Outdoor Report: August heat has come early
Any long holiday weekend brings the risk of welcome visitors that, after a too-short time, wear out their welcome. Or so we’ve heard. While we can’t vouch for the certainty of that, we do have evidence this week of the same, for this week the heat of summer, welcomed by many, turned oppressive in its weight and, to many, wore out its welcome. Sunscreen joined brats and potato salad as must-have items for Fourth of July picnics, and sunburn matched the red-hot of fireworks on too many faces. By mid-week the novelty of August heat come early had worn off.
But that’s the beauty of living and visiting in lake country, and the solution to high heat and a brutal sun is often a leisurely dip in a cool lake. That activity may well have been the most popular in the past few days. And, with long-term forecasts showing continued heat, swimming may overtake a lot of other activities for managing the heat of a warm July.
Fishing in July can be an iffy proposition to start with; fish often sulk under lake surfaces that are beat to a froth with boat traffic and rising water temperatures that drive fish deep. Add to that the miserable heat of the past week that kept fishermen off the water, and it’s no surprise that fish action has dropped lately.
There are still fish to be caught, though, and as we head toward mid July, the same summer tactics that have ruled for decades still can be effective. First off, fish early or fish late. Dawn comes early this time of the year, but it’s often the best time to fish, as temperatures are pleasant and fish active. Evening is the late period, and we’d get out at sundown for the evening bite.
Musky action has been decent of late, with some big fish (for this time of the year) coming to boat. We’re talking muskies in the mid to upper 40-inch range, and we have seen a number of them caught of late. Weedy areas give fish of all species comfort in the heat, and we’d look for muskies along the edges of weed beds early in day. Mid-day usually finds fish deeper, so go with deeper running lures then. We think musky action will remain good this week, except under clear mid-day sun when motorboat traffic rules. If we do have some cloudy days, muskies often will be more active during daylight.
Walleye fishing remains slow. There have been a few good catches, but overall it’s been nothing special. Jigs tipped with half a night crawler can sometimes temp fish when they’re finicky. Most walleyes are in their usual summer neighborhoods of deep weed beds adjacent to gravel and sand bars. Evening is the best time to fish for them (unless you have a day with heavy overcast when fish can bite all day long).
As noted above, fishing early and late makes sense during summer, but so does going to smaller lakes that do not have heavy motor boat traffic. Those lakes are out there, and a good map will narrow down the field. Some of the small lakes off the beaten path will provide good fishing in July.
The weather is always key to outdoor activities, and in the heat of summer, sunscreen, lots of water to drink and moderate hours under high sun all make sense.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.