northeasterly direction for three days and then from a westerly direction for two days. Temperatures will be in the lower 80s and the lows at 60 degrees which will put the water temperature in the lower seventy degree range, which is perfect for fish to feed-at-will.

Atmospheric pressure will start out today well below 30 In Hg - since Monday night its been in the 29.75 In Hg range - and this will cause fish to move greater distances and exert greater energy in order to feed. Add the change in bright sunlight levels due to an even mix of clouds, and fish will be constantly adjusting, using even more energy. All of this adjustment adds up to the "need to feed" being even greater than it would otherwise be if the opposite fishing factor conditions were present.

The major feeding migration of the day will occur two hours before the moon underfoot period and two hour after, around 2-6 p.m. The peak period occurs from 2:30-4:30 p.m. and will have a feed intensity rating of six to seven today. This daily migration will move slightly by 20 minutes depending on atmospheric pressure changes and if there is not a pressure change expect it to move 50 minutes later. Also expect the rating to remain unchanged, regardless of what the various fishing help charts and tables predict - they're going to be wrong for the next five days.

The minor fishing migration of the day occurs during and after the moonset period, from 8-10 a.m. today. I expect the feed intensity rating to equal the major period at six to seven.

The only unknown fishing factor that can't be predicted from my office chair here on Tuesday morning centers on the barometric pressure plot-change pattern, which will develop with this upcoming five-day weather pattern.

But, you can be sure of one thing: when the pressure-change occurs, either up or down, each day, this is when fish will adjust one way or the other - I am betting the pressure rises significantly, influencing fish to move more shallow. And this movement will cause energy to be expended, and this will in turn cause an increase in the numbers of fish which will require food. Hope you're there, where the fish are, when this takes place.

Do you want some assistance finding bass? Well, for the month of March I've 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. It 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 $30.00 with you to the boat ramp on the day of the trip to have the discount.

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