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Dog Days Fishing

Is It Ever Too Hot to Fish?

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Hot does not adequately describe how the days have been this month. Even in the Northeast United States temperatures have been hitting the high 90's (F) and across the nation a severe drought has been devastating plants and humans alike.

Hot as it was, I took this past couple of weeks to do some fishing in Florida, testing some new lures, and generally working my way from one end of the state to the other. What I found is that it is unbearably hot during the daylight hours, so hot that fishing became a chore.

This time of year has been called Dog Days since the time of the Romans. I used to think it was because the dogs I would see just laid around listlessly and did nothing because it was so hot. Not a bad explanation, and fitting for a description, but not at all accurate.

Dog Days got their name from the ancient Romans. It seems that the Dog Star, Sirius, in the constellation Canis Major rises with the sun during these, the hottest six to eight weeks of the year. Since it is a bright star, the brightest in the constellation, the Romans thought that it added to the heat of the sun. Therefore the days of July and August bore the heat of both the sun and Dog Star.

So fishing really comes to a halt during this time, right? Not if you are willing to change your habits!

The offshore water temperature only varies a few degrees during the summer months, so even in hot weather, fish can be caught offshore. We found several huge schools of Dolphin (Mahi Mahi), and the heat did not prevent them from attacking our trolled ballyhoo.

But inshore, the shallower water is more easily affected by water temperature. Fish hate hot water as badly as we hate hot air. They also react the same way we do. They look for the cooler places, and are active only when the sun is low and water has cooled.

So plan your trips accordingly. Late afternoon, evening, night and early morning hours can all be productive. We just need to adjust ourselves to the low or no light environment. Take a light with you, and never fish at night far offshore without a radio or another boat.

While storm clouds can be seen building during the day and are easy to avoid, they are less than visible at night. A storm at night can be one of your worst nightmares. So, check the weather reports and be prepared.

And can fish be caught at night? Some of my best catches have been made night fishing. Topwater baits inshore in calm water can produce vicious strikes. Deep water bottom fishing is sometimes even better at night. I guess the only type of fishing I have not done is billfish trolling at night. Frankly I never thought about it, but who knows, maybe even a stray marlin will eat at night.

So as you sit and hope the air conditioner will make it through these Dog Days to fall, consider changing your fishing times. It can be a refreshing change in stifling heat!

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