JEFF KNAPP: Anglers can adjust in hot weather
Peering down into the murky water, I half expected to see a python or boa slither out onto the weedy bank. The 90-degree-plus day had a tropical feel to it, unlike the relative cool we’ve been experiencing much of this spring and summer in western Pennsylvania.
Though summer typically brings periods of soaring temperatures, there are certain adjustments an angler can make to continue to enjoy sport throughout the season.
FISH THE COOLEST TIME OF THE DAY: Dawn cracks pretty early this time of year — the skies brighten by 5 a.m. following a cloudless night — which means if you can crawl out of the rack early enough to be on the water at dawn, you’ll enjoy several hours of fishing before the heat builds up.
Also, if you have a choice, pick days when the forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies. Even during extreme heat it feels significantly cooler when you’re not exposed to the unbuffered rays of the sun.
DRESS FOR SUCCESS: Today’s anglers have a wide variety of clothing designed especially for protection and comfort during warm-weather fishing.
Perhaps the most significant of this is in the headgear category. Wide-brimmed hats of the boonie and fedora styles provide an umbrella of protection for the wearer. Avoid dark, heat-absorbing colors, opting for options such as khaki. Many models feature open mesh-type panels that catch the breeze. Another viable design seeing more common use is a baseball-style cap, but with an extra-long bill, and a lightweight cape that shields the back of the head.
Quick-drying nylon shirts and pants offer a high level of sun protection while keeping the wearer relatively cool. Shirts come in long sleeve and short, T-shirt and buttoned. Many of the pants have zip-off legs that convert to shorts, a handy attribute when fishing cool mornings that give way to hot afternoons.
A look at vintage angling pictures often reveals a fellow with a bandana around his neck. Chances are the bandana wasn’t to achieve that suave “sporting gentleman” look, but rather for the added comfort it provided. A water-soaked bandana worn around the neck provides a cool wrap in a key anatomic area. Technical bandanas like Columbia’s Omni-Freeze models take things to the next level, converting perspiration into cooling power. The more you sweat — the maker claims — the more they cool.
Footwear is another area to consider. Water shoes, as the name implies, are designed to get wet and then quickly dry. They offer a bit more protection than sandals; and you can relish in the cooling effect of dipping your dogs over the side of the boat, or wading the shallows.
And be sure to apply a quality sunscreen to exposed areas of skin — not only for long-term protection, but to keep from feeling like a radiant heater hours after you’ve come in from the sun.
FISH THE “COOL” PLACES: The heat of summer is a great time to immerse yourself, literally, in your fishing.
Trout anglers have the option of traveling a couple hours east to spring-fed waters like Centre County’s Spring Creek and Penns Creek, which stay relatively cool throughout the summer heat.
Closer to home one can participate in “wet wading,” which is wade fishing sans the traditional boots. Shorts and old sneakers — water shoes or wading shoes if you require better protection — are the garb. Even 80-degree water is nearly 20 degrees cooler than your body temperature. And water transfers heat (and cold) much more efficiently than air.
Many of our warm-water streams like Mahoning Creek and Crooked Creek provide good smallmouth bass fishing, just the thing for a quick break from the heat of summer.