Outdoor Report: The heat is here to stay
Hot, dry weather continues to dominate life in the northwoods. Day after day sees temperatures rise above the average, and the cumulative effect is a corresponding rise in lake temperatures. And while rainfall has been adequate, above the norm actually, we have been in a dry spell which contributes to rising water temperatures. All in all, July conditions are looking far more like August.
Which is not to complain. It is summer, and summer brings heat (and is typically drier than spring or fall). What it does for outdoor enthusiasts is simply to put a different light on things. One simply has to be prudent about time spent outside under a blazing sun. Gone are the days when we had little reason to be concerned about overexposure to sunshine. Now sunscreen, long sleeved shirts and clothing rated for sun protection are all in the “necessary” list for anyone who spends time outside. And long gone are the times when being active in the heat did not bring the caution to hydrate continuously.
So, as the heat continues, our recommendation for gear has to include plenty of sunscreen, protective clothing and lots of water! Use all of that, and you’ll go a long way toward making your experience more enjoyable.
The heat of summer is demanding for any who bicycle, run or walk for exercise. We really advise going out in the early morning, when temperatures are cool and the air calm. You can gradually build comfort to the heat of the day, but start slowly. Bicyclists have it easiest, as most bikes can be equipped with a water bottle holder, and the cyclist can (and should) aim to drink about one bottle per hour out. Runners and walkers can carry water as well.
But those are not the only activities that require caution. Anyone in a boat, whether for water skiing or fishing, needs to carry water with them. It just makes sense. Too much heat is simply a difficult situation, and everyone needs to address it with simple precautions.
Having noted all that, on to some specifics on fishing in this weather. First off, the heat of July and August typically sends fish deep, looking for cooler water. But no matter where they are, they do need to feed, and when they feed, they can be caught, and sometimes in places you’d not expect them.
This week, under a midday sun on a crowded lake, one angling party had fast and furious action on crappies and bass both. Crappies were, no surprise, deep (25 feet on this lake) and they were very aggressive in spite of the sun, the heat and lots of boat traffic. They hit well on small twister tails.
On that same trip largemouth bass were situated in shallower water (10 to 12 feet) but they also were active. That is less of a surprise, as largemouth like the heat. Most smallmouth will remain deep, along rocky areas on the deep, cool water. Walleyes often are in that same situation, but often closer to deep weeds.
Musky action is, as usual for mid summer, slow. Fish are scattered, but like cooler water as well. They are also active after sundown, so later evening and early morning often produce strikes.
The heat is here for the duration of July and into next month, so the best we can offer is to find a way to deal with it and not let it keep you from getting outside.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.