Hot enough for you? Man, I'm burning up. The older I get, the less tolerant I am of our typical, tropical summers. O.K., I admit it: The air conditioning and soft living have turned me into a woos.

I just don't enjoy crappie fishing in hot weather. When I go this time of the year, I try to limit my fishing to early morning hours.

Beat the heat

For the next two or three months, I recommend crappie fishing at times other than mid-day. A buddy of mine and the undisputed Barnett Reservoir Crappie King, Mr. Rabbit Rogers, scoffs at this advice.

"The hotter it gets, the better they bite," Rabbit tells me.

Why?

"Seems the crappie don't necessarily like the hot weather any better than you, Paul," he says. "They've just got sense enough to get in the shade, and at Barnett, that means they congregate around the stumps in the coolest water they can find. The deep-water stumps offer really the only shade available. That puts most of them in the same predictable places on the Rez every summer."

But, still, if you're like me and not that mad at them any more, you'll go early in the morning and quit before the mid-day heater kicks in.

And forget it on the weekends during summer. I've had it with the jet skiers, the pleasure boaters and the weekenders who have absolutely no idea how to load and unload a ski boat. Even with gas prices out of sight, the crazies show up on Saturday and Sunday.

Summertime tips

Let me give you some crappie fishing tips that seem to make sense this time of the year.

Lighten up.

Lighten the size and weight of your crappie jigs. Try sizes like 1/32, 1/64 and even 1/100 in hair and rubber skirts. I usually fish with jigs from 1/16 to 1/8 sizes. I'll even add an extra split shot above the jig if I'm fishing deep ledges and drops.

This is the wrong thing to do in hot weather at Barnett or any other crappie lake where you're trying to locate fish on vertical structure (stumps).

Why? Glad you asked.

The fall rate is critical when catching fish that are stuck to straight-up-and-down stumps. Now, I admit that I laughed at the sight of the first 1/100-ounce "crappie fly" that a Reelfoot fishing guide showed me years ago. Talk about tiny!

But that crappie is down there about 9 feet deep on that stump, and he's looking up for his next meal. Will he hit that bait that drops past him before he can get a good fix on it, or will he pounce on that slow-falling bait that gives him a chance to hone in on it?

Try lighter sizes in your jigs.

Dress for it.

Now I'm not one to be handing out fashion tips or telling you how to get dressed in the morning, but I know what works for me.

I really like the new synthetics that apparel makers are fashioning sports clothing from. In winter, people who spend a lot of time fighting the elements will tell you that "cotton kills." Though cotton has traditionally been great for outdoorsmen in hot weather, it can be improved. Personally, the new stuff that wicks moisture from my body keeps me cooler than cotton. Try the stuff. My favorites are fishing shirts made from Supplex.

Get the ones that have a sun-blocking feature of at least 30. Skin cancer is nothing to mess with.

And for goodness sake, get rid of the head gear that you wear in cold months - what ever that might be. Remember that 80 percent of your body heat escapes from your head and shoulders. So let it.

Oh, you need some head wear alright - just not the dark-colored full-cloth caps or covers you wear during deer season.

Cool colors like white and pastels help a bunch with the old internal thermometer. If you don't believe me, take two shirts with you - a black one and a white one. You'll be leaving that black one at the house on your next summer fishing trip.

And don't ever leave the bank without applying the sunscreen first. That's just asking for trouble.

The skin cancer doctors recommend at least two applications a day of sunscreen rated 30 SPF or higher. I've found one that works for me that does not leave me smelling like a fruit. Forgive the commercial, but ZEP makes an individually packed towelette of sunscreen that has no odor and no greasy residue. It's great for fishermen. Other brands are readily available these days, too.

Drink, man, drink.

What's the rule? If you wait until you're thirsty to drink some water, you're already dehydrated. Heat stroke ain't funny, folks. It's a real potential killer, and it doesn't care how bad you think you are.

Yes, I'm old enough to say that my coaches back in my younger days denied us water. Said it made us tough.

That was just wrong.

You have to start early and drink more water than you think you need to prevent heat stroke on the water in our Mississippi summers. I've read it from more than one source that for a fisherman to spend eight hours on the water in 90-plus-degree temperatures, he should drink 12 bottles of water. That's 12, buddy, 12 A DAY.

Liven 'em up.

Do you fish with minnows this time of the year? I do, and I have a real problem keeping them alive in my baitwell - especially on tournament trips where I need minnows for two or three days. It seems to me that the hot water temperatures are bad on minnows, too.

Cooling them down with a little ice will make a world of difference. Get you some of that chlorine killer chemical from any pet supply store or department. It's not expensive, and it helps keep the ice (which is made from chlorinated water) from doing more harm than good. A $2 bottle will last you forever.

Crappie are not very heat-tolerant, either. In the crappie club, we're moving toward keeping our tournament catch alive for weigh-in purposes more and more, and it's damn near impossible to do this time of the year unless you really pay attention.

Don't overload the livewell. Keep the aerator set on automatic with the on cycles coming frequently. I'm using a livewell "keep alive" rejuvenator product, too. Throw some ice in the livewell every now and then.

Stay cool, man, and catch you one this summer as big as they grow. I'll be out there - just see me early.

I can't wait until October.