Fishing In Summers Heat! by gary engberg

by Free Speech on July 15, 2011

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Hot Summer Bluegill

By the end of July and throughout August, fishing in southern Wisconsin can become difficult and very inconsistent. One of the main reasons for the fishing slow down is that fish have gone into their summer patterns and for most fish this means that they have moved to deeper water and areas of mid-lake structure. Many anglers have not changed their fishing locations and tactics from earlier in the year when they regularly caught fish in shallow water. Early in the season most fish are shallow, still in their post-spawn mode, and you can usually find most species of fish in the same general location. To many anglers, they caught fish in their “spot” before, so why not now during the heat of summer? Let me give you a few ideas for fishing this time of year.
It’s very easy to get into fishing “memories,” where you keep fishing the same locations where you caught fish before and earlier in the year. Anglers also have the tendency to fish the same way or use the same technique as they did when they caught fish. The important thing that all anglers should learn is the year-round patterns of the fish that they are pursuing. All fish have locations that they prefer and gravitate towards in the summer months. These areas are in a fish’s comfort zone where they prefer to spend their time during the summer heat. Fish have patterns that they follow depending upon the season, the weather, the moon phase, the available baitfish or forage, oxygen level, and the water temperature to name a few factors that will affect a fish’s movement throughout the course of the year and especially in the summer.
What often happens is that a fisherman catches fish in the spring and early summer in shallow water. This is the easiest time of the year to catch fish, since most species can be found shallow. By shallow, I mean water that is 10 feet deep or less. But, as the water warms and weeds and vegetation grow, Many fish move to an area of comfort close to their food source. This comfort area often is in deeper water and close to mid-lake structure like rock bars, steep breaklines, underwater points, and deep water weeds. All fish species have a comfort zone where there is a water temperature that they prefer and baitfish in the vicinity. The comfort zones for largemouth bass are much different than that of the walleye. Largemouth bass tolerate warmer water and love weeds while the walleye wants cooler water and often a hard bottom of rock and gravel. But, all fish have to feed regularly especially in warm weather when there metabolism is at a higher level. So, there are exceptions to all of these patterns and the exceptions are usually centered on the food supply. Walleyes, though they prefer the cooler and deeper water in the summer, will go shallower if that’s where the baitfish or food is at that time of the year. There are definite patterns, but nothing is written in stone and there are always exceptions.
The amount of boat traffic can change and affect when fish actively feed. As an example, Lake Mendota and Lake Wisconsin are not good lakes to fish on weekends, when boat traffic is at its peak and fish can easily be spooked. These lakes should be fished in the evening or early morning during low-light periods when boat traffic is at a minimum. If you can, fish during the week when there is little commotion and competition.
Another factor that can determine the location of the fish that you’re after is the water’s oxygen level. During warm and hot weather, a lake’s oxygen level can be too low for the fish’s comfort. During times like this, you will often find fish concentrated in areas with a higher oxygen level. This, combined with the movement of baitfish can determine where in the water column fish may be on any given day. As an example, in the heat of summer most panfish on Madison’s Lake Monona are found in the top 20 feet of the water column over 30 to 40 feet of water. Bluegills are highest up in the column, next are crappies which can be found anywhere in the top 20 feet, and perch which are found in the deepest area of the water column where there is still a good level of oxygen.
Another thing that I would highly recommend is to buy a good map of the lake that you plan to fish. Navionics and Lakemaster are companies that besides making “chips” for GPS units make quality maps. Take a good look at the map and mark areas that look good for fishing. A large percentage of most lakes can be eliminated as fishing hot spots or good locations. Look for drop-offs, sunken islands, rock piles, bottom content, underwater weeds, and sharp breaking contours on your map. These are the locations that you want to zero in on! But, the number one factor for all fish species is food and that is where the fish will usually be. If you locate baitfish, the gamefish will be close by. A good map combined with quality electronics will do wonders for your fishing, no matter what time of the year it may be!
The price of “good” electronics has become very reasonable and a decent Lowrance or Humminbird unit without GPS can be purchased for less than $250.00. A few years ago, a unit might cost you double this amount. The electronics’ resolution and number of pixels will greatly help with your search for fish, good structure, and the key, forage. The map and electronic unit will greatly help you improve your fishing and help put you in position to catch fish, no matter what the season. Much like computers, fishing electronics are going down in price while the quality and added features have improved for the benefit the angler.
Though, July and August can be difficult with algae blooms, warm water, weeds, and boat traffic there are always fish to be caught with today’s new products, tactics, and available information. Fish don’t get “lockjaw”, they may get harder to find, feed at different times, and be in different locations during warm weather. But, as I’ve said repeatedly, fish must regularly feed. You, just have to find the where, when, and how your favorite fish species feeds. Quit fishing memories and get tuned in on the seasonal patterns and the habits of your targeted fish. This will greatly improve your fishing success and no matter what, fishing is always more fun when you catch fish!
Don’t forget the Wilderness Fish and Game store’s “Take an Adult Fishing Tournament’ on Saturday, July 23rd . Be sure and stop by and pick up an application for your team or group. Great prizes for all with trophies, goodie bags, and more. This is one of summer’s highlights for taking children and families fishing! I hope to see you there.

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