The central Florida freshwater anglers' fishing forecast for the last half of the third week of December includes the end of a weak full moon period and a moon rise and set occurring in close proximity to the sun set and rise, respectively. And if you happen to be a midnight angler, you'll have an equally good experience to that of the midday anglers.
With all fish sensing the shortened daylight of the winter season, the two major game fish that most anglers target are both in their winter migration patterns. Both the crappie and bass are in a spawning mode with the crappie slightly more advanced into their annual spawning period.
Bass spawn in large numbers when water temperatures average out in the middle-to-upper 60-degree range. For the next three months bass anglers will have to hunt for non-spawning bass to achieve success.
Fact is, spawning bass don't feed during and after the reproductive event-ten to twelve days is the normal spawn, post-spawn non-feeding period.
For most anglers, catching fish while in their spawning effort is not very easy to accomplish and not a preferred practice to engage in ethically - I don't fish for spawning bass and have caught a total of three by accident and always felt bad about it. I find myself apologizing to the bass as I take the hook out quickly and release her back to the bedding nest.
So you should expect the good fishing results you had in your fall season to diminish substantially over the next few months. And if you happen to catch a spawning bass, please treat her with respect and handle with great care, making sure to release her quickly after a few pictures. Be careful not to crank-open her mouth, it is easier than you think to dislocate her jaw, which is fatal.
Another reason that bass are harder to catch during the spawning season in Florida is because of the 'rich food-chains' in our lakes. During the pre-spawn mode, bass feed heavily to bulk-up for the ten day or longer ordeal.
Since they feed more often, they are full more often and when anglers are out there attempting to catch feeding bass, they are for the majority of the time, too late for supper, so to speak. Live shiners would reduce this catch-negative; however artificial bait anglers won't have a chance, most of the time, attracting a bass to what amounts to a cheap hotdog presented on a seafood and steak smorgasbord.
Now for the good news, great fishing weather is here for the next six days.
The temperatures will heat up into the middle 80s by the weekend as warm easterly winds prevail from today through Saturday. The sky will be mostly sunny with wind speeds at 10 mph maximum.
By late Saturday through early Monday a southerly wind with more cloud cover will put fish in a better feeding mode.
I expect today to be a very good fishing day with a midday feeding migration that began to stabilize yesterday gaining strength into early this afternoon. Likewise the midnight feeding period will also be very good.
By Friday afternoon anglers will have the best of it as the feeding migration starts later into the day. This weekend the late afternoon and early evening anglers should be finding great success as the moon and sun combine to trigger an aggressive feeding period from 3 to 7 p.m.
The early morning anglers will have a moonset occurring an hour or two after the sunrise and this will trigger a minor feeding migration throughout shoreline shallows. It won't be lasting very long but if you know where they are, you'll do fairly well from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m.
Atmospheric pressure will remain in the 30.18-30.28 In Hg range for the next three to four days. With the cooler water temperatures, this high pressure system will help to keep fish in shallow water of 2 to 5 foot depths more often. This factor too, will inspire bass and crappie to spawn more aggressively. However both feeding fish and spawning fish will be more where anglers prefer to fish - sorry deep-water structure anglers, but you probably will have to adjust to the shorelines unless your tree-pile extends up to within six feet or so of the surface.
I have just had my best bass fishing year of my career. It has caused me to reflect back to remember why this occurred and what skills were essential in making this happen.
I could start naming full names of those who took time to educate me about Florida bass fishing, but that might not be appropriate so I'll use first names only - the right people will know who they are.
In 2004 I met Don N. who helped me get started and pointed me in the right direction and introduced me to many tools of the trade and more importantly experienced anglers, thanks Don. Then Mike, who helped me launch a bass guide business, Burt, Remo, Larry, Don H., Ivan, and Jeff all advised and challenged me in various ways to better my experience.
Robert sold me a boat and said, "Spend time on the water Dave". James and J.R. spent time bringing me up to speed, literally, plus J.R. taught me jig-fishing and tournament fishing. It was Ken K. who first introduced me to seven inch Yum Dingers in 'Black and Blue' and Junebug colors, thank you Ken. John W. helped me unreservedly and still does.
And indirectly, Joe and Brandon showed me what true team bass fishing looks like. In 2007 I took this 'collective base experience' and turned up the energy level to high and have fished 250 days per year average since.
I would also like to thank everyone who I had the privilege of bass fishing with, and you 'the readers' who have supported me in too many ways to count.
I have one regret, that I didn't move here earlier in life. Also I might have missed someone important in my experience to thank, for which I am sorry.
As I remember what got me here at the end of my eighth year, these words of gratitude are just the beginning of saying, "Thank you all for making the Bass Capitol of the World a utopia for me". Dave Douglass is a bass fishing guide and conservationist since 2006 in Highlands County. Website: HighlandsBassAngler.com Phone: 863-381-8474. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.