Saturday, Apr 19, 2014

Pre-spawn ignites bass fishing


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The fishing forecast for Florida's freshwater anglers for this week includes a strong new moon phase with the new moon occurring today and the lunar orbit perigee occurring on Wednesday.

All the various solunar charts and forecasts for Florida's freshwater lakes predict excellent fishing factors aligning to create above average conditions for catching bass over the next seven days.

A cold weather front passed through the state yesterday, and a drop in atmospheric pressure occurred 12 hours before rainfall. The last three days of October registered barometric pressure reading above 30.15 In Hg which enabled bass of all sizes to move more shallow for longer periods-three to five-foot depths.

Today the barometer will average about 29.88 In Hg and continue near this low mark until tomorrow morning when a high pressure system starts to move into our area.

Water temperatures have dropped from the summertime average of 83-85 degrees to an average of 72-75 degrees and this has significantly increased the rates of dissolved oxygen levels within the shoreline vegetation.

Bass will now be able to stay more shallow to feed and digest foods for several hours each day. Today's barometric pressure forecast does predict a 28.85 In Hg range which will greatly increase the challenge to locate bass. Bass probably won't feed normally again until tomorrow when the beginning of a high pressure system takes affect.

With the cold front dropping water temperatures into the upper 60s for a daily low, bass will start to prepare to spawn.

Over the next three weeks bass will 'bulk-up' in preparation for the energy required to produce roe. If the weather forecasts for the month of November become true, I expect bass to be in full spawning mode by Thanksgiving or perhaps a week earlier.

When daily average water temps become 67-71 degrees all bass will experience reproductive triggers. Again, if extended weather forecasts are even close to accurate, the 'majority of the bass spawn' for 2013-14 could be over before the New Year.

Remember, it's the temperature of water that triggers the seasonal bass spawn, and 'not' the full moon. All the full moon does, is cause bass to feed more successfully at night, nothing more.

If it was the full moon that determined when bass spawn, then they would spawn during all the full moons of the year, wouldn't they? And they don't, so case closed.

Contrary to the "Rick Taylor" method of calculating bass fishing times and periods, I have found in my records that the moon cycle closest to the lunar orbit perigee produces the best fishing periods of any given month.

And for the next four months the perigee occurs no less than three days away from the new moon phase. Both December and January have new moons that are less than a day apart from the perigee.

The best time of day to fish over the next four days is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. An overall feed rating of seven is expected today.

Monday I expect the rating to climb to eight where it will remain until Wednesday--the weekend weather stalled what would be an aggressive feeding migration but today's change in weather will normalize feeding migrations today or at the very least by tomorrow morning. The further north you're located in Florida the sooner the 'Bite' will turn back on.

Over the past week or so, I have noticed that the baits with very aggressive action and noise, and vibration, attract the most strikes.

The slower your retrieve is, the larger the bass will be that strike. Also, the larger the bait used, the larger the bass it will attract. Plus additional noise and vibration signals to predators that their prey is feeding successfully, and successful feeding bait fish move slower and create a larger vibration signature within the water column.

A 'walking the dog' type retrieve, for all baits, I have found works best. I also have been adding a 'pause' in the walking of the bait along the bottom of the lake in the five to seven foot depths along shorelines.

The rattling weights combined with additional glass rattles (3/16th ounce rattling bullet weights) in large body and large length plastics produce a 'wacky-type action' that creates a reaction strike.

I've been getting the strike when the bait rests against the base of a vegetation type. They're not hitting the bait when it swims from vegetation base to vegetation base. A large bass strikes hiding bait fish and smaller bass strike moving of swimming bait fish. So if you're not experiencing large bass striking your bait, try pausing it for fifteen seconds before resuming your retrieve.

Large jigs have been starting to work in shell beds, and cattails. Again, adding noise and a scented trailer like an Ugly Otter type plastic works very well. Think short advances coupled with vibrating noises, and pauses when you feel vegetation resistance-moving the bait as if to hide the bait from predators.

This time of year, the sunrise and sunset feeding migrations really start to turn on just before the sun is fully visible and when it's completely over the horizon, respectively. Smaller bass have been hitting top water baits that are on a constant retrieve. However, if you use a pause with the top water bait, lasting for about a minute, the larger bass will slam the bait.

A Devils Horse top water bait works real well to accomplish this type of top water retrieve presentation. A distressed floating bait fish, presents too much of an easy meal for big bass to resist.

They won't chase their potential meal, they are lazy and prefer to wait in ambush, or wait for wounded bait fish to enter their feeding area.

This fishing column and additional fishing information and advice is online at www.FloridaLakesFishingForecast.com.

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: davidpdouglass@hotmail.com.

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