Fish Hideouts During The Summer
By Todd Reed
Summer time is the season of many opportunities. There are countless activities going on around each and every community, however most outdoors people still make time to go fishing. Those hot summer days are sometimes our only chance to get out and fish, so we have to make the best of it. Where do fish go in the hottest months of the year? No matter the species you are after there are many places to put at the top of your list and a few things we as anglers can do to increase our odds.
The first thing we must do is to use the clock to our advantage. Anglers should focus their time on the first few hours of daylight and the last few hours of daylight. These times you will find all species a little more active and willing to bite. Also, it will be more comfortable for you to be in the outdoors as well.
Although it is summer, it is more important than ever to do your homework. Taking a look at lake maps is a very important step. The hot months of July and August will have the water temperature at its highest for the year. Fish as well as the species they are feeding on will want to be in the coolest water they can find. Sometimes a couple degrees can make all the difference. Locating the deeper banks and the creek channels will be key areas to focus on. In river situations finding the heaviest current will help you find the feeding fish. Shallow and stagnate backwaters are typically a waste of time during this month. Locating the cooler deeper water is vital to finding those hot water fish.
As with any time fishing, bait selection is key during the hot periods of the year too. The smaller baitfish have grown so if you are after predatory fish such as bass, walleye, catfish, or pike using larger baits will appear more realistic to the fish. The same goes for crappies too, I like to use larger minnows in the summer months for them. Matching what the fish are feeding on will produce more bites for your efforts.
No summer fishing article would be complete without talking about the thermocline. This is something anglers don’t have to worry about in rivers but need to be aware of in lakes around the state. The thermocline is a division of water so defined that you can see the difference in a depth finder. The issue occurs because the deeper water in a lake will stay cool and the water at the top of the water column will be much warmer. These two different layers of water do not mix. The water on the bottom layer lacks the pH levels and oxygen levels that fish desire. Fish are not caught below the thermocline during these hot weather times. Depth finders will show this as a constant line on your chart, typically less than 20 feet in deeper lakes. If you are fishing from shore there is no way to know for sure. Just be mindful of the thermocline and if you are fishing deep and not being successful, the thermocline may be the reason. To counter this phenomenon fish in the upper half of the water column are moving shallower yet staying close to the deeper/cooler water.
Just like humans fish will find a way to stay cool during the hottest times. Shaded banks offer fish relief and should be focused on. Throwing lures while using slip bobbers to cast under trees is a great way to beat the heat and catch some dinner. Water that has been shaded much of the day will be a couple degrees cooler and fish will seek that out. Another visible area to look for are laydown logs. These logs offer shade and a place for the fish to hide and ambush their next meal. The same goes for docks, I have found that many species will seek out the comfort of a dock, no matter how warm the temperature is.
The amount of shade a dock offers will attract many species and food for them to spend the entire day there. If the lake or river you are fishing has these available, make it a priority to fish them.
The last bit of advice for hot summer months are to key in on any weeds the lake or river offers. Weeds provide many things to fish; shade, insects, baitfish, and a good pH level in the water. These reasons make weeds a top choice anytime in the year, especially now. A precision casted bobber between two lily pads or weed patches will surely catch the eye of a hungry panfish. Increase the bait to a chub for pike or bass. Casting topwater frogs during this season is a fun way to catch them as well. A good quality frog will skim across the top of any patch of weeds to tempt a bass or pike into biting. When venturing into the weeds it is important to have the right equipment. Using braided line will increase your catches in and around the weeds.
• Hot weather warnings- make sure and take plenty of cool water with you as you venture out this time of year. Dress light and don’t forget to cover up or use sunscreen to protect yourself.
• Keeping fish to eat- If you plan on keeping your catch make every effort to get them on ice as soon as you catch them. A small cooler works well and no water is needed as long as you have plenty of ice. Keeping your catch cold will make them easier to clean, and taste much better.
Plan ahead with extra ice to ensure a tasty meal of fish.
As the end of summer approaches don’t get discouraged by the hot temperatures, make the adjustments, try some new areas and keep catch those fish.