Pressure change can activate fish

The Florida freshwater fishing forecast for the last six days of February includes the last-quarter lunar phase and a weather forecast predicting a chance of rainfall as warm westerly winds and lower atmospheric pressure prevail for the first half of this week.

Today and Monday afternoon thunderstorms are predicted and no sunshine and Tuesday a mix of sun and clouds with just a slight chance of rain in some areas. Wednesday in the late afternoon to evening hours a minor cold front will bring a temperature drop of 15 degrees for Thursday and a chance of rainfall at 50 percent. Friday and Saturday will be overcast with periods of rain throughout the Heartland as temperatures climb back to 80 degrees for next Sunday.

Since most of the rain events for this week are predicted to occur in the afternoons and evening hours, it works well with the last-quarter lunar phase which occurred yesterday and is waning toward the new moon on Saturday.

The daily feeding migration pattern of the past week followed a weather factor more than the celestial factors because for the simple rule that, any time weather varies, fish adjust, start to be active and or change or start their movements.

The atmospheric pressure reached a 'daily high period' (which doesn't always happen as a daily pattern) each day, starting a rise in pressure from 30.08 In Hg to 30.28 In Hg and even higher on a few days, and then declining two to three hours later back to the 30.10-range.

To be clear, a pressure change causes fish to adjust their comfort zone slightly up or down; it doesn't cause them to feed per se. However when fish move, they expend energy more than when suspended and dormant (as they are when weather doesn't change at all) so thus they could need food. And depending on the lake area's structure that they are using, they might need to swim twenty feet or one hundred yards to achieve the same adjustment of one foot up in the water column.

And naturally they will see other fish species moving along with them, and naturally some of them become hungry at this time. And since fish are 'opportunistic feeders' that don't need to be hungry to eat their prey, some of the lake's food-chain are consumed due to the adjustment.

Now, during the last six days' 'higher atmospheric pressure period' the only weather factor that changed was barometric pressure. The wind remained the same, the percentage of cloud-cover remained unchanged, and water temperature didn't change either. So then a change of about .22 In Hg caused enough of a change on the fish's 'swim bladder' to cause a migration upward in the water column in order to maintain their comfort level.

This small change helped an unknown percentage of the fish at the depth and place I was fishing, to feed. In fact the average daily 'strike count' during these periods was about seven on all six days - with a low of three on one day, three days at six, and two days at eight and nine respectively.

So, barometric change causes fish to move at the very least, and hunger might result, and movement might cause opportunistic feeding, and then again, maybe not. One thing is for sure, any weather change is better than none. And just atmospheric pressure change is enough at times, to trigger fish to become more active.

It was this reason alone that caused the solunar charts, graphs and predictions to be later in the day than the time that anglers caught their fish over the past week. 9:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. was the productive fishing period of the day, which would have only been accurate for last Sunday and Monday on only some of the fishing help resources online and in magazines.

The major feeding migration according to the sun and moon this week will be from 6-9 a.m. today through Wednesday. I expect the peak period to occur as the moon is overhead and the sun rises, both occurring at 7 a.m. today, with the 'moon overhead period' occurring one hour later each day. Feed ratings will be hard to predict, but I am expecting a 5-7 feed intensity rating.

The minor feeding migration occurs during the moonset period from 12:30 p.m. today, and moving later daily by one hour. If weather changes occur as forecasted for this time of day, this feeding migration might out perform the morning period this week. I would bet the feed rating is close to 6 this week.

Last week I enjoyed fishing with all the reader-anglers who participated with me in "Angler's Appreciation Week". Fishing results were meager during the half-day trips, however collectively the morning and afternoon trips combined did yield some huge bass battles, some lost and some won.

There was an 8-pound plus bass caught on every day but one. One 11-plus pounder, a 9 pounder, and a 5-pound weight average for the week.

My Wednesday morning client had two huge trophy bass come off the hook in the battle that I know were the 'bass of a lifetime.'

Dave Douglass is a bass fishing guide and conservationist in Central Florida. This column can be accessed in full at and Main website: Phone: 863-381-8474. Email: