Fishing this time of year can be great or horrible. While some folks like to think fishing is luck, there’s a little more to it than just wetting a line.
Like people, fish have things that tell them when its time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For us, it’s the clock or an empty stomach that say when it’s time to eat. Fish different, and if you can figure out what triggers their appetite you’re half way there.
There are a multitude of factors that influence when it’s meal time for fish. One is the tides; another is the solunar table; and the last, I think, is a barometric pressure change.
If anyone is wondering what that is, it’s very simple to explain. When a cold front moves in or a thunderstorm, hurricane or tropical storm develops, the atmosphere experiences a change in barometric pressure.
Once the front passes and high pressure builds, fishing typically slows. This is not as big a deal in the summer when fronts are very weak and don’t change things much, but as winter approaches fronts are typically severe and can drop temperatures 30 degrees.
This does a couple of things. It drops the water temperature drastically on the flats and also pushes some of the water out of the bay as wind behind a front typically will shift out of the north 20 knots. This mixed with an already lower tide during the winter makes the tide super low. Areas you caught fish a few days before will not have a drop of water in them.
This time of year fronts are strong and planning your trips around them will make you catch a lot more fish. The rivers are great areas to fish because they provide deeper cuts where the fish drop off on lower tides. I always tell people that low tides mean there are fewer areas to fish, but there also are less areas for the fish to go. This can mean a pothole on a flat with low water surrounding it will make all the fish be there. Or when you’re fishing creeks, head for the middle where all the fish like to drop off. These are common situations this time of year and make easy pickings for catching a lot of fish.
One last tip – and most important. When fishing during late fall and winter, remember that cold fronts bring bad weather at times. Make sure you check the forecast the evening before you head out and use good judgment. No fish is worth a risk of getting hurt. The water is unforgiving and things can easily turn ugly.
Jason Prieto is one of three Ruskin-based fishing guides and charter captains who share this column. He can be reached at (813) 727-9890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.