Hot Days mean Cool Fishing at Night


With summer in full swing and the hottest part of the fishing season staring us right in the face, many average angling enthusiasts put their rods and reels to the side until the cooler weather prevails again. Comments like, “The fish don’t bite during the hot weather” or “The fish lose all of their teeth until fall” or, the best one yet, “They just ain’t around right now!” have circulated for years.

When you think about it, fish are a “captive audience.” In other words, they can move but they can’t hide. I guess they can hide, but if you know where to look for them you can still be successful during these hot months. The key is learning to adapt. Fish do bite during the hot weather; all living, breathing creatures must eat to stay alive. The fishes’ habits may change, but they must eat to live.

When is another matter.

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Fish have a comfort zone where they feel most comfortable. When that comfort zone is breached they seek the most preferable surroundings available to them. When the hot sun warms your favorite fishing waters, fish will seek out the most comfortable times and locations that they can find. However, most of the time they’ll be in a negative feeding mood. That mood will slowly change into a feeding one as the sunset occurs and the powerful rays of the day penetrating the lakes lessen.

With panfish, the hours of early dawn and then until about 9 a.m., and then again from just before sundown until dark, will be your best bet. You can catch smaller panfish almost at will and at anytime, but for the big bruisers, you might have to seek these fish out on their preferred structure in 15 to 20 feet or more in July and beyond. Gamefish, like walleyes, muskies, bass, etc., on the other hand will change their feeding habits almost totally to a “night bite,” that is until cooler waters again prevail. The largest percentage of quality fish can be caught late into the nighttime hours. If you choose between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. to fish the same locations and/or structure that you do during daylight, you can generally land the quality fish that you got earlier in the year under less harsh conditions.

I realize that night fishing is not easy for many. The easy-to see-landmarks during the day all but disappear during the night. “Feeling” your way around in the dark on a body of water can sometimes be challenging, if not downright scary. Things that go bump during the day while you are boating and can see are bad enough, but things that go “bump in the night” can be even more frightening. There are two ways to handle this situation. First, you can proceed to your favorite piece of fish-holding structure before the sun goes down and fish there until dawn, which of course is going to totally limit you in your ability to seek out better locations should your original choice not be productive. Or, second, if you haven’t already done so, is to invest in quality GPS. Most serious fishermen wouldn’t be caught dead without one. Armed with GPS, you can go from location to location programming in waypoints in your electronics what will be the best structure and spots for fish you’re pursuing during the daylight hours. Then, when darkness falls and you’re ready for the nighttime “hunt,” all you need to do is go from waypoint to waypoint and later back to the dock in total darkness after a successful night, all within “the dog days of summer.”