Local Sports

How to fish the shallows

The Florida freshwater fishing forecast for the third week of July includes the full moon and lunar orbit perigee and a typical rainy season weather forecast.

Today the perigee occurs and yesterday the full moon arrived which means very good fishing right after lunchtime. If the storm activity doesn’t start until mid-afternoon or later the next three days will be as good as it gets for afternoon summer full moon fishing.

The major feeding migration of the day occurs from 1 to 4 p.m. over the next three to four days and will have a rating today of 7-8 which will diminish by one point daily until the midweek. I expect the peak period to occur from 1 to 2:30 today and also diminish daily in duration and intensity.

The minor fishing migration of the day occurs during the sunrise and moonset — 6:40 and 7:56 a.m. respectively. A rating of 6-7 is likely today but expect this feeding period to also diminish daily by a half number until the midweek when it should settle around a 4 rating. The peak period will be from 6 to 8:30 a.m.

Do you like to fish in depths of 2 to 5 feet? Well this time of year more so than the other three season, the majority of fish migrate to areas of the lake where deep water is close by.

Locate the deepest section of any lake and take the shortest route to shoreline areas. Hopefully you have a sonar unit in the boat so you can view the lake’s bottom structures. Especially note lake bottom changes, humps, break lines, and vegetation.

For bass prepare rods with jigs in order to determine the lake’s ‘bottom consistency’—hard or soft bottom, and spinner baits to determine what ‘bass size’ that is active, and large plastics to determine if bass are in the thicker vegetation where jigs and spinner baits don’t work well.

Always present your baits in the most natural manner possible. For instance shaking the bait violently when it becomes stuck in vegetation will cause bass to move away cautiously.

Instead point the rod tip directly at the stuck bait and gently, very smoothly, try pulling strait back. If that doesn’t work extend your arms out, pointing your rod at the bait, clamp down on the spool with your thumb and use the other hand to clamp down the line on the rod and pull slowly straight back.

By not non-aggressively pulling the bait with the rod tip at the water’s surface, you’ll not expose the hook from the plastic bait, and will change the direction of how the bait is stuck. This will cause the bait to come free and gently fall into the water or to fall to the lake bottom.

I call this the “Low and Tow” retrieve. It produces a natural appearance to the bait, doesn’t spook bass away from the bait, and in fact produces the opposite bass response of coming closer to check out the food source which seems to be attempting to hide from being eaten. Remember you want to take your time. The ‘stuck bait’ is a positive opportunity to present your bait in a natural manner and attract attention. Don’t act unnatural and spoil the possibility of setting the hook on a monster bass.

Monster bass always lay in wait in shallows very close to deeper water. They select the dense vegetation to achieve an ambush, and your bait needs to try to act the same way. Abrupt unnatural bait movements lets the bass know you are not normal so she moves away.

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.

Lake Istokpoga’s level is at 38.25 feet above sea level (the max level for the rainy season) with four gates at the S68 spillway open 2.50 feet and flowing 2500 cubic feet per second—Saturday 6 a.m. status. Access this information, lake management plans and much more at Istokpoga.info.

Need to consult a lake contour map? Go to FloridaLakesMaps.com which is your online portal to all existing maps provided by Florida lake management agencies. View online or download for free.

Fish and Wildlife Commission News (FWC): Proposed Rule Change to Daily Bass Bag Limit. Five bass with one over 16 inches allowed. FWC offers a survey for public opinion on the proposal at http://myfwc.com/fishing/freshwater/black-bass/bass-regulations/

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.