The Florida freshwater fishing forecast for the third week of February involves normal winter type weather for the first half of this week and a moon that is a few days past full and waning toward the last-quarter phase arriving Saturday.
All fishing factors considered, the next five days will be the afternoon angler's delight as the moon and water temperatures combine to create the major feeding migration of the day.
The major feeding migration occurs from 12:30-4:30 p.m. over the next four days. Since water temperatures have dropped due to the recent cold fronts of the past four days, fish are deeper in the warmer water and won't be moving into shallow shoreline feeding areas until the high-temp of the day occurs.
Helping the high-temp period is the moon phase. The normal post-full moon affect on fish is to trigger early afternoon feeding migrations when the moon is underfoot. This works excellent with the natural rise in water temperature. I expect the peak period to occur an hour before and after the high-temp period of the day. A rating of 5-6 can be expected throughout the week.
The minor feeding migration occurs as the sunrise and the moonset occurs-today 7:02 and 7:43 a.m. respectively. Remember to adjust this feed period later into the day by about fifty-three minutes daily. Due to water temperatures in the lower sixties again, the rating will be in the 3-5 range at best.
This article in full and other fishing info and tools can be accessed online at the HighlandsBassAngler.com website.
The 'Istokpoga.info' webpage offers the latest Lake Istokpoga management news and information. Links to management agencies' Istokpoga webpages offer easy access in one location to all available real-time information. The next four paragraphs demonstrate the type of information that is provided in a 'real-time' format-links, info, data, and graphs.
The latest Istokpoga.info news web page: The county weed managers will be treating floating invasive weeds such as Hyacinth and Water Lettuce, along the north, west, and south shorelines. The three shoreline areas have a combined total acreage of 40 acres targeted. Since all these areas have native vegetation at various levels of density, the 'spot-treatment' of blown-in floating vegetation will not cause fish to move out of those areas, except for the very large 'thick floating mat' areas. In those cases, fish move due to habitat change and not due to the presence of chemicals in the water column.
Lake Istokpoga's level is one and a half inches below the annual maximum high pool mark of 39.50 feet above sea level, 39.42 feet. As of Saturday at 9:30 a.m. there was one S68 spillway gate open at two feet and flowing 380 cubic feet per second. From the five SFWMD Istokpoga data sites indicate there is a two inch push in water depth down wind across the lake when winds blow 15-20 mph-39.30' to 39.48'. And today the lake has approximately 27,700 acres of inundated area.
Also there were over 2200, 24-inch or larger bass, 'estimated' as caught during the 2012-2013 season. I know I didn't provide any of my numbers for that year, which would have added an additional 32 bass over 24 inches. In the 2013 season that number improved to 52, 24-plus inch bass-that's an average of one bass over 26 inches every seventeen days and one bass between 24-25 7/8 inches every eleven days.
According to the Army Corp of Engineers Graphical Plot last year the lake had a level fluctuation of sixteen inches, with the lowest level during middle of July (38 feet above sea level) and the highest level during the last week of October and the first week of November (39.60 feet above sea level) Last year on this date the lake was two inches lower.
Bass Fishing Report of the past week comes from Lake Istokpoga. Last Tuesday a total of six bass were caught with the largest just barely over six pounds and an average size of four pounds. We set the hook on a few more but never got them close to the boat.
However, last Wednesday we boated a 7.50 pound a 5.5 pound and two four-pound bass. I had one double-digit bass break the surface (even with my rod tip submersed in the water by a foot or so) and tail-walked violently across the surface for four feet, successfully ripping free from the hookset. I've seen enough huge bass, and this one was certainly over ten pounds.
Then, as if that wasn't enough punishment, while working my bait in bulrush with 7.5 foot depths I felt the infamous "dead weight feel" on my line. No click, no tap, no movement whatsoever, just a lot of heaviness, suddenly. I set the hook harder than usual-due to losing the previous bass-and watched my line get dragged through thick bulrush for twenty feet, as my extra heavy 8' flippin stick got bent in half as it passed the front of the boat. I dropped my rod tip into the water to keep her from jumping but the line went limp as I did, and the hook came up empty. I inspected my hook only to find a piece of bass lip still attached.
All my fishing client could say was, "Wow, I've never seen a huge rod like that get overpowered like that!" My reply was a highly-charged but resolved one, "I have and she's going in the boat before the year is out." I released a 14-pound, 15 ounce bass (that read 15 lbs on the first reading on my scale), in this same area eight months ago. I suspect it was her or one of her sisters. Either way that 'big girl' gave me a rain-check on my hook.
Dave Douglass is a bass fishing guide and conservationist in Central Florida. This column can be accessed in full at BassFishingForecast.com and FloridaBassFishingForecast.com. Main website: HighlandsBassAngler.com Phone: 863-381-8474. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.