The Florida freshwater fishing forecast Wednesday through Sunday starts with high southwest winds today followed by moderate west winds Thursday which will drop temperatures 10 degrees. Ideal fishing conditions return for Friday. The weekend forecast predicts significant rainfall for Saturday and some rain for Sunday. All in all a mild winter weather pattern so far this year so act accordingly.
Yes, act accordingly. When was the last time a Florida winter was this enjoyable? The main winter fishing factor which determines when a ‘good fishing day’ occurs is water temperature. And water temps have been ranging in the upper 60s and more often in the lower 70s, enabling fish to eat several times per week. What more could we ask for?
About the only negative fishing factor so far this year — the factor that chases more anglers from the lake in all seasons of the year — is high winds. Today we’ll see southwest winds in the 20-25 mile-per-hour range which creates several physical challenges for anglers.
Besides the challenge of boat navigation through heavy wave action, the angler’s command of the fishing reel while casting, pitching or flipping comes into play. Now, most anglers use baitcaster reels instead of open-face reels; spinning reels. And if you prefer casting over pitching and flipping techniques, open-face reels are a better choice simply because they do not produce the dreaded backlash or ‘birds-nest’ of line on the reel spool in high winds.
Then there is the challenge of delivering the bait to the exact spot where you believe a fish will be. Heavy braided lines especially, are greatly affected by strong wind. But even the heavier mono and fluorocarbon lines present a greater challenge in accurately getting the bait to the desired location in 20 to 25 mile-per-hour gusts.
For this reason I always tie-on a very heavy bait and increase the bullet weight a couple of sizes, and even increase the hook size from a 5/0 to a 7/0 hook. And herein lies the added challenge, successfully causing the bait to enter the water as ‘natural’ as possible, and not producing the ‘brick in the water’ effect.
Florida largemouth bass are not frightened by huge unnatural disruption type splashes of baits entering the water. Not in the least. They just turn slowly away and swim to a new ambush location hoping you don’t spoil their effort again because they’re hungry and need to eat now.
Now you might be saying right now, “How does he know this, does it talk to the fish? Perhaps he thinks he’s the Fish Whisperer?” Well, I have had the privilege of many occurrences in my boat over the past 13 years of three anglers and myself, all presenting the same bait into the water, some like bricks and some with small splashes and a few with no splash at all, totally natural. And, 9-to-1 the more natural presentation angler sets the hook on a big bass. And in clear water lakes with great visibility I’ve seen bass investigate bait naturally presented while moving just a few feet from a brick being thrown at them. OK, let’s move on.
This takes practice, lots of practice. The key to accomplishing the ‘natural bait entry’ into the water, you must increase the velocity of the bait delivery speed to ‘very fast.’ But then you must be able to apply the thumb-brake to the baitcaster reel spool (obviously this can’t be accomplished with an open face reel) smoothly just as the bait reaches the spot you aimed for.
Needless to say, you can’t do this bait delivery with a high arch pitch or cast. The cast or pitch must be straight and directly at the spot with no arch, and lots of speed — going way too fast in fact. Then high-speed braking using the reel thumb on the spool, should stop the bait about six inches from the water’s surface, followed by a dropping of the rod tip to the water’s surface which in effect, places the bait into the water naturally.
Now, since your rod tip is already at the surface of the water, so too is your line. Which is perfect to keep your line out of the wind. Now retrieve your bait keeping the line in the water, and this will give you the added benefit of enabling you to feel the strike—rod is also in the ‘ready hookset position.’ Additionally this also keeps your line off the vegetation, and gives you the feel of the bait as if there is no high winds in play.
You can practice this technique at home in your yard or driveway. Place small containers throughout the area and put your bait into them without moving them at all. Try it on a calm day then perfect it on a windy day.
Best Fishing Days: Friday looks to be the best fishing day of the next five.
The Major Fishing Period: From 8 a.m. to noon a feed rating of 5 will occur with the peak feeding happening with the moonset at 10 a.m. today. Daily this period moves later by 35 minutes.
The Minor Fishing Period: From 4-7 p.m. a feed rating of 4 to 5 will occur with the peak feeding happening with the moon underfoot at 4:22 p.m. Daily this period moves later by 45 minutes. And Friday evening the underfoot and sunset periods combined to create the major feeding period of the day.
Looking Ahead: The prime monthly periods are: Feb. 23 to 28, March 8 to 14, March 25 to 31, April 8 to 14 and April 23 to 29.
Dave Douglass is a bass fishing guide and teacher on 25 lakes, from the towns of Kissimmee to Clewiston. Visit HighlandsBassAngler.com for complete details. Phone: 863-381-8474. Email: DavidPDouglass@hotmail.com.