Most anglers hang up their rod and reel when the weather gets hot, as the action under the water slows down as temperatures rise. Fish become heat-stressed and don't hit your lure quite as often as the water heats up. Just like humans, fish can get testy and cranky when they're overheated.
You don't necessarily have to give fishing up for the season after a slew of hot days. With a few warm-weather tactics, you can get as many hits as you would on days when the mercury is below 80 degrees.
1. Look for Current
When humans become overheated, we turn on the air conditioning, or at least a fan. When fish get hot, they often look for the fish-equivalent of a fan, which is a fast-moving current.
Fish like the super-oxygenated water running swiftly through their gills, and they also don't have to expend as much energy catching the smaller baitfish that swim in the current.
Look for signs of fast-moving water. If you're fishing on a natural lake, try casting on the windy side. Wind can kick up currents where there normally are none, and a savvy hot-weather angler can take advantage of this natural water pattern.
Alternately, find the mouth of a fast-moving river or creek. Unearth some rocks to find hellgrammites, which are the larval stages of the dobsonfly. These insects happen to be a favorite meal of small-mouthed bass and trout.
Attach a hellgrammite to a 4- or 6-hook and add a few split shots for weight. Cast at the mouth of the river or creek, into the current, and hope that some fish are feeling energetic enough to bite in the hot weather.
2. Find the Shade
Just like humans, fish search out shade as a respite from the beating sun. It doesn't matter if the shadows are from a pier or an overhanging tree; fish use shade to protect themselves from the sun and predators in the area.
Use spinnerbaits along the underside of a dock, or buzz baits in the shade of a bridge piling. If you're bass fishing when it’s above 80 degrees, you aren’t likely to get a strike unless you’re fishing the shade.
3. Use Worms on Your Hooks
You can fish with a wide variety of things on your hook; plastic lures, hellgrammites, and even leeches work well. For the best chances of succeeding in your fishing hobby in sweltering weather, use a worm at the end of your hook.
Thread a nightcrawler or garden worm onto a size 8- or 10-hook, letting most of the worm dangle. The fish may be feeling torpid, but most cannot resist the allure of a dangling earthworm.
4. Fish Fast
Hot fish generally don't feel up to feeding for most of the day. One tactic to help you find some strikes in the heat is to fish faster. If a fish isn't going to strike because of hunger, the only type of bite you can expect is a reaction strike.
Cast quickly, only allowing the fish a glimpse of your bait. The next time bait passes the fish, it may take a bite more out of instinct than anything else.
If you're fishing in the shallows, try burning a buzz bait or spinnerbait or twitching a plastic jerk bait as quickly as possible. For deeper fishing, use a football jig and bounce it along the bottom to entice overheated fish to bite.
5. Go Deep
In the middle of an August heatwave, the coolest place in your house may be the basement. There's a reason people used root cellars to store foodstuff before refrigeration; it's a lot cooler down there.
Similarly, fish look for cooler waters in the deep when the top waters start to warm up. Use deep-diving crankbaits to scour ledges or troughs in the water.
Water temps can change by as much as 10 degrees for every 10 feet of depth. When the fish find a cool spot, they tend to stick close by it to get some relief.
6. Fish at Night
To fish well at night, you need to pick a lake you know well from past fishing experiences. The most productive nights to fish are those that come directly after bright, sunny, hot days. If there's a full moon, all the better. Fish tend to be more active when the moon is full, and it will increase your visibility.
When choosing a lure for your night fishing expedition, know that black is the optimal color. Fish will only see the silhouette of your bait in the darkness and, since the sky is lighter than the water, a black lure will be the most visible.
7. Fish the Shoreline
A shallow stretch of shore is an ideal place to find some lethargic fish looking for ways to escape the heat. Look for panfish along the shore and, if you spot some, thread a nightcrawler (or its equivalent) onto a size 8- or 10-hook.
With a bobber and some split shot, float your lure 1-2 feet below the surface. Cast toward clumps of weed beds or fallen trees where fish might be hiding out, avoiding the worst heat.
8. Take Care of Yourself
When you're fishing in hot weather, you need to make sure you stay hydrated and healthy, especially if you're on a long expedition. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, as these can dehydrate you. Stick to water or a drink with added electrolytes to stay in good shape.
When fishing in the heat of the day, protect your head and neck from the sun with sunblock, a hat, and a gaiter. And don't forget about your eyes. Reflections from the sun on the water can damage your eyes or give you headaches, making it difficult to see your prey.
Fishing doesn't have to come to a standstill when the temperature climbs over 80 degrees. With simple tactics like fishing at night and going deep, you can entice some sluggish fish to bite.