Midday warmth is best for fishing

The Florida freshwater fishing forecast for this week includes the full moon, lunar orbit apogee, and a weather forecast that predicts consistent winter conditions that will remain unchanged for at least the next 10 days. All winter season fishing factors considered, that's not a bad prognosis for catching Florida's fish species. It could be much worse.

Since weather factors are vital for most anglers, let's consider them first. Atmospheric pressure will fluctuate slightly over the next four days but not enough to change where fish feed and digest foods. Winds will be out of the north until Monday with the strongest speeds occurring today and Thursday - 15 mph average and gusting to 20 mph. Cloud-cover will be present today but only for 50-percent of the day. Meanwhile, temperatures will be dropping by 15 degrees today down to the upper 50s and 30s for the daily high and low.

Bright sunshine is forecasted for Thursday through Sunday which will gradually warm the afternoon water temperatures up out of the 50-degree range. By the weekend water temperatures should be entering the 60s as a daily average.

The full moon occurs late tonight in the early hours tomorrow morning, and arrives at the orbit apogee point - its furthest position from earth in the 28-day monthly orbit cycle - which makes it a weak full moon. And since there is a cold front arriving in our state today, there won't be very many fish feeding tonight or for the next two to three nights, as they adjust and slow down considerably.

However, the good news about the full moon phase is that it triggers a midday feeding migration which happens to be the warmest time of the day. Today and tomorrow this period might not be too productive due to fish adjusting to the temp change, but there will be some fish feeding. And since the moon's affect on fish will be moving later into the day by about 50 minutes daily, the warmest part of the day will only get better for catching fish over the next week.

I already said that the atmospheric pressure won't be changing drastically, however, there will be a steady to moderate increase over the next four days which will "help" to cause fish to move into warmer shallow waters - a slow steady pressure increase is always positive news. And additionally and coincidentally, the warmest water in our lakes right now are in the northwestern to northeastern sides of the lakes, which happens to be out of the wind and wave action.

So you have plenty of incentives to put on your thermo underwear, breakout your winter coats and gloves, and go find some feeding fish along the north ends of the lake. (I'll be taking some ripping hot chili in my thermos to keep me "cooking for the catch").

Remember you can access the full article and additional fishing information by going online to BassFishingForecast.com or FloridaBassFishingForecast.com

The major feeding migration of the day will occur during the warmest time of day, when the sun is overhead and the moon underfoot, 10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. As stated, this period moves later each day by 50 minutes. The weather change today will cause fish to suspend and adjust. However, each day significantly more fish will be joining the feeding activity during this period.

The one-in-10 scale rating will be considerably less than published ratings on popular solunar charts and graphs. The cold weather will shutdown feed rates, dropping them to the three range today, four range tomorrow, and perhaps by Friday, a range of five to six. By the weekend, a seven rating is very likely during the 3-5 p.m. hours.

The minor feeding migration of the day occurs during the moonset and rise combined with the sunrise and set, respectively. However since weather factors always overpower lunar and solar fishing factors, the sunrise/moonset period will not be near as productive as its counterpart, the sunset/moonrise period. I expect about a five degree difference between the two feeding migration periods. A rating of two is expected today for the morning period and a rating of four during the evening period. The rating will improve slightly each day by one number for both periods.

Fishing Facts: During the Florida winters, when water temperatures drop into the 50-degree range for extended periods, bass, when they need to eat, will follow the heat source and migrate into shallow shoreline areas to hunt for food. The entire food chain moves at a much slower pace and so the signature of the food source is one consisting of long pauses within thick cover and slow swimming motions toward the next closest cover area.

For this reason, bass anglers must adjust bait retrieve speeds and actions to match this natural signature. Due to our state's freshwater lakes being so rich in food sources, the larger bass over four pounds don't chase food sources. And during the winter season this is even more true as metabolisms drop to the lowest annual speeds.

For this reason anglers must perfect the silent bait entry into the thicker cover vegetations in the shallows. A one ounce or larger bullet weight and a heavy gage 3-4/0 hook with tubes or other smaller plastics Texas-rigged, must be silently pitched or flipped into the smallest openings in the tops of matted vegetation. The more silent the bait presentation, the better the success rate will be.

Now, once you've hooked a huge bass under thick vegetation, you must make a decision whether or not to try to overpower the fish with the rod (hoping you've hooked her solidly), or to play the fish until she tires enough to not rip free from the hook that might not be into a solid bone or cartilage. I always choose the latter. Since doing so, my catch rates of monster bass has gone up by 40-percent.

Lake Istokpoga information can be accessed online at www.Istokpoga.info, including the lake level at the various weather station locations, the status of the S-68 spillway gates and rate of flow. Links to the latest news from South Florida Water Management and the Fish and Wildlife Commission are also provided. Contour and weed management maps, bass and crappie data analysis graphics and is available as well.

Dave Douglass is a bass fishing guide and conservationist since 2006 in Highlands County. Website: HighlandsBassAngler.com Phone: 863-381-8474. Email: davidpdouglass@hotmail.com.