By Frank Sargeant
For a least a generation, if not longer, many Florida anglers have avoided fishing this time of the year, hiding behind the old “Fish don’t bite in hot weather” bunk.
That’s just not so. Any wild creature not able to cope with air and water temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s wouldn’t be able to survive and pass on its genes in this part of the world.
The truth of the matter is, humans are the critters challenged when the mercury climbs.
The following are a few pointers to help you hold your own in super sweat weather:
• Consume lots of liquids. A good rule of thumb is you should concentrate on keeping a water container, such as a cup or glass, both full and empty. If it is empty, refill it immediately, and then proceed to drink it empty, only to refill and begin the process anew. Summer air temperatures will be drawing off water in the form of perspiration from almost every pore on your torso and limbs.
It is accurate to say you will be challenged to hold your own with this process. Keep drinking. Water is probably your best bet, followed by the so-called athletic drinks, then fruit juices. Carbonated and fermented drinks will not do the job.
• If your boat has any form of shade, such as a Bimini top or a tee-top, use it. Even a couple square yards of shade can provide comfort to two or three anglers.
• Don’t be tempted to shed your clothing. Wear long-sleeved cotton shirts, or even better, the fishing garb offered at some tackle dealers and in almost all of the fishing mail-order houses. These tend to wick-off excess heat and perspiration. Wear a wide-brimmed fishing hat. Many experienced modern-day anglers are reverting back to large straw hats, which offer both shade and allows air to move through, cooling the scalp.
• During the heat of the day, avoid places where air movement is restricted, such as canals, bayous and small bays.
• If you or a member of your party becomes overheated, crank the engine and run a half-mile or so in one direction and then back to your fishing spot. High speed will usually cool you off for a period of time.
• Keep one water container in the ice chest to be used specifically to cool you and your crew down. A little cold water poured over your wrists, the folds of your arms, around your temples or throat will usually cool you within seconds. Drape a towel around your neck, and pour at least a pint of this cold water onto the towel, and allow it to cool your neck and throat.
Sometimes just dipping a hat full of water from the side of the boat and then pouring it over your head and shoulders will offer some relief.
• Avoid high-energy foods that will drive body temperatures upward. Fresh fruits may offer cooling if they have been in the ice chest and will also replenish electrolytes. Pretzels are far superior to chips and other high-carb, high-fat snacks. The ratio of salt is high in the pretzels which may be needed when you’ve been sweating for hours.
None of this is to discourage you from fishing at mid-summer, but instead may help you continue to fish when others fold and head for the air conditioning..