Summer fishing has never been better

The fishing outlook for Central Florida's freshwater anglers for Sept. 18-22 includes a full moon lunar phase with a typical stormy season forecast that will bring a 50-percent chance of rain today and the usual 30-40-percent chance for the rest of the week. With all the rainfall we've had this summer, the Heartland's freshwater lake levels are back to historic highs, with many lakes exceeding those marks. It's been a long time since I saw many of the Avon Park lakes up to the boat docks, with their shorelines full of fish that inhabit and feed in the plush vegetation that grew thick over the past five years. If you've been waiting for the stormy season to end before you start fishing, you're missing out on the best summertime fishing that Central Florida's had since 2006 and 2007. And I am experiencing, along with many other anglers I've talked to over the past two months, even greater success than during those previous years. Bass between one and four pounds are in abundance in all the usual feeding areas along shorelines and deeper water structures. And my the number of five to seven pound bass I've caught this summer have never been more impressive. On a typical six to eight hour fishing trip over the past two months, the average bass total weight is in the mid-20s. And just in the past two weeks, bass in the eight to 10 pound range have pushed those total numbers into the upper-20s.
Last Friday my 15th double-digit bass of the year came into the boat looking healthy and strong. Before that, the usual six pound bass, along with several three pounders and over a dozen bass from one to two pounds, joined in on the fun. Heck, at one point I left one fishing hole and went to another hoping to get away from all those pesky little two pound bass. As it turned out, there was a light 10 pounder waiting for some action at the next hole. I tell you, the torture never stops. I haven't suffered this much happiness in a long time. The only thing that moves me off the water is the heat, and when that subsides into the 80-degree range soon, I fear I might not leave the lake until dark or when I can't find fish - which ever comes first. My fellow anglers, when you start having nightmares of bass following you around the lake, pursuing you, stalking you, just to get in on the action, well - that's bad, that's all I can say. It's a heavy responsibility to bear alone; I just pray I can handle it. (It was the bass' fault that I didn't write an article last Sunday). Seriously, the bass fishing has never been better. The bulk of my quality catches over the past two weeks have been during midday hours, no matter what the solunar forecasts predict. It seems the afternoon to evening storms have caused the majority of the fish to feed during the mid-morning to mid-afternoon hours regardless of what the moon phase and its orbit position is. My theory is that the dissolved oxygen rate is the main factor right now. Once the lake's vegetation produces that particular lake's highest oxygen rate of the day, the fish feed. And if there's plenty of sunlight and little wave action, this phenomenon only increases, causing fish to feed for longer periods. There were several days over the past two weeks where we started catching fish at 9 a.m. and the feeding didn't stop all day. We left the lake to find some shade, not because the fish stopped biting. The cloudier the day, the less feeding duration there will be. Conversely the more sunshine there is, the more the feeding duration increases. And if the previous day had a lot of cloud cover, followed by clear skies, the fish fed for longer periods to make up for the lack in ability to feed when oxygen rates were lower. So for us, the Florida freshwater angler, the solar and lunar fishing forecasts don't apply as much during our summer season. Weather conditions always trump celestial fishing factors every time, and right now, heat and light is dominating the timing and duration of the feeding fish. Since this week's full moon normally creates a midday feeding migration, it will really increase the feeding activity that is already occurring during the midday hours due to weather factors. I expect to see even better fishing results over the next three days due to this alignment of these factors. The major feeding migration of the day occurs from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. over the next four days. I don't believe that it will move into the stormy period of the day but remain during the sunny period of the day - the period of clear, sunny skies - will trigger the feeding migration's peak periods. The feeding rating will be near the 10 range when this weather condition occurs. Otherwise, you can expect a range of eight during the midday hours. The minor feeding migration of the day occurs during the early morning hours from 6-8 a.m. and will have a rating of six just as the sunrise occurs. The brighter the sun, the better the fishing results will be. Bass anglers will be setting the hook on a lot of smaller bass because they can still feed during low oxygen rates. Lake Istokpoga's level is at 39.12 feet above sea level, which is four inches below the annual high pool mark of 39.5 feet. The Kissimmee Chain of lakes and Lake Toho East and West are all on the rise for the next two months. The freshwater lakes of Florida are alive with feeding fish like never before; it's unbelievable and fantastic. Dave Douglass is a bass fishing guide and conservationist since 2006 in Highlands County. Website: Phone: 863-381-8474. Email: