The fishing forecast for central Florida's freshwater anglers for this week includes the new moon week and a rainy season weather forecast that will continue the same weather pattern of the past four months. All fishing factors considered, the midmorning to early afternoon hours of the day will give anglers the best chances to catch fish.
The new moon will arrive Friday late in the day which will trigger fish to start to feed during the midmorning hours and continue for about three to four hours. With the moon arriving at the lunar orbit perigee five days after the new moon, it should be powerful enough to increase the duration of the feeding migration and keep the peak period at a higher rating for about two hours.
Predicting the atmospheric pressure forecast has proved to be very tricky, as high and low pressure systems are created out of nowhere without any previous indications as to the scope and timing of the change to come. If barometric pressure happens to increase a few hours before you get out on the lake, chances are far better that you'll be boating better catches. The thing to remember is, the deeper you fish, the larger and better quality fish you'll be setting the hook on.
The major feeding migration of the day occurs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with a peak period occurring from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. The one-in-ten rating will reach eight to nine today and a solid nine for tomorrow and a ten for Friday and Saturday. Over the past three days the majority of my best bass came in the midmorning hours and I expect that to not change too much going forward this week
The minor feeding migration of the day occurs just after the sunset and should last for about ninety minutes and achieve a rating of six to seven if there is no significant rain event. If barometric pressure has been on the rise all day, this period of the day could produce some very good fishing so watch your barometers.
Last Monday the barometric pressure was fairly low with a 29.88 Hg In reading. I knew heading out to Lake Istokpoga that the quality bass 'might' be feeding in the deepest areas of the lake if at all. I also thought that four pounders and smaller should be more probable since they are more able to migrate into more shallow waters than their larger members of the species.
However this was not the case. In fact as I fished both the large worms and jigs from 6:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. the majority of strikes were from gar and mudfish. But by staying in seven to eight feet of water depth, and staying back 30 to 40 feet from my target area vegetation, I was able to attract larger bass to move up from the deeper nine and 10-foot foot depths to strike my baits.
I employed a slightly different retrieve method. I slowed down my retrieve speed to a crawl but didn't pause it, but instead shook the bait while barely moving it forward. And as I was about to move the bait to the boat from the lakes' bottom, I would raise the bait in the water column about four feet and let it fall several times after I had the bait well past the vegetation's edge.
This technique resulted in four bites total for the entire day. The first strike of the day was a 26 1/2 inch by 18 1/2 inch girth bass which weighed 11.25 pounds. I barely felt the strike; I saw the line jump slightly more than I felt anything. I set the hook and immediately knew she was huge. She was my 18th double-digit bass of the year and the 68th of my career.
And one thing to note about 'boating' huge bass; this bass was barely hooked and I would have never got her to the boat much less net her if I did not take a passive approach to fighting the fish. I let this big girl take line and lead her back and forth, never allowing any slack line, before I put the net into the water. She went into the net without any thrashing; she was exhausted and gave up. About half of my trophy bass this year have been boated in this manner.
I talk to fellow bass anglers all the time that 'insist' that they must "turn the fish". They say that can't allow that bass to dictate the battle, but rather, they have to control the retrieval of the bass to the boat. They keep the rod up high, bent to the hilt, pulling back as if their lives depended on it. And this is why they have so many big bass come undone as the hook tears out as the bass rips free from the hook set.
I also do the exact opposite from my angling buddies. I keep the rod tip in the water, except to move the line off of some vegetation, and once into open water I free-spool the reel controlling the amount of drag with my thumb. Once she stops pulling hard, I set the reel and begin to reel her in towards the already waiting net. My bass don't tail-walk very often, and never jump, and when there is a barely-hooked hook placement, they don't come undone. So far this year, I've hooked eighteen double-digit bass and have zero come off the hook; I'm batting one thousand.
So all you big 'bad to the bone' bass anglers keep on trying to "turn that fish" and teach it a lesson while you're at it. Oh ya, and make sure you tell us all how many got away, don't lie, tell the truth, it will set you free, but it won't put that trophy bass in the boat.
Lake Istokpoga's level is at 39.20 feet above sea level with all gates closed at the S68 spillway.
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.