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Mid-Summer Fishing Tips

Published on Tuesday, July 12, 2016's hot! It is the middle of summer, and it feels like it. Heat and humidity are two things I have never built up a resistance to. Summer is my least favorite season. And a summer like this one, hot and dry, is a real killer. It’s so hot, yesterday I saw a dog chasin' a cat, and they were both walkin'. It is so hot even the ice cubes are sweatin'. The good thing about this time of year is that our farming friends can occasionally take a day off to catch some fish.

So much for my hot weather complaints. Summer has its good points, too. Mid-summer fishing can often be as hot as the weather. Summer patterns and habits for most game fish fluctuate drastically from day to day. There are several contributing factors that can make or break a day of summer fishing. Today we're going to look at some questions and give some advice on how to keep fresh fillets on your grill or in your skillet this summer.

Summertime, more than any other season, is a time of dramatically quick weather changes. Severe thunderstorms can build so fast you can hardly get under shelter before they hit. Others take several hours to develop and could then last only a few minutes. Knowing how to fish these approaching low-pressure cells can really pay-off.

Fishing while the barometric pressure is on the way down can be outstanding. My first advice is, do not stick it out too long. Do not fish through an electrical storm. However, the minutes just ahead of a coming storm can be electrical as well, for the angler.

I remember a sultry July afternoon from my youth. I was wading and fishing Courtois Creek in S.E. Missouri. I had caught a few nice goggle-eyes (Rock Bass) and a couple of respectable smallmouth earlier that morning. By 10:00AM the sun and the temperature were both high. Fishing had slowed down markedly.

I heard distant thunder before I ever noticed the billowing black cloud coming over the ridge to the west. I had just replenished my bait can with crawdads from the last riffle and had eased in close to a big Sycamore root wad. I felt the breeze cool as I made my first cast.

I stood at that root wad, in about 5-feet of water, and caught 22 goggle-eyes on 22 casts. They were feeding so heavily in that crystal clear water that I saw fish chasing the crawdad that the fish I had hooked had knocked off the hook and up the line. Before the rain came, I also caught a couple of green-eared sunfish and fine 18-inch smallmouth. The second the first drop of rain hit the water, the fish stopped biting.

On another mid-summer occasion, I had my good friend and "want-to-be" bass fisherman, Kevin Brunstein, on a favorite spot when a cloud came up. We had been doing pretty fare before the cloud on crankbaits and spinnerbaits. As the cloud and the thunder came closer, we switched to top water lures. Or Kevin switched I should say. He was catching bass so fast I had no time to cast. I was busy keeping the boat in position for him. Again, when the rain came, the fish quit.

Fishing just ahead of weather fronts can pay off big in the summertime. (Photo by Jeff Faulkenberry)


Since we have just discussed bad weather, we may as well talk about what happens after the storm too. It is not unusual for a big summer storm to drop an inch of rain in under an hour. This is going to cause creeks to fill and impoundments to rise.

Keep a couple of things in mind during the post-storm hours: First, there will be a lot of new food washed into the water for the fish to eat. There may be a period of heavy feeding as these new food prospects enter your fishin' hole. Also, the temperature of this new water will likely be cooler than the water that was already there.

This all adds up to one thing: fish the spot, right after a storm, where creeks feed your impoundment. The water that is coming from the creek may very well be stained or even muddy. That is O.K. Just concentrate your efforts where the new muddy water meets the clearer water that was already there.

Fish like cover. It is that simple. Not only does cover provide protection from the beating summer sun, but it also gives the fish a sense of security. Cover is also an excellent place from which to ambush prey.

I remember when the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, Missouri was under construction. They were not yet open, but the aquarium was finished and they were in the process of stocking it. At that time, it was just a huge tank of water. No decoration, no cover.

There were about 100 fish in the tank of various species. They were pretty evenly dispersed throughout the water at any given time. One of the employees, an avid bass angler, decided to try an experiment. He floated a 10-foot 2x6 board in the water. To the fish it must have resembled a floating log. Less than 2- hours after the board was placed in the water, all the fish were stacked neatly underneath it.

That simple illustration shows how important it is to fish cover. Stay on stumps, logs, weeds and blow downs for a long time. Find cedar trees or root wads. To catch fish, you have got to go where the fish are. Also, stick to the shady banks or coves. Fish are much more likely to attack a bait if they do not have to swim through sun-heated water.

As long as we have just mentioned water temp, let's take it a step further. In mid-summer the fish are going to seek cooler water. Sometimes that means deeper, other times it just means shaded water. The fish must feed, and this cooler water is also favored by the bait-fish that are food for our game fish. To sum it up, fish early and late in the day. If you do fish during mid-day, be sure to look for pockets of water that may have reduced temperature. Even the shade provided by a log or limb can be enough to hold the fish that will make your day.

Another good tip to avoid hot water pickiness is one of my favorite warm weather techniques. Night fishing in the summer time can be very productive. Big fish like to feed at night when their prey is also more active. With increased bait movement and decreased water temps, night fishing can be a blast.

When the temperature rises in mid-summer, try chasing big bass at night as both
air and water conditions are more favorable. (Photo by Parker Dietrich)

Do not let hot weather keep you off the water. Learning what fish like and how they are most likely to respond to certain conditions will help you become more successful. The most important part of summertime fishing is finding out what the fish are doing while you are getting your sunburn.

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Mike Roux

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