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warmer

Lake Cycles: Tough Fishing in Florida

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What do you guys think the factors might be that have led to tough fishing in much of Florida for the past couple of years.  I went to a tournament yesterday, and couldnt get a limit of keepers.  I am officially hanging up the "the fish havent turned on yet" phrase.  if anyone wants it for their own, im selling it cheap.

responses have generally been one of 3 things.

LOW WATER? The standard response that I give and hear is LOW WATER, but on the Kissimmee chain the water has maintained reasonable levels throughout.  A little low perhaps, but nothing shocking.

PRESSURE? Another standard answer is pressure, but I'm not satisfied by this either.  I do see a lot of boats on the kissimmee chain on a weekend (and low water in other places has only increased the amount of traffic), but 200 boat tournaments get lost on this much water.  I never feel like i have to fish crowded.  Beside that, i have fished local lakes with boat on boat on boat and everyone catches fish.

PH AND O2 CONTENT? uh... maybe...

but im wondering if its more than that... if it could be...

Natural Cycles? Im wondering if fish/lakes have off years as a part of a naturally occurring cycles.  it seems to me that this is a reasonable explanation.  Maybe there was a bad hatch for a few years of bass or forage fish.  Maybe the weather screwed up a couple of spawns (hurricanes), so all of a sudden the majority of a spawn class might not be available in the population.  what if a lake had too many shell-crackers and they made it hard on the bass population because of eating eggs?  what if their were a few years where the forage fish were minimal in population?  

It just seems to me that this is a more likely explanation for such a significant and sustained downphase of fishing.

Would be interested in input.

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I have not experienced what you have. The Kissimmee chain, the Stick Marsh, Blue Cypress, and south have all done well for me.

For example:

Monday on Stick Marsh: 1/2 day 41 bass.

Tuesday on Godwin: 1/2 day 31 bass.

Thursday on Stick Marsh 76 bass.

Friday on Stick Marsh: 92 bass.

Saturday on Stick marsh: 1/2 day 40 bass.

Sunday on Stick Marsh: 21 bass in 2:45 mins.

Low water has limited areas of fishability, but the people that I know fishing Okeechobee are still doing well.

Jim Passamore's report on Toho: The bass have moved to slightly deeper water, but they are easier to locate than in the grass and tend to hang in the same area longer. We have seen morning as well as afternoons clients catching 20 to 25 bass.

Fla. Fed. 4th qual on Istokpoga: Top 4 anglers:

1 A. J. Willequer 5868 Harris Chain Bassmasters 6/6 26.25  7.99 10.66 15.59 26.25 75

2 Leon J. Roy 4718 Big Bend Bass Club 6/6 21.89   7.37 14.52 21.89 74

3 David Glenn 97 Winter Haven Lunker Lovers 6/6 20.70   10.82 9.88 20.70 75

4 Jacob Whitman 5188 LK Worth-Boynton BCH B/M 6/6 16.31   7.99 8.32 16.31 73

The reports on the Harris and Butler chains by Tim Fey have all indicated likewise.

They have moved to summer patterns which means look more to structure than cover.

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okay okay, so not all fishing in florida is tough now.  lake kissimmee itself has been tough on me.  even shell bars outside lines and brush piles were stingy on sunday....  

there has been a day here and there yes, where they have been eating, and every tournament will have a few people that catch them.  but its the surprising amount of avid fisherman on the kissimmee chain, that know fish, and know water, and know patterns that cant put a limit together that shocks me... my memory is that it has not long been this way.

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George,

For those of us like Vince who are getting slammed by Kissimmee, define structure in the big K.  I can't find any significant drop off's or ledges and I have only stumbled across 1 or 2 brush piles.  If the water is down and not moving, like it is now, I have a very difficult time locating fish.  Any suggestions.

FD

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Some of my old favorite lakes are dead. Lakes that I used to catch 30+ Bass on average, per trip and now am getting nothing at times.

I'm still slamming them in some pits that I fish. It just seems that some of the Florida lakes are off from what they were a few years back. I've always heard that lakes go through cycles. I'm no expert on it though.  

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Summer pattern in S. Florida:

Fish will move to the deepest water they can - not very deep here. For a good deal of the day they will suspend - not very active.

