The fishing forecast for this week will give anglers typical stormy season weather and a weak new moon.
A moderate east wind will dominate until the midweek when it will shift to a southeastern direction and bring a higher percentage of rainfall. However, for the next three to four days afternoon thunderstorms will be the only challenge to keep an eye on as fish follow the lunar influence and begin to feed at this time of day.
As with any new moon or full moon period, the primary fish feeding migration occurs during midday and midnight hours with the former being the more active feeding period of the two.
The total lack of moonlight will make it harder for feeding fish to successfully find their prey. To make up for this loss of food, they'll feed 12 hours later, during the noontime hours, when light reveals where the smaller prey are hiding.
Since this time of day has the hottest water temperatures, with highs reaching into the mid 80s before noon, the quality fish of all species will feed early, before the daily high water temperature is reached.
For this 'weather reason' and factor, the feeding migration is altered from the normal patterns of the other three seasons of the year when there is a new moon in orbit apogee. Water temperature becomes the 'trump card' that confines feeding activity to the coolest temp period of the day from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m.
So the new moon will influence fish to feed during the midmorning hours, just before water temperatures really start to heat-up to daily high marks. But in reality, down in the depths of the water column, when you think that 'bite' has ended, it might be that they fish are still feeding, albeit at a deeper depth.
To make-up for the additional heat increase, fish will move deeper by two to four feet in order to extend the feeding period--essentially feeding in the same temperature that occurred at 9:30 a.m.
The thing to remember is, as the water temp increases, always adjust by working your bait at the depth of the 'low surface temp of the day'. If bass are feeding actively at 9 a.m. along a shoreline vegetative area that has five to six foot of depth, you should expect to have to move two to three feet deeper by 12 p.m. In other words, find the depths of eighty-two degrees or less and you'll find more feeding fish.
There is another factor that will drive fish deeper over the next four days, and that is barometric pressure. The atmospheric plot for the next few days forecasts a decline in pressure which will cause fish to adjust downward, a little each day.
So if you're not finding them today like you did a few days ago, it's because they're on the deeper side of the boat, so to speak. Stop pitching, switch rods and rigs, turn around, and 'cast' out into open, deeper waters.
You'll find there is an 'audience' of the 'finny kind' watching you waste your time fishing in the wrong direction - as they sit in grass beds that you didn't know were 100 feet behind you.
Better yet, position your boat 50 yards from traditional shoreline hot spots and drop down in line, hook, and weight sizes - switch to a lighter rigging. Then cast to the outside edge of the vegetation you were previously pitching and flipping to, Carolina rigging a swim-bait or large stick-bait downhill from the formerly successful, productive shoreline will show you that they're still feeding at a lower depth.
The other day on Istokpoga I was catching two to three pound bass along a six foot deep shoreline vegetative area with water temperatures on the surface of 85 degrees. When I moved a 'long cast distance' away from the same shoreline area, and switched to 12 pound test line, a 4/0 hook, and six inch swim-bait Carolina-rigged up one foot, five to seven pound bass responded at depths two feet deeper on a medium retrieve speed.
The quality bass were holding two feet deeper in ambush areas, waiting for the smaller fish to feed and return to ideal water temperature areas, deeper in the lake--areas of suspension and digestion during the hot summer month.
The major feeding migration of the day occurs from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will move later into the day by about 40 minutes per day. As this lunar trigger starts later each day, the feeding fish will be moving deeper each day to feed in the same temperature water of the previous day's feeding environment.
If there isn't enough depth in the lake to accommodate this requirement, the fish will simply feed when the 'right temperature' water occurs - feed earlier in the morning hours. The peak period will happen early in the period and should last for several hours at a overall rating of six to seven.
The minor feeding migration of the day occurs from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. when the water starts to cool and dissolved oxygen rates are highest for the day. Windy sides of the lake seem to be producing better due to wind-driven factors such as greater oxygen rates and plankton--the beginning of the lake's food chain.
The short of it; to fish shorelines you should fish early in the cool of the day, and to catch fish in the heat of the day fish deeper structures and grasses. And always locate the deepest healthiest vegetation that leads to deeper shorelines.
Lake Istokpoga's level is above the high-pool hurricane season limit of 38.25 feet above sea level by two or three inches. Four gates are open three feet at the S-68 spillway, flowing 3,000 cubic feet per second volume of water (Saturday morning data). That is enough 'flow' through the lake to cause fish to migrate further south in all of the eight deeper sections of this lake.
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.