June 5, 2014 Share

Strategies to Beat the Heat

Originally Publsihed on Jul 3, 2012 “From the Docks” NBC Sports

As anglers, we hope for periods of stable weather because fish, in general, bite best during these times. Significant weather fronts have an adverse affect on fish activity, particularly fish living below the Mason-Dixon Line. I don’t like cold fronts, but I don’t fear them as much in northern waters, even those that send temps plummeting 15-30 degrees in a matter of hours. One of the worst cold fronts I’ve experienced came through northern Minnesota in early September of 2010. Surface temps on massive Rainy Lake dropped more than 15 degrees overnight! But the bite for smallmouth stayed decent, and we landed some bonus walleyes are well fishing grubs on leadheads over shallow rocks.

So much has been written about cold fronts that most anglers know how to combat their negative affects on fishing success (slow down, drop bait size and fish most stable parts of the day). What I find odd is that few anglers (or the angling press) discuss the effects of excessive heat, maybe because excessive forces most anglers off the water and demand for information is low. Strategies to beat the heat are almost completely left off the table.

In many ways, the impact of heat on fish is much that same as the effects of cold. In both cases, fish (especially big fish) are pushed beyond their comfort ranges. Fish respond by reducing activity and seeking cooler water, either near the thermocline, near springs or areas of shade. I like the last place best because these areas are the easiest to fish.

A few years back I was fishing during a heat wave that was so intense we had to store soft baits in the cooler. If we left them on the deck carpeting (a dark grey) for any length of time the baits would turn to mush. Yet, we found big bass throughout the day by flippin wood cover. The fish wouldn’t chase, but they did eat jigs/craws dropped in their face.

It hit 99 degrees here yesterday with a heat index over 110 degrees because humidity was so high. And this is low compared to other areas of the country. If you are on the water, make sure you take care of yourself first with plenty of water and good sunscreen, and target those times of the day when Mother Nature provides you and the fish some stability and relief!