There’s no question about it — the dog days of summer are upon us. It seems like just a few weeks ago we were wondering if summer would ever arrive. It has announced its presence with authority this month, blistering the Treasure Valley with day after day of 100-degree heat.
Luckily for anglers, fishing is a great way to beat the heat! Proximity to water always tadkes a few degrees off the sizzle, not to mention easy access to a refreshing dip in the lake. But as we fish in the intense summer heat, it’s important to put safety first and play it smart to protect ourselves from heat stroke, water accidents and other hazards. Here are a few important things to keep in mind:
Hydration, hydration, hydration: It’s easy to get caught up in our activities and forget to hydrate — especially an activity like fishing, which rarely qualifies as strenuous exercise. But if you are going to spend long hours in the sun, drinking plenty of water and electrolytes is vital. Bring a cooler full of liquids and always pack more than you need. Don’t forget to bring water for your dogs, as well — letting them drink out of the lake is risky in the summer when deadly blue-green algae blooms are in season.
Fish high, low, early or late: The afternoon sun can really roast you on the water, especially in town or along the Snake River. For more comfortable fishing, try high-mountain lakes and streams, where the elevation keeps temperatures in check. Or, give float tube fishing a try. Sitting nice and low in the water keeps your core temperature comfy and cool. Time of day is another consideration. Building your trips around dawn or dusk will keep you out of the harshest conditions.
Take a soak: When the heat becomes too much, a refreshing dip can be the perfect solution. Remember to use the buddy system! If you are fishing from a boat, wear a life jacket and avoid swimming in current. From shore, don’t wade in past your waist — if you want to submerge, just drop to your knees in shallower water. Sometimes, simply dangling your feet in the shallows from a beach chair or dock makes a huge difference. My favorite trick is soaking my hat and neck gaiter — keeping the blood flow to your head and neck cool does a great job of regulating temperature.
Give the fish a hand: Humans aren’t the only ones who feel the heat. It also has an effect on fish, particularly cold-water species like trout. Avoid fighting fish to exhaustion, keeping them out of the water or placing them in a live well (unless you intend to keep them). The quicker they return to the cool depths, the better their chance of survival.
Mother Nature has more triple-digit weekends in store for us, but don’t let that keep you off the water! With a little common sense, a lot of sunscreen and some summer safety tips, you can make sure your fishing trips are memorable for all the right reasons — no matter how high the thermometer climbs.