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Beating the Heat

By Meagan Russell
In Bayou Outdoors
Jun 30th, 2021

article by Dan Chason

Fishing man in boat

One of the most challenging things about fishing in the south is the fluid draining, overbearing and dangerous heat of the summer. Some anglers opt to start night fishing and others limit outdoor activity to mornings and evenings to beat the heat. There are some things to note and hopefully these tips can help you be more successful this summer when you go afield.

Your body loses cooling and heat in two main parts:  Your head and your feet. When you are standing on a boat deck and that radiating heat is coming up through your feet, you deplete electrolytes and can become suspect to heat exhaustion and even worse, heat stroke. Your body is being subjected to high temperatures through your head and also from below. The first most important step is to hydrate. Hydrate with water, not carbonated drinks before, during and after subjecting yourself to the elements.

After hydration, covering your head with a cover that allows air to circulate is paramount. A breathable, light hat or cap is a must. Another product that aids in cooling is called a Cool Wrap.  This device becomes cool when saturated with water and keeps not only your head cooler, but can be used on your neck and face.  This is a life saver for me and I don’t go fishing without it.

Another issue is your clothing. Long sleeves and light pants or shorts that allow air circulation are a must.  If your clothes are sticking to you, it may be time to shop for breathable clothing made for the heat.

The other consideration is your footwear. Going barefoot is a mistake as you have no insulator against the heat beating down on the boat.  This is not the weather for the popular Crocks.  Plastic or rubber retains heat. Use footwear that sheds heat and allows it to dissipate which will keep your feet cooler.

You are surrounded by water. Water is your friend when it comes to addressing heat. Don’t be afraid to dip that cap or hat in the water and cool down your head. In the heat of the day, this is probably the second most effective way to cool down. Regular hydrating is the most important. I keep an old beach towel in my boat for one thing:  soaking it in water and standing on it. That wet towel not only keeps my deck cool, it keeps my feet from overheating.

Signs of heat exhaustion begin with a feeling of weakness or dizziness. Don’t ignore these signs. Hydrate and retreat to the shade and cool off before continuing. This is important even if you are tournament fishing as nothing is more critical in the hot summer.

Now to the best part. The heat of summer not only affects you, it affects the fish. This time of year, it is very important to monitor the water temperature. Fish do not have eyelids so there are two areas that they will populate to avoid the heat and direct sunlight. They will suspend in the thermocline or they will bury up in and around structure for the shade. Watching the barometer is key as on a rising barometer (after a rain) they will bury up tighter to the cover. Looking for bait fish is another key in locating game fish such as bass or crappie. Fish will follow the bait and feed. Find the bait and you will find the fish.

I’ve said it many times before and I will say it again.  There is not a better lure for bass in the hot summer than a Wobblehead. This lure shines in the heat and the hotter it is the better it works. My favorite set up is a Zoom Bruised Banana trick worm threaded on a red Wobblehead. This color mimics the common water snake that is prevalent in local waters and bass love to eat them. My second favorite color is the Creme brand natural colored worm. Of course the old black with a red tail or red with a red tail always works.

For crappie, the summertime is when I rely heavily on brush tops. The greener the brush the better as the green vegetation draws the bait fish. The best colors in area lakes for me is a natural shad color such as Bobby Garland’s blue thunder.  I also like the joker style Bobby Garland or Strike King jigs in pink or white with a chartreuse tail.  To increase action, I add a road runner style jig head to give me more flash.

The other way to enjoy a hot summer fishing trip is to find a good clump of shallow Cypress trees and find some active bream or chinquapin.  Area lakes that are the best are Cheniere, Black Bayou Lake, D’Arbonne and the Ouachita River in Felsenthal.  These lakes offer acres of shade with an abundance of Cypress trees to escape the heat.  If you don’t believe me, get on the lake about noon and check the water temperature in open water.  Move from there to a Cypress grove and check your water temperature again.  You will not only see a remarkable difference in water temperature but you will feel the difference in ambient temperature which will keep you cooler.

The summertime is not the time to put the boat under the shed.  You can find fish but it is so important to fish smart. No fish of any size is worth overheating and stressing your body to the point of heat exhaustion or stroke. Remember to cover up with light, breathable clothes, hydrate well and often and you too can enjoy summertime fishing. Your health is the most important thing to consider. Fish smart, fish hard, but most of all, be prepared for some very challenging temperatures and understand that they can be life threatening. Catch a bunch and but remember to save some for tomorrow.