Look for structure adjacent to a sharply contrasting depth - contrasting is not neccesarily a major change. Sonar equipment becomes very important during this period.

Once fish are found, don't leave them. Watch the suspension depth. As the fish move up in the column expect feeding activity and make the most of it.

When fishing something as big as Kissimmee nothing beats good local information. Talk with the people at Camp Mack.

Weeds are cover, however remember that weed lines can form a type of structure. A few inches of depth change can be enough to hold bass that are waiting to move into shallower depths for feeding.

If you see bait and suspect bass but are getting no bites than slow down. It's not the easiest thing to do but at times it will make all the difference. Of course the inverse can also be true. We are presently catching with a fast retrieve of a 1/2 ounce rattle trap.

It's fun to jump from lake to lake but also keep in mind when do so that every lake down here is substantially different. During the summer months you are far better working those lakes that you know best.

Last but not least, and I know it is the dreaded thing, a day spent with a qualified guide using artificial baits can be a very good investment.

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was that an advertisement? lol

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I believe Warmer is right. I think many of these florida lakes go through cycles. The last 2.5 years have been severe drought. Most lakes have lost a tremendous amount of water. Water temps are way up and the dissolved oxygen is low. The bass will still feed but seem to feed less and will not do much to get a meal. My catch rate has significantly decreased during this time span. If the water does not return soon fish kills will be seen on some of the smaller lakes. If the water returns in summer rains or a tropical low, I believe the fishing will also return to earlier levels.

Those are my thoughts and I am praying for rain.  ;)

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I believe Warmer is right. I think many of these florida lakes go through cycles. The last 2.5 years have been severe drought. Most lakes have lost a tremendous amount of water. Water temps are way up and the dissolved oxygen is low. The bass will still feed but seem to feed less and will not do much to get a meal. My catch rate has significantly decreased during this time span. If the water does not return soon fish kills will be seen on some of the smaller lakes. If the water returns in summer rains or a tropical low, I believe the fishing will also return to earlier levels.

Those are my thoughts and I am praying for rain. ;)

Amen brother! Manatee county, where I live has seen the worst of it.It has only rained 2 short times since February.All the water here is stagnant,the fish just downright stink, and if doesnt improve I expect to see fish kills this year

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I'm in the majority here,Struggling.  My confidence lake has always been Kissimmee. Least ways till now. Old producers like shell bar by Grassy,outside Grass-line in deep water etc just aren't giving up much if any.Maybe Warmer is on to something.

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was that an advertisement? lol

No, it's not an ad. An ad would have said something along the lines of come fish with me.

Sorry that the only thing you gleaned from what I said was your mis-impression of my information.

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George Welcome,

Thank you for your observations and providing such specific

suggestions. Knowing what to do as conditions change seems

to be the difference between "Tough Fishing in Florida" and

wacking 'em! You and your clients seem to be doing just fine.

8-)

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Thank you for your observations and providing such specific

suggestions. Knowing what to do as conditions change seems

to be the difference between "Tough Fishing in Florida" and

wacking 'em!

roadwarrior,

im sure it must seem that we are all such ungrateful novices around here in response to the mr. george welcome's input, but i assure you its not the case. in fact, i think perhaps mr. george welcome isnt giving us quite the credit we deserve.

my question had nothing to do with how to find fish in the summer, it had to do with lake cycles (i have adjusted for summer fishing in kissimmee - shell bars brush piles, breaks, outside lines). the last two years summer fishing has been tougher than summers in the past (yes, a few people at a large tournament are going to bang out a good stringer, but a lot of quality fisherman are struggling more than in the past.) i think what george is telling me is apples to oranges, and maybe my tough florida fishing was too broad. i dont care so much about the fishing in stick marsh. and i dont doubt that shiner guides drifting above hydrilla in toho are still able to catch a reasonable ammount of fish. in fact, toho on the outside is still good w/ artificials, but what about kissimmee. why the funk?

george says: USER ERROR

i say: DOWN CYCLE

oh well, maybe i should just go hire a guide.

