What a difference a day makes

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The howling wind that churned up Charlotte Harbor on Thursday seemed to help my cause, while Friday’s picture-perfect weather hindered it.

By MATT STEVENS
Man on the Pier

Fishing is fickle, plain and simple. One day you’re catching fish after fish and can hardly keep a bait in the water. The next day, you might as well be wetting a line in the bathtub.

That night-and-day scenario is part of what makes fishing challenging, and keeps anglers guessing.

Thursday was a solid day for sheepshead at Ponce de Leon Park in Punta Gorda despite the 25-mph wind that blew consistently all day. But it was actually the wind that helped create ideal conditions, not destroy them. The wind turned the Harbor water quite murky, and visibility was low. This helped me catch the sheepshead that were hanging out close to the pier, as the murky water kept me and my tackle hidden from the fish.

After the cold front passed through Thursday night, Friday morning dawned clear, calm, cold and sunny. The tide was incoming just like it had been the day before. But without the wind churning up the Harbor, the water at Ponce was clear and visibility was high. I could see dozens of sheepshead – some were absolute brutes – but that was the problem. You see them, they see you. Spooky fish tend to turn their noses up at just about everything, and that was the case this morning.

Even after scaling back my tackle, switching to a fluorocarbon leader and casting out further from the pier, the fish still wouldn’t touch a live fiddler crab, something they had been eager to eat the previous day. But there could have been other factors at play as well. With the full moon coming up Saturday, the fish could simply have stopped biting. Or, they might have been more interested in each other – do fish celebrate Valentine’s Day? – the spawn should be starting very soon.

As fishermen we will always create endless scenarios in our heads for why the fish wouldn’t bite. The only one who really knows is Mother Nature, and she ain’t sharing.

Regardless, I didn’t catch anything. Thankfully I had a big fillet left over from the previous day’s fishing to eat for lunch.

Until next time, hook ’em up and fight ’em hard. Fish on, fellow anglers.

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About manonthepier

Find my regular Man on the Pier column every Thursday in WaterLine Weekly Magazine, part of the Sun family of newspapers. Contributor for Florida Sportsman magazine and blogger for Fishin' Franks. Visit me at facebook.com/manonthepier or https://fishinfranks.wordpress.com/author/manonthepier/

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