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Tuesday, Jul 28, 2015
Local Sports

Seasonal winds demand different fishing tactics

Highland Bass Angler


The fishing forecast for central Florida's freshwater anglers for the remainder of the first week of November includes a moderate to strong wind and a moon waxing toward the fist-quarter lunar phase. As is standard with the end of a new moon week, afternoon fishing typically is the best time of day to catch fish. And with the orbit of the moon arriving today at the perigee, I expect this to be even more true.

The wind has certainly been the largest negative fishing factor over the past several days, and if weather forecasts stand true, this will not change. Moderate to strong winds make fishing in large lakes very demanding, challenging angler's ability to cast and pitch accurately along with making boating from hole-to-hole uncomfortable to say the least. However, the smaller lakes mostly provide anglers with less hostile conditions, along with protection from high winds on the up windy side of the lake thanks to its natural tree-line.

There are different fishing strategies that can be used in high winds and waves that are productive. If, for instance, you prefer a larger shallow type lake like I do, and you happen to know where the fish migrate away from shorelines, anchoring down or drifting with the wind over the top of secondary migration route structures can successfully be done with minimal effort - as long as you don't mind feeling like a buoy on the water.

I have found a great deal of success by motoring up wind from my open-water fishing hole and drifting with a few lines in the water about 70 yards back over the area and repeating the process each time, taking a track just a few feet from the previous spot until I start getting strikes.

Depending on how fast the boat is moving, I'll use rattling crank baits and spinner baits of a larger size, and my trusty large plastic worms and larger swim baits. The trick is to make sure the bait is bouncing off of the bottom or swimming closely to it. To achieve this I use drop-shot, Carolina-rig and Texas-rig riggings.

For me, sitting in my bass boat with two rods out, drifting over productive areas seems more like a day off from fishing, so to speak. "Fishing," for me, is standing all day on the deck at the trolling motor pitching and flipping close to one thousand times in eight hours into thick vegetation along several shoreline areas - a workout to say the least - but one that I prefer over the typical the R & R approach.

I don't like anchoring down and casting to deeper water fishing hole structures, because if you happen to hook into a huge giant bass, I like to have the option of fighting the bass by moving the boat with the trolling motor. Having the ability to quickly position the boat correctly while trying to get a bass out of a tree-pile can be the difference between a "break off story" and a "wall-hanger trophy." Being anchored by conventional systems or hydraulic remote systems takes away the ability to quickly move to better handle the fight of the fish, which is always more intense in the first thirty seconds.

All it takes is one time of battling a huge bass that you can't control because she pulls your line into a tree-pile branch, or thick hydrilla, in order to tear away from the hook, to make you stop using that anchor. Having the ability to change the direction of the line in relation to the difficulty of the fight right at the beginning increases the percentage of chance in getting the fish into open water for more control.

Over half of my bass weight 10 pounds or more I've caught in my career have been barely hooked, and if I didn't play the bass with finesse and patience, instead of trying to "turn the fish" with brute force, I wouldn't have boated them. Before I figured this out, back when I used to think that over-powering the large bass was appealing - it looked cool on TV shows - I lost literally dozens of huge bass per year. Yes it took me a few years of self imposed frustration trying to be a "power bass angler" before I wised up.

Atmospheric pressure will be dropping today somewhat as a low pressure system moves into the state late today and tomorrow. However by the weekend, it will reverse itself as another moderate high pressure system move through the gulf. A mild change of 29.88 to 30.08 In Hg is what is forecasted. In other words, fish won't be moving all that far to compensate.

The major feeding migration of the day occurs from 2-7 p.m. and will have a peak period starting at 2:30 p.m. and lasting for 90 minutes due to the orbit perigee increasing the numbers of feeding fish migrating at the same time. The one-in-10 rating during this peak feeding time will reach a seven, but the daily overall average will be down in the three to four range at best.

The minor feeding migration of the day occurs from 3-7 a.m. and will have a peak period from 4-6 a.m. That will have a rating of four and maybe five today. However, as the second half of the week progresses into the weekend, this migration will build in duration and intensity. I expect a six rating by Friday and Saturday.

The weekend will produce good fishing during the sunrise and sunset. With the moon very close to earth during the first quarter phase both feeding migration periods will have feed ratings in the six to seven range for about two hours, the hour before and after the solar events.

Looking ahead to next week, anglers can expect a constant northeasterly wind of 7-10 mph and a steadier barometer with little to no drastic changes.

Lake Istokpoga's level is the maximum annual high pool of 39.55 feet above sea level with the S68 spillway gates opened five inches and flowing 650 cubic feet per second.

This fishing column and additional fishing information and advice is online at

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