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My favorite haunt when it’s hot

Posted: June 24th, 2015 by Bill Dance

In a recent blog, I discussed the importance of water temp to cold-blooded fish. Well, after writing it, I realized there was something else that I wanted to add when it comes to fishing the extremes. I wanted to tell you how I like to catch them in the heat, here in my neck of the woods and water–the Mid-South.

Oh sure, many anglers stay home during the extremes: when it’s either too cold or too hot. Not me, I’ve had the ice fill my rod guides (and old trick has always been to spray PAM cooking oil on ‘em), and I have stood in the boat when I thought the rubber soles of my shoes were going to meld to the bass boat’s carpet.

But, back to what I neglected to tell you in the blog on temps and fish. I wanted to tell you how my favorite haunts in the hot summer months are oxbow lakes. Oxbows are basically old river runs that have been cut off from the flow of the main river. They are in low-lying areas and in the South, you might not find a hotter spot than down in these bottomland lakes. There is no current, and most often no wind. That’s doesn’t sound like a fun place to be come July or August, does it?

Well, believe it or not, it can be. I have always liked to fish these lakes, but I really target them in the warmer months.

The key for finding summer success in these old river runs is oxygen content. There are certain times of the day, via the photosynthesis process, that aquatic plants produce the most oxygen. It (oxygen content) spikes, and as it turns out, this time is when the summer sun is high. Yes, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., oxygen levels are peak, or at the least levels are higher than they will be at any other time of the day. And the fish respond. This is the time when they are more actively feeding.

Yes, I like to carry an oxygen meter with me on such trips. This provides tell-tale information and eliminates a lot of the guess work and keeps me from wasting time in areas where I know oxygen levels are low.

I am looking for is a dissolved oxygen reading of at least five parts per million and if it’s higher, well, that’s even better. Let’s say I find that reading 2-3 feet under the surface, down to five feet, well, that’s the area I am going to target. On the other hand, if the oxygen content drops to three parts per million in an area or depth, I don’t think I need to waste my time fishing there.

Now, the bottom line: Is fishing the river bottom in the famed dog days of summer the most comfortable time for for me? Why no, not by any stretch of the imagination. But that’s when I am out there, because it’s the more comfortable (and more active) time for the fish and I am out there to get my line stretched, not my imagination!

As always, catch one for me!

Bill Dance

Tennessee

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