Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

Fish go deep in the heat


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The fishing forecast for Central Florida's freshwater anglers for the second week of September includes the development of the first-quarter moon that will be close to its lunar orbit perigee, along with the standard hurricane season forecast.

A front passed through the upper half of the state yesterday, dropping the atmospheric pressure enough to slow down shallow water feeding migrations while improving the deep water structure fishing. Due to the change, fish adjusted downward to find their comfort levels. According to various weather predictions, this should reverse itself late tonight heading into tomorrow morning, causing fish to return to the thick, lush shoreline vegetations all of our lakes have.

However, the moon will be influencing fish to feed primarily in the heat of the afternoons, especially for the first part of the week, as the first-quarter moon develops, which arrives on Thursday. The lunar perigee (closest orbit point to earth) occurs Sept. 14, making the influence of this particular lunar phase much stronger. And for further planning this fall season, over the next three months, the first-quarter lunar phase will become even stronger.

The first-quarter moon creates an afternoon-to-evening feeding migration normally in most seasons, but with the water temperatures in the middle to upper 80s during that time of day, most shoreline areas will not be productive unless atmospheric pressure is very high. Only the smallest members of the fish species are able to find a level of comfort that can endure the high heat and the low oxygen rates this type of weather produces. Expect the second half of this week to provide the level of high pressure needed to "turn on" shoreline feeding migrations.

The major feeding migration of the day will occur from 2-5 p.m. over the next four days, with a peak period toward the late afternoon, around 4-5 p.m., when oxygen rates are higher. Today the fish will be deeper, but by Monday morning the barometer will be on the rise, which will cause fish to begin to move up in the water column and into shoreline areas in greater numbers and sizes. Tree-piles and deeper grass flats will be the places to find the quality fish today - and each day this week for that matter - as the largest fish in the lake remain deep under water.

The minor feeding migration of the day occurs during the hours after midnight, as fish feed out in open water structure areas above tree piles and grass flats. As the week advances however, this feeding period will suffer due to the lakes arriving at their lowest oxygen rate point of the day. Fish will become inactive until the sunlight starts photosynthesis again the following morning.

Looking ahead to the second half of this week, anglers can expect the early evening and morning feeding migrations to strengthen, as a high pressure system moves into our area, while the moon leads fish to feed during the 5 a.m.-8 p.m. hours of the day.

Hopefully, the atmospheric pressure builds to a range of 30.10 or better, which will cause more fish to feed near the shorelines and surfaces.

Just last week, I had several bass fishing trips as the new moon fishing week did not disappoint, by producing feeding bass of five pounds or larger along the shorelines with five foot depths or more. Once the sun was visible in the mornings, the smaller bass struck first, followed by a gradual increase in size until six to seven pound bass were quietly inhaling bait during the midmorning hours.

The "bite" of the big bass was hard to determine. The only clue my clients had was a "heavy feeling," which came after the "retrieve pause."

"I think there is a clump of weeds caught on my hook," was said several times this past week, to which I replied, "Set the hook, that's the sure sign of a quality bass."

Last Thursday's trip to Istokpoga produced quality bass from five to seven pounds from 9 a.m. to noon - just like I predicted it would - and all were caught in six feet of water along pencil reeds, lily pads, and cattails. I hate to sound like a broken record, but the seven inch black and blue Yum Dinger was unstoppable, and of course the Medlock half ounce black and blue triple brush guard jig tricked the biggest bass of the day, weighing in just under seven pounds.

Man 'o man, I love that jig. It makes for very easy and enjoyable jig fishing. Our totals for that day were, one light seven pound bass, one six and a half pounder, one six pound bass, two heavy three pounders, and eight in the two pound range, with another four in the dink-range. Lake Istokpoga's level is at 38.52 feet above sea level with the S-68 spillway gates open four inches flowing at 300 cubic feet per second. This lake has very little hydrilla out in open water, but there is some shoreline hydrilla here and there, although its not enough to really change or improve those areas. If you find healthy, thriving vegetation close to the deeper sections of the lake, you'll find feeding fish in the early mornings.

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

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