Anglers have always had the idea that when the weather gets hot, the fishing goes bad. But that is not true — and you don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to find good fishing.
Some of my best fishing days have been in hot weather, during the warmest time of the day. I’ve caught some of my largest fish in several species from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the summer months. The most productive TV show that I have ever filmed, which was done for Iowa Public TV, was in a 106° heat index, while fishing riprap along Railroad Lake dam in the sun and in submerged timber in the middle of the lake, which resulted in 30 bass, none being less than 2 pounds. I’ve also caught several nice size crappie and bluegill in open areas without above-water shade, and some in overhanging areas.
There are four main keys to locating fish in these conditions: water temperature, cover, oxygen and food source. Like the late John Eastwold of the Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said, “The fish are where the kitchen is located, and if the food supply isn’t there, then neither are the fish.” In most cases, the food supply will be where the best of the other conditions are found. If not, then don't waste time.
The best water temperature is the lowest that can be found. In some cases that means finding shade, timber, weeds, brush or stumps. Even if the actual water temperature is a bit higher, current, whether water or wind, can help make conditions more comfortable by providing some temperature difference and producing a better oxygen level.
Don’t ignore any riprap cover, even if it is in warmer water. As previously mentioned, if there is some form of current running parallel or into it, then definitely spend some time in that area. Look for anything different along the area, such as a drop-off, depression or some sort of different cover, such as a log, or even an overflow area along a dam.
When fishing current, milder speeds are best, but also look for breaks and eddies behind them. Brush piles, logjams and rock piles are all good current breaks on rivers and canals. In the case of the Hennepin Canal, there are tubes through which you pass to from one pool to the next. These tubes, especially the down current side, often hold fish. Similar structures can be found in other bodies of water. They may not be as large, but they still are tubes that will hold fish, especially if water or wind current is passing through.
During any time of the year, baitfish busts are a dead give away that fish are feeding in an area. This is not always seen, so if baitfish are seen swimming in areas, or crawfish pieces are found drifting along shore, these are areas to target. Baitfish can also be found on a depth finder, which can be used to find other structures such as drop-offs, submerged brush, and old creek beds. Another reason that locating food is so important is that fish feed more in the hot weather since their metabolism is controlled by temperature. So they feed more as it gets hotter.
Four of my favorite covers for this time of year are brush piles, docks, overhanging trees and weeds. I especially like docks and overhangs that are near deep water and have weeds or wood cover off of the dock’s deep end, or a drop-off parallel to the overhanging trees. Overhanging trees not only provide shade but also naturally chum the water with fruit and bugs. Weeds that come to the surface, and have gaps between “weed islands” or weeds that have a drop-off edge along deeper water are great fish holders. There have been several times when I’ve fished in the heat of the day around a gap near a “weed island” and caught larger crappie and bluegill.
Except for when I’m trying to locate bass quickly with a Rat-L-Trap or spinnerbait, my fishing techniques for location are slower. I’ll use B-Fish-N jig heads with a Natural Forage Baits T-Shad or Drop Shad with a finger jigging technique; swim Blitz Spyder and Spyder Finesse jigs with a Mad Craw or Auger Frog; and swim a Casey’s Runner Head with a NFB FT-Shad and Blitz Swim Bait head with a NFB Swim Bait.
You have free articles remaining.
The next step is to fish slower with a Road Runner, T-Shad, or a Ratfinkee, Ratso or Mini Mite under a float with a Crappie Nibble for panfish. Flip/pitch/slow crawl/pump plastic worms (NFB RT7 and R4, and B-Fish-N Ringworm) and Blitz Spyder Jig with Mad Craw for bass. I will retrieve the lures or drift the float rigs along rip rap, weed lines, points and off of drop-offs. In brush, logs, trees and stumps I pull the lures up and down in every little nock-and-cranny, making sure to cover every possible spot, especially when flipping/pitching for bass. This includes working the root system that goes out from a submerged stump.
The tactics discussed in this article are primarily targeting shallower lakes, rivers and canals. Fishing these same conditions in a deep reservoir will be somewhat different since fish have more depths, steeper banks and bluffs, and different structures to move to. In either case, and especially with the deeper areas, a good depth finder with a temperature probe will be invaluable, although I use Vexilar flasher units, which are great for locating drop-offs, points and weed areas.
People who go early and late will catch active fish, and find them moving around and out a bit more. However, don’t pass up the “heat” fishing, as it can be just as productive, and a lot of fun for the angler that likes to fish slow, in all sorts of cover.
Remember, when fishing in very hot conditions, take breaks, drink plenty of water, and look for the conditions discussed in this article.
WLP lake restoration
By now most of the public knows that West Lake Park is having a major lake restoration project taking place, and the waiting for the draining of the lakes is now over.
Starting on July 14, Lambauch and Railroad Lake began draining a foot per day into Lake of the Hills. This will not happen overnight, but you can already see where it is dropping, especially on the riprap dam areas of Railroad.
Another thing, which is out of public view, is that “Pond 5” is now 99% complete, and starting to fill. The creek that is behind the dam is starting to fill up quickly, but again, it will not be an overnight thing, and because of construction the public is unable to get to this area.