Outdoor Report: The heat is returning
Hot weather looks poised for a return engagement this weekend, good news for the fans of blazing sun, not-so-welcome news for those who are still recovering from the heat-fest of the Fourth of July week. Should the heat descend as forecast, we’re recommending lots of sunscreen, wide-brimmed hats and a dose of discretion in time spent outside during hours of high sun. This month is starting out like a real blazer, with hot temperatures more like August than July, and all outside activity is now dictated by unseasonable heat.
We’d be remiss if we did not remind people to hydrate well (water is best!) before and during any outside activity. Long-sleeve shirts make sense to protect against the sun, as does the fore mentioned sunscreen and hats to protect skin from direct sun. A little sun can go a long way when we have the heat we’ve had this year. And news broke this week of outbreaks of blue green algae on some lakes. That can be fatal to dogs, and irritating to humans, so if any water looks suspect, avoid it.
All that heat has brought water temperatures way up on all area lakes, which has spurred the algae growth and driven fish deep into cooler water. The rains we’ve had have helped keep lakes fresh, which is fortunate. The southern part of the state is very hot and very dry, and we are getting reports of northern pike die-off on some waters due to that combination. With luck we’ll avoid that, and the heavy rains of the past weeks will help that. Many lakes are still low from the years of drought we recently experienced, and it will take a lot of rain to bring them back to average.
Fishing this week has been best for largemouth bass, no real surprise as they tolerate the heat well. Early morning is a great time, as temperatures make time on the water more bearable, and fish are active. Fish the edges of surface weeds and lily pads during early daylight hours; move out to deeper water during the high sun (or get off the water and cool down); and then fish the pads and weedy areas again at sundown. All manner of lures work, but a soft-bodied plastic frog imitation with weedless hooks is great for the thick stuff.
Muskies have slowed down some, and we think that will continue as long as the heat holds. Most fish are deeper now, and muskies are no exception. We’d work for them with deeper-running lures unless we have a day of heavy overcast. Those days you should not need to go as deep, and fishing shallower-running lures or surface lures makes sense.
Walleyes are deep and tough to find. What fish we are seeing are taking small bites of crawler on a jig, or possibly some jig/leech combinations. Artificial leeches are also working well when the walleyes show an appetite. But we’re not going to pretend that walleye action in the heat is very good.
In times of heat, being in the water often seems a better idea than being on the water. But the appeal of a fast-moving motor boat or jet ski, or the slower pace of a kayak or stand up paddleboard is undeniable, and this week looks to be one that provides plenty of opportunity for all.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.