Wade In

It’s hot.

I will always tell you that you cannot catch anything sitting at home on the couch.  However, when it gets this hot, I have to admit my motivation to go fishing wanes a bit.  I might still “wet a line”, but I will be selective about the times and places to do it.  On the other hand, getting into the water sound like a great idea right now.

Let’s go there. . . into the water.  I can think of some great fishing trips I have had during heat waves by wading right in!  When I was a kid, all summer long we lived in tenner shoes and cut-offs.  We waded right into the river, lakes or ponds without a second thought, sometimes just to cool off.

I can recall some trips to trout waters when it was brutally hot, but the fishing was just as hot.  And “accidentally” falling into those cold trout waters on a hot afternoon was as good as it gets!

Be Careful

Of course, got to post the disclaimers first, anytime you are wading, be careful.  Make sure the water is shallow enough for wading.  Make sure you can walk safely without falling, tripping or stepping on something.  I almost always have a landing net with me while wading.  Yes, it is a great aid for landing, handling and releasing fish, but it also serves as a wading staff.  If you are unsure, a stick will work in a pinch.

If deep water is a threat, wearing a life jacket is a good idea.  Likewise, slipping a life jacket on and jumping off the back of the boat is a great way to cool down during a hot afternoon of fishing.

Wear polarized sunglasses.  They will help you see into the water where you are wading, and can protect you from flying hooks and weights.

Take something to drink.  You can cool off in the water, but you better not drink it.

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Keep it Simple

I already mentioned the old tenner shoes and some cutoffs.  To do some wading, I am guessing all of us can find that wardrobe in our closet.  If you want to take it “next level”, a good pair of wading boots, some neoprene socks/gravel gaiters, and quick-dry pants can make it even more comfortable.  Besides that, if you wear that gear with the designer tags on them, at least you will look like you can fish!

Obviously, you cannot carry a bunch of gear while wading.  One rod will be the limit.  Choose a rod & reel appropriate for the fishing situation, but also one that is versatile, one that can be used for a variety of presentations.  That may be a bait-casting rod & reel for pond bass, a spinning rod & reel for the evening white bass feeding frenzy, or a fly-rod for trout in a cold-water stream.

A couple of boxes or bags to carry some tackle can be slipped in pockets.  Better yet, wear a fishing vest.  Do not forget the pliers, nippers, hook sharpeners, leader material, and other gear needed for tackle and fish-handling.  Better have a tape measure in one pocket, too.

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Time and Place

No doubt catching fish during the heat of summer is not as easy as it was in the spring.  The reason for that is not the fish are uncomfortable or “sluggish”.  As a matter of fact, fish are the same temperature as their environment.  During the heat of summer their metabolism will be high, and that means they have to feed.  They feed as much and maybe even more during the heat as at any other time of year.  So, why are they harder to catch?

The bite gets tougher during the summer simply because the abundance of natural prey is at its peak.  In some cases, there almost literally will be so much natural prey that all a fish has to do to feed is open its mouth.

Knowing that, there are some strategies that will still catch fish.  First, feeding activity can be intense, but it will likely be brief.  Identify the areas most likely to attract actively-feeding fish and be there at prime times, likely early and late in the day.  Be ready to fish hard, efficiently, at those times.  Take a break and cool off in the water during the middle of the day.

Fish tend to feed most selectively when prey is abundant.  Try to match the size, shape, general color, and behavior of the primary prey with your presentations.  You will know when you get it right!

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Brand-new foam ‘hopper, and the same pattern after a few dozen trout chewed it!

Fish Handling

Hot weather and warm water temps. mean you have to be at the top of your game when handling and releasing fish.  Keep ’em in the water as much as possible.  Have tools and cameras handy and ready so no time is wasted removing hooks and snapping photos.  Get ’em back in the water ASAP!

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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