Mother Nature is done messing around. After unseasonably cool temperatures ruled May and June, this month has brought the sweltering heat Treasure Valley summers are known for.
Many anglers eschew fishing in 100-degree weather, either for comfort reasons or because they think fish don’t bite in extreme heat. The former is understandable, but we will hopefully remedy those concerns by the end of this column. And the latter is largely a misnomer. Species like bass, bluegill and catfish thrive in warm weather — I once caught 60 smallmouth bass on an afternoon when the thermometer read 106 on the Snake River — and most trout streams stay cool enough for fish to stay active year-round.
The key to catching fish in the heat is keeping yourself safe and comfortable. And that’s where these tips come in handy:
▪ Hydrate. This one is obvious, but vital. I tend to get pretty locked in when I fish, so I have to remind myself to stop and chug a water bottle every hour or so. Plan for at least 20 ounces of water per hour, plus a bottle on the way to the lake and another on the way home. Beer and soda don’t count toward your fluid total! Beer, especially, will dehydrate you, so bring extra water if you plan to imbibe.
▪ Cover up. Contrary to popular belief, long sleeves actually help you beat the heat. Under Armour, Huk, Orvis and other outfitters make breathable, lightweight shirts and hoodies to keep the sun off your skin. Sunglasses and a hat are must-haves, too. On really hot days, I like to dunk my hat in the water to keep my head cool. A face/neck gaiter is good for dunking, too.
▪ Venture in. On those 100-degree days, nothing beats a waist-high wade into the river. Instead of waders, gear up with good water shoes and swim trunks. Stay safe and watch your step!
▪ Tube it up. Aluminum boats heat up like a microwave in the sun. Float tubes provide a cooler alternative for getting out on the water. If you’ve never done it, imagine fishing out of a recliner, waist-deep in the water. Sounds pretty great, right? As an added bonus, float tubes can get you onto smaller lakes that lack boat access, such as Bruneau Dunes, Halverson and countless alpine gems.
▪ Head higher. Speaking of alpine lakes, heading uphill is a great way to beat the heat. Mountain campgrounds and trailheads are, on average, 15–20 degrees cooler than the Valley, and temps usually drop a few degrees as you ascend into remote mountain lakes. Pack in a float tube and you’ll be downright chilling while cutthroat trout chase your spinners or flies!
Enjoying a day on the water is a great way to cool off during a heat wave. Just be mindful of hydration and safety, dress appropriately and don’t hesitate to hop in the water, seek higher elevation or both. Hopefully, the fishing will match the weather.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at firstname.lastname@example.org.