How Underwater Conditions Affect Fish Migration


Florida waters have seasons just like we do above. Underwater, the conditions undergo changes that affect not only water temperatures but also the different species of fish that come and go yearly. This is referred to as migration.

Temperature changes will also influence the breeding habits of fish. As months and weather change, so does the influx of species that deposit eggs and are fertilized in mass groupings. The mass breeding is called spawning.

Feeding habits will change as well. As cool fronts pass through the southeastern part of our country, especially in the fall and as winter approaches, the cobia, tarpon and wahoo bite is especially strong. Once winter months set in and those air temperatures drop, the mackerel and sailfish bite really heats up. I prefer to fish in sweltering hot temperatures, which limits my time on the water to spring and summer months when the dolphin (mahimahi) and snapper bite is really strong.

I always stick by this motto: the rougher the seas, the better the fishing; and winter months can really turn our waters into a washing machine. Ripping currents and chilly air mixed with stronger winds, rain and overcast skies can produce an exhilarating day on the water.

One caveat to the seasons is the time of day. During winter months, the heat of the day tends to help fish become more active. During warmer months, those same species of fish are saving energy by feeding just as the sun rises or sets.

I’ve been observing and fishing our local waters for almost 30 years and empirical evidence leaves me to believe that when the sun is breaking the horizon, rising or setting, fish are eating.

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