There are basically three ways to reduce the brutal toll that Mississippi’s August heat and humidity can put on the human body — change times, stay on the move, create shade, and, of course, be successful.
Yes, the latter counts. Admit it, the heat is not so bad when the fish are biting. You know it’s true.
But, fishermen are not always in control of that equation. So let’s look at what we can do.
Catfishing with jugs (where legal) is a great way to beat the heat, even in the afternoon.
“We do it from a pontoon boat, and we can stay in the shade of the canopy top, be comfortable and even run a fan off a pigtail connection to the battery,” said Randy Powell of Grenada. “We usually start late in the afternoon, around 4 or 5, and fish on past midnight.
“In the afternoon, we stay on the move as much as possible to create moving air just to get us to dark. We often have to quit earlier because we run out of room in the fish box.”
Crappie fishermen have two options; one is fishing at night with lights.
“I do some of my best fishing at night at Eagle Lake under piers that have lights, and if I need to, I bring my own floating lights to put in the water,” said Rick Watson of Vicksburg. “Once we find a hot pier, the lights will draw insects, then minnows and then crappie. We can stay at one spot and catch fish for an hour then move around to find another one.”
At Mississippi’s northern flood control impoundments (Grenada, Enid, Sardis and Arkabutla), and at Barnett Reservoir, crappie fishermen stay cool by trolling. Pontoon boats are very popular, but you will see many different rigs ranging from bass boats with big umbrellas to johnboats with folding canopy tops.
Trolling is also popular with striped bass fishermen on Barnett Reservoir, with fishermen enjoying the man-made breeze.
Bass fishermen are limited, since trolling is really not an option.
“Get in good shape, drink a boat-load of water with an occasional Gatorade and spend some money to find a long-sleeved breathable shirt made for keeping you cool,” said Paul Wilson of Jackson. “Another thing I tried and it works are the different materials that you soak in ice water and wear around the neck. They work, but then even a towel occasionally dipped in ice, or a rotation of towels that can keep them cool and ready, will work.
“Summer can be some of the best bass fishing, especially in August once the fish have settled on their deep haunts. You have to fish patiently and that’s not possible when you are worried about the heat.”
Night fishing is one option for bass. Predator fish like largemouth start prowling in the cooling waters right after sunset. They will blast top-waters but will also hit a 10-inch black worm. Hawkins talks to several fishermen to get their secrets to fooling bass at night. Work the edges of grass if possible or fish stump fields.
In the Gulf, the best way to beat the heat is to start the day on trout and reds in the morning and then running the crab pots and other surface cover to pursue tripletails. Fishing at 30 miles per hour ... pretty darned cool.
Of course, there is another alternative for keeping cool, but it requires having a ladder to regain access to the boat.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reached the point where I needed a whole-body cool, and that requires diving off into the lake,” Wilson said. “I fish in quick-dry shorts just for that purpose.”