By John Martino
— We’ve all heard it before, usually from people who have relocated to Arizona for one reason or another.
“The weather is beautiful. The temperature hits the triple digits, but it’s a dry heat,” they usually say.
“So is an oven,” is my standard sarcastic reply.
To me, anytime the mercury hits the mid-90s or above, it’s hot — and I don’t care where you live.
Without a doubt, this summer’s heat is bearing down on us, but that doesn’t mean the fishing can’t be equally as hot. I know what you’re thinking: “But the spawns are over, the fall cool down is still months away and every hour spent on the water feels like a session in a sauna.” That’s still no reason to give up.
There are several ways to cope with the heat. One is just deal with it and go fishing. Sure you may have to dunk your hat in the water periodically and drink lots of water. But fish can be caught.
Another tactic is to focus your outings either early or late when the temperatures aren’t as stifling. Mornings are usually safer because you won’t have to deal with those occasional evening pop-up thunderstorms.
The best tactic when trying your luck during extended periods of sweltering heat is to go deep. This became evident several weeks back while taking part in an evening bass tournament.
“It’s going to be smoking hot,” said my partner Craig Carter as we pulled into the boat ramp.
The thermometer in his truck read 102. Needless to say, attendance was lighter than normal as many of the regulars opted to forgo the contest to stay home in more comfortable confines.
It wasn’t long before we were throwing soft plastics under boat docks and other visible structure where we have caught fish before. Nothing. Then we tossed top-water lures around various types of standing vegetation. Zip. We then started working spinner baits along deeper weed edges. Again, our lures came back untouched. The water temperature display on the boat’s dash read 90 degrees.
“I think we’re fishing too shallow,” I told Carter. “If we do catch anything it’s going to come back par-boiled.”
Our shirts were soaked and perspiration ringed our hats as we moved the boat to the outer edges of deep water. On my third cast I felt a subtle “tap” and saw my line quickly move to the left. The rest of the evening was spent catching fish.
Fish are like humans — they like to remain comfortable. In times of prolonged heat, they move to deeper, cooler confines.
Pat Thompson and Jim Schrader also discovered this after a recent trip to Lake Waveland where they brought home a beautiful stringer of bluegills and crappies.
“It was unbearable,” Thompson said, when describing the weather.
The local anglers originally tried shallower areas where they have caught fish in the past, but only succeeded in hooking two small bluegills.
“As a last resort, we decided to move out deep and that’s where we caught all of our fish.” Thompson explained.
“I have never caught bluegills 14 feet deep before,” added Schrader.
A recent weather forecast showed no relief from this summer’s drought and smoldering temperatures. But don’t let that deter you from spending time on the water. Just remember to go deep.
The Kokomo Bass Anglers conducted their annual buddy tournament on Nyona Lake. After the weigh-in it was the team of Stanley Paul and Max Kelly taking first place with a limit of five largemouth bass totaling 8 pounds, 10 ounces. They also captured the tourney’s “big bass” award with a fish topping out at 3 pounds. Mark Richardson and Leslie Shelley finished second with five fish sporting a combined weight of 7 pounds, 7 ounces. Brett Kelly and Dave Pross rounded out the top three with two fish weighing 3 pounds.
Larrell Norris and Dave Robertson came out on top at last Tuesday’s Delphi-Delco team bass tourney, held on Mississinewa Reservoir, with two fish weighing 6 pounds, 5 ounces. They also had the event’s “biggest fish” with a 4-pound, 3-ounce bass. Second place went to Keith Milburn and Ed Lyke with two fish weighing 4 pounds, 8 ounces. Mike and Aaron Harrison grabbed third place with two fish tipping the scales at 3 pounds, 7 ounces.
Tribune Catches of the Week
Bryant’s Outdoor Store: Jason Nichols and Tad Rushing cleaned 28 bluegills after a recent outing on a Cass County pond. Taken on crickets, several of the gills pushed 9 inches in length.
U.S. 31 Bait and Tackle: Brad Carden hauled in a flathead catfish dropping the scales at 15 pounds. Carden hooked his catch from Mississinewa Reservoir on live bait.
• John Martino is the Tribune’s outdoors columnist. He may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.