Hot Weather Angling … go very early, or go deep

By: Tom Behrens

Space City Weather recently posted a heat advisory of heat index values between 100 and 106 degrees across much of southeast Texas with higher values anticipated at the end the end of the week. Well, you do know this is Texas where the summers are hot.

The fish adjust for the hot temperatures. Recent Texas freshwater fishing reports have water temps at Lake Conroe holding at 81 degrees with catfish spawning n 20-30 feet of waters; crappie found in 14-23 feet of water; and black bass around submerged structure, 13-25 feet deep. Fayette County Reservoir water temps were holding at 83 degrees with bass at 10-20 feet and catfish in water up to 20 feet. Lake Livingston water was holding at 85 degrees.

Fishing at night is one way to beat the heat, but not one of my favorite times to fish. But I will say that on trips I have fished under the moon and stars, come early morning hours – before the sun begins transforming the sky from black to shades of beautiful reds and oranges – I have caught some of my bigger bass. By full sunrise, the action was over.

Saltwater fish are similar in their summer haunts, although tidal movement is another determining factor. Patrol the shoreline of different bays before sunrise and chances are you will hook into a few good fish.

Reef fish, such as the Red Snapper, are found anywhere in water from 30 to 200 feet deep huddled by nearby productive structure; deep water oil rigs are one of their favorite haunts.

Pogies, squid, and cigar minnows rigged on 11/0 circle hooks, tied to a fluorocarbon leader and a barrel swivel on the other end of the leader, are productive choices. Seasoned offshore anglers prefer braid line on their reels because of the no stretch in the line.

If you don’t like messing with live bait, work a plastic jerkbait such as the ZMan in either 5-, 6- and 8-inch lengths.

After you catch your limit in the Gulf, or maybe you are fishing just for the sport of catching, the  air bladder of a fish becomes extended. Think in terms of a human rising to the surface from 30 feet or more, the swimmer or diver has to come us slowly to decompress the air in his lungs, and not create gas bubbles in his blood.

To combat gasses trapped in the swim bladder and reduce mortality in fish returned to the water, all commercial and recreational anglers are required to possess a venting tool or a rigged descending device on their boat Venting tools are described as hypodermic needles used to pierce a fish’s swim bladder and allow gases to escape, thereby alleviating pressure and allowing the fish to swim downward.

Do freshwater fish coming from depths of 20 feet in a freshwater lake need to vented?

The fishery experts say that bass, for example, caught in water 20 feet or deeper, their swim bladder will likely need to be vented before releasing the fish back into the water.

What about the fisher person venturing into the summer heat looking for fish? Calm down, we don’t need to be vented.

Wear light colored, lightweight and loose-fitting clothes. Use a good sun block cream on exposed skin, and wear sunglasses. Broad-brim, bucket or legionnaire hats offer the best protections from UV radiation. Baseball or peaked caps, and sun visors are not recommended as these styles do not protect the ears, cheeks, or neck. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and if you are one of those diehard anglers that stays on the water all day, take frequent breaks from the heat.

Good luck on your summer angling. Don’t forget to take pictures so you can brag about it later.