Winter cold slows fishing

The Florida freshwater fishing forecast for the second full week of January will be a typical winter full moon forecast giving anglers a full week or more of "normal winter weather" conditions. But Monday will be the exception.

Today and Tuesday the high-low temperature range will be 70-50, and Monday's range 80-60. Wednesday through Saturday a range of 64-40 is forecasted as a mild, steady, with daily north wind prevails. So be prepared to slow everything down and learn some patience.

There is a 50-percent chance of rain for Tuesday but other than that, there's a daily even mix of cloud cover and sunshine forecasted for the entire week. Plus wind speeds will be "fishable" with speeds under 10 mph every day but Wednesday when a front moves through the area and produces speeds of 15 mph.

Atmospheric pressure this week will be higher than the winter norm, averaging in the 30.25 In Hg ranges all week, which will help keep fish more shallow, which is also where the warmer water happens to be. So all you shallow water shoreline anglers get prepared to do some "silent bait entry" presentations through thicker vegetation areas, in four foot depths or less.

Another thing to keep in mind as you plan your order of fishing holes for the day, remember that the north and northwestern sides of the lake warm-up first this time of year. You can expect as much as a three-degree difference between the southeast corner and the northwest corner during the midmorning to mid afternoon hours. So fish will be more active sooner in the day in those areas.

Conversely, the late afternoon to early evening anglers should target the north to northeast sections of the lake for the same thermo reasoning. There is a world of difference between the level of feeding activity at the daily low of 58 degrees and the high of 62 degrees. And the north end of all lakes will have about a three degree increase in temperature daily from the reading from the south end.

Bait presentation this time of year becomes most critical. Bass for instance, slow way down from the metabolic speeds that occur in upper 60 degree water temperatures. The current upper 50s to 60-degree range slows down significantly how fast fish swim from point A to point B. So your retrieve speeds should match this factor or bass will move away from the unnatural intruder's signature.

Bass, and all fish species, eat less often or I should say, "need" to eat less often. But like you, all fish - that's right I am comparing you to a fish, in this column you've been reduced down to that species level-will eat their favor winter type food 'if' its been placed next to them for extended periods of time.

So, might I recommend downsizing your baits and hook sizes, which in my case would be selecting the Medlock Double Brush Guard Jig instead of the 7-inch Yum Dinger. Gambler Ugly Otters are also a good choice when more action is needed to trigger strikes. I use this bait as a trailer for the Medlock jigs. Slow-moving smaller bait with lots of action and noise is the bait presentation that works best for me this time of year.

Now before you think for one minute that I would give up my coveted 7-inch Black and Blue Yum Dingers, here me out. Giant Bass will eat anything at any time (yes, it's true). However, my fellow anglers, when is the last time you observed a huge individual select the smallest piece of favorite desert from an offering at the locale public smorgasbord? Never happens, right? They're too big to fit in the seat but that doesn't stop them from "grabbing" the largest piece of cake on the server's table.

So to it is for the 15 pound bass that lives in every lake in Highlands County. These species are smart and take advantage of every eating opportunity, heck, they even prefer to sneakily swipe another helping of food when no one is watching - OK so I'll stick to finny creatures however the human comparison still works.

The point is, when the largest bass in the lake happens along the migration trail and onto my big Yum Dinger, or if my Dinger slowly moves as if to hide within the ambush point of the monster bass, the temptation begins. The fatter the bass, the faster it takes the bait. Remember it's a "plate" that they prefer to be teased with, but only if it sits directly in front of them - smelling and looking tasty and not moving.

The fattest member of any species has an attitude problem and won't exert any energy to chase even the tastiest deserts. So "Let them eat cake" I say - literally and without the historical connotations of the French anecdote.

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The full moon on Thursday will be combined with the lunar orbit apogee, so the moon's influence will be at the weakest level of this year.

The major feeding migration for this week would typically be during the midmorning and mid afternoon hours when the moon is underfoot. However due to the beginning of normal winter water temperatures occurring this entire week, expect fish to feed near the end of this solar and lunar time period, when the daily high-water temp occurs. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. over the next three days. A rating of six to seven is possible during the noon hour.

The minor feeding migration of the will occur from 4-6 p.m. when the moon rises. A rating of four to five is likely but depending on the amount of sunlight during the afternoon, it could equal the midday feeding migration.

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