It’s the time of year us people in the upper Midwest look forward to all winter long. It’s summer, nature’s payment to us for all the cold and snow we were thrown back in January and February. It’s the season when most of us will spend more time outside, making family vacations or weekends at the lake, partying with friends and for all too many anglers...spending miserably long days scorching in the sun.
I know many people who say in winter you can always add more clothes; in summer, there’s only so much clothes to take off. Not me! I say being too hot is uncomfortable, being too cold is painful. Still, I’ll be the first to admit in the heat of the summer, staying cool can be tough.
The most common sense answer to the question of how a fisherman can beat the heat in the summer is to pick the coolest parts of the day to get on the water. Spend the majority of your time fishing early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the temperature is more bearable. Not only is this going to cut down on the misery of withering in the hot sun, but it typically is going to be when the fish are most active.
It’s not for everyone, but give night fishing a shot. When water temps start getting up in the high 70's and 80's, bass and other fish switch to becoming night stalkers. They’ll hole up during the day and go on the prowl after dark. If you haven't tried it, it can be some of the best fishing you'll ever experience. Try a black buzzbait or a big, black jig and be ready for a ton of fun!
If you're like most anglers, these first two options are not good enough. After working all week, you want to squeeze in every minute of fishing time possible on the weekend. Before thinking about techniques for figuring out the fish, you need to think about taking care of your body and mind when the temperature starts to sizzle.
This starts with what you wear. A decade or so ago, about the best a summer angler could do was pick a pair of lightweight shorts and a light colored Tee-shirt. With a little luck there would be just enough breeze to evaporate the sweat clinging to the cotton material in the Tee.
In the last few years a ton of great options for sun protective clothing have come on the market. Many outdoor clothing makers now offer a full-line of UV shirts and pants that block the harmful rays of the sun and work to actually "wick" moisture away from your body, keeping you cooler, even on the hottest, most humid days.
For full protection include sun gloves, hats and a good "buff" you can keep around your neck and up over your face. Covering up is essential to making sure you don't get overheated and that you stay protected. Don't forget a quality, high SPF sunscreen and continue to reapply throughout the day.
If you're planning to do some hardcore fishing this summer, then leave the beer or sugary soft drinks on the dock. Both of those can lead to dehydration. Instead, load up your cooler with some better choices. Then remember to drink them. That’s usually my problem.
Sure, I bring along the water or sports drinks, but I get so involved with the fishing I lose focus on pulling a bottle out of the cooler regularly to keep hydrated. I now make a conscious effort to stop and drink at least once an hour. It’s easy to forget how much a person sweats and burns energy while fishing.
To help me stay hydrated, I keep a jug of cool water to drink from regularly. The water in the jug isn’t ice cold so I can slug down more than just a sip at a time. I keep the Gatorade in the ice chest and turn to it when I want to sip something ice cold. Between the water and the sports drink I stay hydrated and keep my electrolytes replenished when I remember to use them.