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was that an advertisement? lol
your mis-impression of my information.

george,

you responded to my post with a shotgun blast of numbers to discredit my impression of the fishing in florida.  

granted my experience on these lakes is limited to a few in polk county, kissimmee chain, and harris chain, but what i am experiencing is not a result of a lack of understanding of summer patterns.

e.g. the pros at the recent tournament on wheeler were shocked at "how far the lake has come".  a lake producing significantly better numbers and size is evidence of a turn around.  

for the better part of this year, if you had a stringer above about 12lbs in kissimmee you were headed to the weigh in because you had a chance to be in the money.  the same last year.  i can remember a time in the not to distant past that if i didnt have better than 15lbs there was no point in going to the weigh in.

as i said in my post above.

you clearly believe it is an issue of USER ERROR.

you are certainly as entitled to your opinion, as i am entitled to believe you are out to lunch.

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Well, I'm not speaking for George, but I'm thinking the drought hasn't killed all the fish and they gotta eat! When conditions change, fish move which results in changing patterns perhaps, but certainly making adjustments. The "tough" part is finding the fish. Once you find 'em, the catching is usually the easy part.

8-)

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roadwarrior,

the worst part @ kissimmee is that while the drought is real, the water levels have stayed up and the spawns seem to have been successful.  im well aware that the fishing changes in the summer.  when i compare, summer to summer, spring to spring, fall to fall... that is where im seeing the falloff.

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Thanks for the input George. Always something to learn.

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Here is another question....How does low water levels affect the spawn and subsequent fish populations.....

In Jan 2007 Lake K was at 49.2, instead of 52.5, which is the normal pool for Jan.  52.5 is also the maximum level for the lake.  Normal pull down is in June when, under normal conditions, they pull it to 49.0.  The only problem is that the lake level was already below 49.0 in June 2007.

Fast forward a year.  The highest elevation for the past 12 months is 51.0 in November 2007.  The spawn for the last two years has seen lake levels at least 1.5 ft below normal pool levels.  This has been the situation for at least two spawning periods (I only have 18 months of data) and probably 4, dating back to the panic in 2004 when we had huge amounts of rainfall during the summer.  Since that time, it appears that the Water Management Districts have overreacted and are keeping the lake BELOW the zone B regulated level.

Now I am not a biologist, but you take a

35,000 acre lake  +  nine ft average depth + 1.5 ft below average during the spawn for four years = bad news for fishing.

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Lee, consider this. The bass have no choice but to spawn. They will find a location and adquate water. The question is: was the location adequately protected from excessive predation? If not then obviously the recruitment will be greatly decreased which will effectively decrease populations in the future.

The flip side to that lies in the spawn of their forage. Unlike Bass, Threadfins can abort a spawn, if they don't like the conditions, and resorb their eggs. If there is inadquate cover due to water levels then the forage availability decreases, which in turn reduces the viability of the recruitment.

At this time a complete relocation of the bass is being experienced creating a need for searching new possiblities. This is time consuming and difficult on large bodies of water. Only time will give us a definitive answer however.

We are experiencing the same things on the Marsh with one added factor. Complete loss of vegetation during the hurricanes and no replacement since. Basically this has caused for finding new locations and some different techniques of fishing.

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to reply to the original ?

this yr. in the lakes im fishin seem to be a down yr. also.i think there are different factors in lakes.there are natural land locked lakes that are different in alot of ways compared to resevoirs, impoundments and flow in and out lakes like K.the drought has affected most all lakes in fla.there are some waters like rodmans that the water level and quality hasnt affected it to a damaging degree.lake K may be in this catagory i dont know.but it has had a dramatic adverse affect the big O.in the natural lakes i fish it has had a major impact,in water levels, water quality,plant growth.all which affects the spawn,growth rate,etc.

this spring was the most unsettled ive noticed in a few yrs.and then it turns off to extremely high temps which raises the water temp unnaturally.in most of the lakes i fish this has shut the bite down dramatically.yes, there are still a few who seem to find fish but overall its tough,at least tougher than last yr.

there are always exceptions.3 yrs. ago orange was almost dried up and bass fishin was pooooor.then the water came up some and it had a great spawn and now its payin big dividends even in low water conditions.the grass is plentiful and healthy and pressure is low due to only one ramp open .its not unusual to go and catch 50+ 2lb. or better bass.

maybe some of the guides and the top bass anglers around arent havin any trouble adapting,although i believe some are.the avg. joe basser is experiencing something different in fla. lakes this yr. and yrs. to come if our water levels,quality and management dont improve.

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