The fishing forecast for central Florida's freshwater anglers for this week will be dominated by a full moon and 90-degree weather with some clouds but no rainfall.
Wind speeds will be ideal for keeping comfortable while on the water and barometric pressure will fluctuate slightly near the 30 In Hg range. In other words, fish will maintain the same feeding migration pattern that you've all been used to over the past week.
The major feeding migration of the day occurs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. as the full moon arrives tomorrow. With the nighttime skies forecasted to be mostly clear, fish will feed heavier during this time, and thus the daytime feeding migrations will diminish slightly.
The peak period will occur from 10-11:30 a.m. and reach a seven on the ten-scale rating system, with ten being best. By the weekend expect this rating to fall to five or six.
The minor feeding migration of the day occurs during the sunset and sunrise hours of the day. I list the sunset first because with the recent drop in water temperatures into the upper 70s during the nighttime hours, there has been more feeding action occurring during the late evenings. This feeding migration trend will continue into the weekend. The feed rating should reach five from 7-9 p.m.
On Aug. 10, the Summer Mystery Bass Weight Contest was won by Jeff Bell of Avon Park. He was the 57th person to enter a guess on the featured bass, which weighed 10 pounds, four ounces. On Monday, he and I, along with our friend Ken Bazzel, also of Avon Park, headed out to Lake Istokpoga to enjoy the half-day free bass fishing trip that Jeff had won.
The fishing trip started out slow during the first hour of the morning but by 8 a.m. Ken boated a nice four-pound bass. I had a few bass the size of my seven inch worm strike but I shook them off without setting the hook.
Jeff then set the hook on what looked to be a very good sized bass but she came undone as the hook ripped free. This type of weak hook-set placement continued for all of us as we each lost a couple of middle-sized bass, which looked to be in the two to four pound range.
At this point we decided to employ a pause of two to three second before we set the hook. The plastic baits produced by Yum have impregnated scent which I have found that bass will not let go of, no matter what. So we placed our bets on a delayed hook-set and continued on. Within 15 minutes Ken set the hook again and boated another in the four pound range. This time the hook-set was solid and we hoped the hook-set delay tactic would continue to yield success.
Then Jeff's turn came as he reeled down using a three second delay and set the hook on the largest bass of the day measuring twenty-two inches long by sixteen inches of girth-weight of 6 lb 13 oz. It was no easy fish to battle, as this bass pulled Jeff's line through the pencil reeds and became rapped up near the surface. Using the trolling motor, I powered the boat into the reed patch and netted the bass just in time, as she was barely hooked in the corner of the mouth. It was a great looking bass, absolutely perfect and healthy.
Not long after that I boated a three pounder and battled what I knew was a bass in the six to eight pound range, 'but' she came undone as she only had the bottom half of the worm, without the hook, in her mouth-the hook still embedded in the worm went flying over my head as I played the fish along side the boat. The sheer strength of the largemouth Florida bass to battle as 'if' hooked for five to ten seconds, when not being hooked, always amazes me.
We each boated a few more one to two pounders, and lost a few more as the bass kept short-striking the baits all day, instead of engulfing the baits as they do when aggressively feeding.
We all agreed that if Columbus didn't come to America when he did, we wouldn't be freely fishing the best lake in Florida right now. Once we got off the water, we toasted America by celebrating at the Wild Turkey Tavern; drinking a few cold ones and eating some perfectly grilled foods.
Dave Douglass is a bass fishing guide and conservationist since 2006 in Highlands County. Website: HighlandsBassAngler.com and BassFishingForecast.com Phone: 863-381-8474. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.