Thursday, Apr 17, 2014

Fishing starting to heat up


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The fishing forecast for this week starts out with a weather forecast of rainy afternoons and evenings, a last-quarter moon phase that is one week from orbit apogee, and a 'feeding bite' right when Florida freshwater anglers like it in the month of July, during the cooler early morning hours.

With the daytime high temperatures reaching the middle to lower 90s as 'the summer norm', and with the wind speeds usually less than five miles per hour, it 'almost' becomes unbearable to be out on the water during the midday hours. Some cloud cover and occasional gusts of wind don't happen often enough it seems.

This is the time of year that I really earn my nickname "Red" because even with the one hundred sun blocker and large brim safari hat, long sleeves safari shirt and long legged safari pants, I still display my Scottish heritage proudly by turning that beautiful crimson color for a few hours in the evenings, thanks dad.

I have discovered over my fishing years that the fish also make significant adjustments to endure the intense summer sun. For starters, fish go deep enough to find water temperatures in the 78 to 80 degree range.

They also migrate through the lake until they discover thick healthy thriving vegetation that is along the deeper sections of shorelines. And when they do swim into more shallow areas it is only for a brief time and during weather situations when hunting prey is easiest; bright sunlight areas within pencil reeds, lily pads, and hydrilla in shallow lakes and Kissimmee grass and shrimp grass in the deeper lakes all have feeding frenzies for short durations.

So with the summer weather factors at the 'full heat' setting, ideal fishing days occur, during the week before the new moon--last-quarter lunar phase period, and during the week leading up to the full moon--first-quarter lunar phase period.

Both monthly lunar periods give anglers the most enjoyable hours of the day to fish, in the cooler early morning hours and cooler late evening hours. Since Florida's stormy season is unpredictable and potentially dangerous out on the lake, I suggest that anglers take what they can get for ideal hours on the water and go fishing during the early mornings.

This week anglers will have just that, the best fishing days of the month. The majority of fish will feed from safe-light to noon this week at depths of eight to 15 feet.

Barometric pressure will remain a little below 30 In Hg for the next three days, so fish will stay where they are today at least until the midweek when atmospheric pressure slowly increases to 'ideal high pressure' in the 30.06 plus range by next Sunday.

With a 60 percent chance of rain during the p.m. hours forecasted until Wednesday, and a warning of frequent lightning strikes, afternoon and evening fishing will be a challenge.

If you are out there when storms and lightning become active remember to keep both the big motor and trolling motor in the water, to act as a 'ground' and get lower in the boat than both motors.

Don't get caught 'too far away from safety' that is, in a building or vehicle--not a tree--when storms start to form. Know how much time it takes your boat and motor to get from your fishing hole, to these safe zones. The fishing will be just as good tomorrow, especially if you're alive.

The major feeding migration of the day occurs from 5 to 10 a.m. for the first half of this week. The peak period today happens from 5 to 7:30 a.m. and should tip the ratings scale at four to five as the daily average. However, a rating of ten will occur when the moon is directly overhead and as the sun rises above the eastern tree line.

I expect this high feeding rate to remain near nine all this week during the morning hours. But the remainder of the day the rating will drop to four or below as the norm and average.

The minor feeding migration of the day occurs from 6 to 9 p.m. for the first part of this week and will have a rating of four to five during the peak period of sunset hour.

Check radar weather maps before you go fishing to see if your lake has a good chance of remaining storm and lightning free. And again, determine the fastest, shortest route to safety.

The Fourth of July fishing conditions could not be any better. There will be perfect fishing weather and factors from Thursday through to next Tuesday.

The chance of rain, drops below 30 percent, the winds will be moderate at five to eight miles per hour daily, and atmospheric pressure will increase putting fish higher in the water column.

I'll be on several lakes from the 4th through the 10th of July taking advantage of the best fishing days of the month. I'm predicting several bass over 10 pounds.

Lake Istokpoga's level is at 38.10 feet above sea level with four gates at the S-68 spillway opened six inches and flowing 700 cubic feet per second. The hydrilla acreage is the lowest I've seen it since 2003, in fact, I would be surprised to if there was more than 200 acres total scattered throughout the lake.

The turbidity levels each year increase as the sediment from weed management of previous years increases on the shallow lake's bottom. "Shading" is a condition in the lake where sediment is suspended by wave action, to levels where aquatic plants that are invasive--fast growth traits--can't get enough sunlight to grow properly. These weeds dieback or die out completely, which is exactly what is happening on this great lake.

This year was the first year in over a decade where the Fish and Wildlife Commission didn't need to have a late spring early summer hydrilla treatment event. Without some 7-10 foot deep hydrilla or other grasses in the eight, eight-foot or deeper fishing holes in this lake, the bass will suffer some of the lowest dissolved oxygen rates this lakes had in many, many years.

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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