Local Sports

Spring fishing stays hot

The Florida freshwater fishing forecast for the last day of April and first three days of May will have good weather as the new moon that arrived yesterday progresses toward the first-quarter phase that occurs next Tuesday along with the lunar orbit apogee.

The weather forecast for the next four days will look more like the rainy season that starts in May and or June. However, it won’t last because starting Sunday, next week’s forecast predicts sunny days with no rain for the entire week. So be expecting afternoon rains from today into this weekend.

The moonrise, combined with the sunrise, will produce a very good early morning fishing experience and the sunset and moonset will likewise cause an excellent fishing experience as the sunset occurs.

Depending on the weather situation for our area of the state in the early afternoon hours, this moon overhead period could also be very good. A stable unmoving barometer will do nothing to enhance the feeding action, but if there is any movement at all either up or down, expect fish to adjust slightly and therefore feed more than they would otherwise.

The water temperature is now in the perfect feeding zone for the year with, a mid-70s to low 80s degree range occurring. All fish are feed heavily right now on a daily basis, so whether you like to fish in the early mornings, or midday, or late evening hours, you should have very good success rates.

Looking ahead to the month of May, I believe the best fishing days will occur from May 9-15 and again from May 24-29. And the best sunrise and sunset fishing days will be from May 17-19. So if you thinking of planning a fishing trip or hiring a fishing guide, mark these days on your calendar.

The major feeding migration of the day occurs over the next four days from noon to 4 p.m. The peak period will happen an hour before the moon overhead period and an hour afterward. A rating of 6-7 is expected but will diminish slightly as the weekend arrives.

The minor fishing migrations of the day occur from 6:30-10 a.m. and from 7-9:30 p.m. The peak periods will happen just after the sunrise in the mornings and just after the sunset in the evenings. Peak periods start out today in the five range but will improve slightly daily and arrive at a seven rating by Sunday.

Lake Istokpoga’s level is at 38.85 feet above sea and slowly dropping with one gate at the S68 spillway open at one foot and flowing 185 cubic feet per second. By June 1 the lake must be below 38.25 feet above sea level, which is the high pool mark. 37.50 feet above sea level is the possible low pool mark for hurricane season.

For the summer months I am offering full day (6 hours minimum) bass fishing trips for two anglers or one, with everything included (equipment, artificial baits, and fuels) on all lakes in Highlands County for $250.

For the past two weeks, large bass have been hard to come by for most anglers. However, huge bass are still to be caught by a few who happen to be in the right fishing hole at the right time on Lake Istokpoga. Bass between 3-6 pounds have been a constant daily with between 8-12 bass per fishing trip being caught. Two or three times per week I’ve put 8-9 pound bass in the boat, but the double digit pound bass I believe, are too full to select an artificial bait, being able to eat natural bait fish and crawfish non stop.

And since I wrote about bait colors last Sunday, I have seen Istokpoga anglers using successfully the follow colors to catch bass: black and blue, dark blue, Junebug, red shad, green pumpkin, watermelon red, and white. All anglers informed me that they were catching plenty of bass with a few catching trophy-sized bass. Bait types were, worms, swimbaits, jigs, crawdads, spinnerbaits and chatter-baits.

However, all said they were slowly swimming their selected baits through vegetation, allowing a slight pause followed by a slow retrieve speed, keeping the bait as close to the bottom as possible. The smaller bass were caught at slightly higher speeds and the larger bass caught with slower speeds and pauses.

The only bait selection that I found didn’t work with my theory on colors were the white chatter type jigs which had chrome colored clacking blades on them. I don’t believe the color was visible to the bass, but the loud rhythmic clacking sound and vibrations enabled bass to accurately strike the baits.

As Buck Perry once said, “bait-retrieve depth and speed is the key to successful fishing — color, size, and action are nothing more than aids to enhance depth and speed.”

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