It’s the hottest time of the year—the time when the sweat runs out of your eyelids and earlobes. That’s not lint between your toes, it’s jungle rot. Don’t amputate just yet, though—you’ll need that foot to run your trolling motor. On some fisheries this is the absolute best time to be on the water.
Of course you can’t fish if you’re dehydrated, or fried like an egg, but “just plain uncomfortable” is fine when they’re really biting. Even if the fishing is just average, it’s better than being in an air-conditioned office listening to the boss drone on about a report that no one will remember in two weeks. On the contrary, I guar-an-tee you’ll remember that five-pound bass for years to come.
Skip the Sizzle
In recent years, anglers have widely converted to wearing clothing that protects them from the sun. We employ face gaiters (AKA, “buffs”), sun gloves and all manner of goofy hats. We don long sleeves and long pants to make sure that we don’t end up looking like a piece of overcooked bacon.
While sun protection and cooling are not necessarily mutually exclusive, they’re not synonymous, either. After all, you could wear a full body suit made of Hefty bags. You certainly wouldn’t get even the slightest tan, but then again you might end up shriveled like a raisin.
Don’t Sweat It
Instead, rely on fabrics that work to cool you off as well as cover you. Brands like Columbia, Under Armour, Huk, and of course World Wide Sportsman all make fishing-specific shirts and pants. They don’t just mark you as a member of the tribe. They also use fabrics that pull moisture away from you, dry quickly, and in some cases extract the nasty funk from your body. These are often cooler than your plain old cotton t-shirt.
The big hat and sun gloves may look like they’re the roof of a solar oven, but with the sun off of your skin, you’ll be surprised how quickly you forget about them. Just remember to take off the hat before you drive home, lest you get laughed at by passing motorists.
Fill Up the Tank
Of course, what you put in your body is as important as what you put on your body in these circumstances. Most of us need some sort of caffeine boost in the morning, but coffee and soda actually dehydrate you. Try to stick to just water or sports drinks during the day.
Specific electrolyte boosters like Emergen-C are even better. Make a gloopy, gloppy paste of the stuff and force yourself to finish it. If nothing else, the taste will make you forget about the heat. Bottom line, if you’re getting thirsty or haven’t relieved yourself, you’re behind the curve. Start drinking. Don’t go Rambo and tell us you don’t need it. You do.
Implement “The Treatment”
There are also some decidedly low-tech solutions. A buddy of mine used to have what he called “The Treatment.” Put a (preferably clean) dish towel in the bottom of your cooler at the beginning of the day and just when you start to see the light of deliriousness, pull it out and drape it over your head, letting the ice water run down the back of your neck. Lather, rinse, and repeat.
It’s glorious, and as long as there’s ice in the cooler (you did buy two bags at the Quickie Mart, didn’t you?) you can do it again and again. It’s even better with the Buff as you run down the lake, sucking in the fumes of old Moon Pies, jerky and Gatorades. Just make sure that you don’t put it in the bait bucket instead. I’d rather be warm.