Y es, August is so hot in Texas that the dogs prefer to stay in the shade and not move around a lot. Animals in general, and dogs in particular, are often wiser than we humans, so we would do well to follow their example.
Fishermen on the coast are prone to be affected by the heat and sun more than the average coastal resident. Too much time in the sun leads to skin cancer, of course, but the heat itself is often more dangerous.
The “cooling” breeze coming off the Gulf can add wind burn to your already painful sunburn. Still some of the best and most pleasant fishing of the year will happen in August if we are prudent about sun exposure and time our efforts to cooler parts of the day.
Inshore fishing might be best in the same deeper holes and channels that pay off in winter, and for the same reason. Fish will seek protection there from extremes in temperature—whether cold or heat.
In daylight hours, shallow bay flats and reefs and even the surf are best fished very early and late when water temperatures are more tolerable. Tidal movement is even more important, as currents can also cool down the watery environment.
Cloudy days offer heat relief, and if the clouds issue forth with rain that is even better. Wet wading is the norm, of course, but the surface of a calm bay or Gulf can be a very efficient mirror to intensify the burning effect of the sun. Although the surf can be comfortable when it’s bathwater temperature, fish will still seek a more invigorating habitat.
Night fishing provides the ultimate protection from the sun for both fish and fishermen. Using artificial light at night to attract bait, will usually be more productive for speckled trout especially, and to a lesser extent redfish than during the heat of the day.
The “green” lights especially designed for fishing are especially good for attracting bait and predator species when employed either above or below the surface of the water. Water clarity, however, will be a factor in just how good they are.
When hunting hogs, I found a light that only comes on just before shots are fired is not nearly as successful as one that is “on” every night, in the same place. This also can be true in fishing. Stationary lights on bridges, marina docks, and piers nearly always attract marine life, resulting in better fishing.
Fishing during the day, anglers in boats have the option of either trolling or drifting with the wind to help keep a little cooler. This helps as long as the wind and current are not going in the same direction at a similar speed.
Boats can also offer shade in the form of canopies—even a small “T-top” helps on a hot day, although the bigger the shaded area, the better. Of course, when fishing offshore on larger boats, an air-conditioned cabin is the ultimate in cool comfort.
In summer as well as winter, water temperatures in deep water do not vary nearly as much as surface temps will. Deep-water snappers and groupers often live in water temperature that’s stable all year. Even surface feeders have the luxury of holding in cooler, deeper water until they can make a fast dash toward the sky to attack schooling prey.
Because of these differences, the main changes a fisherman needs to make in hotter months is to wear good sunscreen, a long-sleeved shirt of a cool material, and a hat. Although ball caps are undoubtedly the most popular, a hat with a wider, full brim provides more protection—especially for the back of your neck.
Don’t forget the body’s natural protections, either. One summer I thought it would be “cool” to shave my head, but my next surf fishing trip resulted in a severe burn to the back of my now unprotected neck. If you must indulge in such foolishness, pick a hat with a “flap” on the back.
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Location: In daylight hours, the surf beyond the third sandbar and deeper channels are best.
Species: All warm water species will be abundant—specks, reds and flounders inshore, and an almost limitless variety offshore.
Bait: Live bait may be hard to get, and harder to keep alive. It is not a good idea, however, to put ice in your live well to lower the water temperature unless it is encased in a plastic bag or bottle so the water stays salty.
Best Time: Early morning and late evening tides are best for inshore, but night fishing is even better, and also good offshore. Lights help attract both bait and fish. In addition, fishermen on an offshore charter boat with two licensed captains who are out overnight and have a receipt to prove it are allowed two-day limits of fish such as king mackerel, ling, and red snapper. Note that this does not apply to overnight trips in state waters, though.
Email Mike Holmes at [email protected]