Outdoors column: fishing tips for dealing with summer heat

by Steve Carney
Contributing columnist

The recent stretch of excessive heat has really made fishing a real challenge as we have been battling record setting heat during our middays.

By tailoring your times on the water during the hot days of summer you can still catch fish and beat the heat.
By tailoring your times on the water during the hot days of summer you can still catch fish and beat the heat.

We are faced with this usual hot stretch of weather from July through August every summer and I have learned to make some adjustments to counteract the heat and try and salvage most days on the water despite the hot conditions.

Here are some thoughts on the subject.

Limit trips to early morning

The biggest tip I can give is to limit your fishing trips to very early mornings.

This is a two-fold thing as the recreational traffic at this time of the year is crazy. Most every waterskier and jet skier are out from noon until late night and nowadays it doesn’t matter if it’s the weekday or weekend – it’s always crazy busy.

I get my clients out on the water no later than 5 to 5:30 a.m. and we normally can get a good five hours in on the water before the recreational people kick into high gear.

Secondly, the temperatures are somewhat bearable during early mornings as most mornings you are dealing with low 70s instead of trying to cope with afternoon temperatures in the high 90s – big difference.

Sun angle

The angle of the sun is a big deal during summer. By this I mean the sun always rises in the east casting shadows along the northeastern sides of most lakes which is a great tip for finding fish during early mornings at this time of the year.

I can get a good hour or two of fishing shaded areas of many lakes as long as I concentrate on the east sides especially where there is tree cover or high banks.

Game fish at this time of the year are always seeking overhead cover during the hot days of summer. You’ll find bass, northerns and even walleyes using these shaded areas during the first few hours of any given morning.

Competing with the explosion of natural food

Fishing slows down this time of the summer for a variety of reasons.

First off, the warm water temperatures tend to slow down the feeding process of most game fish but also a big factor is that most of the young-of-the-year bait fish are now hatched and flooding the shallows by the thousands.

July and August feature hatches of insects, minnow hatches and crayfish hatches that provide more food now than any other time of the season. It is tough to compete with these new food sources and game fish don’t have to try too hard to find a meal.

Some anglers can get really down on their skills at this time of the year and think they have lost their edge but in reality we are trying to catch fish and compete against the summer food smorgasbord and usually it is tough going.

Fall season things improve

When September rolls around the game fish have really put a dent in the bait fish and food population and things get tough again for them finding a meal.

The large schools of minnows have been pared down and the food isn’t as plentiful as it once was. That is why we get a resurgence of good fishing come fall. Game fish now have fewer food choices and they are now willing to chase our baits once again.

Steve Carney is a regular contributer to the Outdoors page.

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