Technique makes a big difference

The fishing forecast for this week will provide anglers with excellent fishing conditions when the fish are biting. Even though the lunar orbit will be at apogee this Saturday, the new moon week which also starts on the same day will have fish feeding in larger numbers for longer periods during the times of day when the intense simmer heat has subsided. So if you haven't made plans to go fishing over the next 10 days, might I suggest rearranging your schedule so you can take advantage of one of the two best periods of the month to catch your favorite fish. The second best period of the month is centered on the lunar orbit perigee and full moon which happens to be from the seventeenth through the twenty-third. The perigee occurs two days before the full moon so it will be a very strong full moon affect, one you don't want to miss out on. The only potentially bad fishing news is that there might be - if the weather forecast is accurate - a good deal of rain from Monday through Wednesday from the remnants of what used to be tropical storm Dorian. I say good deal because not all our lakes have fully recovered their normal heights, or levels and a few tropical depressions slowly passing through central Florida is still exactly what is needed.
When it comes to bait selection for this time of year, in talking with many bass anglers over the past month the same bait kept getting all the praise, or I should say, same type of bait got all the credit, and that is a swim bait simulating either a shiner, bluegill, or needle-fish. Getting those particular bait-fish type's actions mastered along with the correct colors for the particular lakes fished, was the key for more quality bites. For me, well it is no secret what I use to accomplish this 'match the hatch' methodology. For the size I use a large plastic between seven and eight inches. For the color I use a combination of blue and black, black and red, black and white, or dark green and red. And if the water clarity is poor or very poor, I add extra noise and less weight to allow the bass to feel the vibrations and to allow more time to accurately strike its prey. I say 'additional' because I always employ a rattling Texas-rigged bullet weight up front, unless of course I'm Carolina-rigging the bait - which requires no weights at all in order to 'float' the bait at a short-distance leader behind the anchor/drag-weight. One other technique I employ is to - this is going to fly in the face of conventional fishing rod teachings - "not" use the rod's action and speed rating. I accomplish this by literally 'towing' the bait through the vegetation, by extending my rod arm out while dropping the rod tip into the water just slightly, and with the rod literally pointing at the bait, pull the rod back to my body. Then I retrieve the line while moving my arm back out and repeat. This type of retrieve I've called the "Low Tow Slow Go' and it keep the bait at the bottom in the heavy vegetation with less snags therefore causing the rattling weight to do its work, and it allows for the slowest retrieve possible, all the while my arms are in a 'hook-set' positions in all instances, One-hundred percent of the retrieve-time. If the bite occurs while the rod arm is outstretched, I just jerk my arm back instead of raising the rod tip up fast as is done in the traditional hook-set motion. Obviously, this retrieval technique will not work when 'flipping' which requires 'peeling line with the non-rod hand, but for pitching and casting it works excellent. This technique of swimming a swim-bait type plastic bait provides a better 'visual' of how fast your bait is actually moving - same speed as the rod arms is moving instead of cranking the handle on the reel so many times per five-second periods. It also stops the angler from using a jerking motion with the rod tip, when the bait seems caught on vegetation. Down in the natural world at the lake's bottom bait fish don't 'thrash' past or 'jump' past and through vegetation, they saunter, so to speak, through smoothly as to not reveal where they are to larger prey. And since the rattles used mimic perfectly the sound of a feeding bait-fish, well, it's no wonder I have caught more than fourteen bass over ten pounds 'so far' this year. Give the ole "Low and Tow, Slow Go' technique a try. You'll find out that it is easy on the arm all day long and the hook-set motion is just affective if not more. You'll also discover that your bait will come through the thickest vegetation far easier with hardly any snags, and you're bait will be moving far slower than if you cranked your reel using the traditional method of retrieval. Keeping the hook embedded in the plastic is more easily achieved as well, so that your plastic bait's conditions stays like new all day long. The major feeding migration of the day occurs from 7-11 a.m. with a peak period occurring about an hour after full sunup and lasting for about 90 minutes. A one-in-ten rating of six or seven should remain constant until Sunday when it should improve to eight. The minor feeding migration of the day occurs from 8-10 p.m. and will have a peak period for ninety minutes starting just after the sunset. A rating of five or six is expected. Lake Istokpoga's level is at 38.25 feet above sea level with the four gates at the S-68 spillway open 2.5 feet and flowing 2500 cubic feet per second. Dave Douglass is a bass fishing guide and conservationist since 2006 in Highlands County. Website: Phone: 863-381-8474. Email: