The dog days of summer are upon us, when August’s sweltering heat and shirt-drenching humidity sends even the most-ardent anglers scurrying for shade and makes us all oh-so-thankful for Mr. Carrier’s life-saving invention, the air conditioner. Without it, summer in the deep south would be near intolerable.
So you know it’s gonna be a hot month. But is it fishable?
“Yes,” according to the consensus of experienced fishing guides and long-time anglers questioned. But there are vitally important measures to be taken to increase your chances for a successful trip, and to preserve you and your fellow passengers from heat exhaustion and even possible sun stroke. So, gather some tidbits to beat the summer heat, catch some fish and have fun on the water despite the temperatures.
Leave the dock as early as safely possible. Make sure your fore and aft lights are working. The better trout bite is generally early morning and late afternoon, so plan accordingly.
Slop on the sunscreen and repeat the process throughout the day. Wear the best sun-protective gear you can afford.
Live bait is essential for summer success. You don’t just have to buy it, but you also have what you need to keep it alive. The water in your livewell is very warm, and the water your pump cycles in and out is also very warm. Extra aeration helps, even a simple, battery operated bubble-pump. Consider freezing a small bottle of water or adding a small Zip Lock sandwich size bag of ice — zipped closed so not to leak — into the bait well to cool down the temperature. Also, consider taking extra bait, but don’t overcrowd your bait well. The thinking is, some of it will die (unavoidable), and the bait-stealing critters are out in full force Catfish, small croakers, ladyfish, needlefish, etc).
Fish the bigger outside bays, at any structure such as wells, rigs, islands and oyster reefs. Don’t neglect deeper passes between bodies of water or mouths of lakes and bayous where tides are moving and carrying baitfish.
Fish deeper than you do in spring and early summer. You can catch fish 2½ to 3 feet under a popping cork, but you’ll catch the bigger fish 4 feet under a cork, or even deeper. You can fish sliding corks over reefs and structure with debris-laden bottoms; sliding sinker rigs on softer bottoms, or just a live shrimp with a split-shot pinched on about 6 inches above your cork, without a cork.
If you don’t have to urinate, you’re not drinking enough. Dehydration can happen quickly and heat exhaustion and heatstroke is a real danger. Know the signs: heavy sweating; pale and clammy skin; fast, weak pulse; muscle cramps; weakness; dizziness; nausea and headache. Take immediate measures to cool down, and get out of the sun.
Live to fish another day!