Summer Catch: Do Fish Bite When Its Hot?

John Malcolm
John MalcolmPublished: March 24, 2023
Summer Catch: Do Fish Bite When Its Hot?

Hot weather can make fishing a challenge, but that doesn't mean you have to stay at home. Afterall, fish do bite when it's hot, with some caveats.

With the right strategies and tactics, you can still make the most of your time on the water and catch some fish, even in hot weather.

There are certain baits and lures that work better than others during this season, as well as specific times of day when it's best to go out.

By understanding how fish behave in hot weather, you'll be able to maximize your chances for success.

We will discuss tips for finding fish in hot weather conditions and which baits will give you the best results. Hopefully, with an ounce of luck as well, you'll outfish the other anglers on a scorching day.

Understanding fish behavior in hot weather.

Fish are finicky animals by nature. Hence we use "lures" to lure them in and "tricks" to get them to bite. On hot days, these tricks can be more difficult as the water temperature rises and fish become less active.

If you really want to catch fish in the heat of the summer, you have to understand why they won't bite and find ways to get them to do so.

The first thing you need to understand is that fish can be very uncomfortable in high temperatures, especially if the water they inhabit is shallow or stagnant. Warmer water increases the fish's metabolic rate and, therefore, their need for oxygen. If the water is not sufficiently oxygenated, the fish's activity will be reduced.

However, since fish can't control their body temperatures like warm-blooded mammals, they have to move to cooler spots in order to survive. This means that during the summer months, fish will generally be found in deeper, cooler waters. They might also be in the cooler flows of a current.

Another factor that affects how fish behave is the air pressure. Which, of course, is tied to the weather. With the higher air pressures, the weather is generally a bit nicer and warmer, which sends fish to the depths seeking cool water.

What factors influence fish activity in hot weather?

Sure, hot weather might not be the ideal fishing weather since fish tend to get a little sluggish and lethargic when it's hot, but what exactly affects this?

Water temperatures.

  • Optimal temperature range varies: For example, trout thrive in water around 50-60°F (10-15°C), while bass prefer warmer waters around 65-75°F (18-24°C).

The biggest factor that drives fish behavior in hot weather is the water temperature. If the water gets too hot, fish will seek out cooler spots either by moving deeper or to areas with more shade.

Fish are cold-blooded animals and need to maintain a certain range of body temperature in order to survive.

Keep in mind that ideal water temps vary from species to species.

Oxygen levels.

  • Oxygen saturation decreases as water warms: Cold water can hold approximately 12-14 mg/L of oxygen, while warmer water may hold only 6-8 mg/L.

The oxygen levels of the water can also influence fish behavior in hot weather. Higher temperatures mean that the metabolic rate of the fish increases and they require more oxygen to stay alive. If there is not enough dissolved oxygen in the water, the fish will become sluggish to preserve energy.

In warmer water the oxygen levels tend to be lower so you will need to find spots with higher levels of oxygen. We'll dive into those in just a minute; however, it's something to keep in mind.

Water depth.

  • Temperature variation with depth: Surface water can be significantly warmer, while temperatures may decrease by several degrees every 10 feet deeper.

Now that you know that water temperatures and oxygen levels can influence fish activity in hot weather, let's take a look at water depth. The deeper the water, the cooler it tends to be since the sun can't reach it as easily.

Shallow waters heat up faster and tend to be more turbulent which can make them uncomfortable for some species of fish. Deep waters are also better oxygenated since the oxygen-rich surface water can sink down.

Therefore, try to find deeper waters when fishing in hot weather since fish will likely be seeking out these cooler spots.

Currents.

  • Temperature in moving water: Streams and rivers with currents can be several degrees cooler than stagnant water bodies.

In addition to deeper waters, currents can also be a great spot to target in hot weather. Moving water will naturally be cooler since it's being constantly replenished with cool, oxygen-rich surface water.

Fish may use the current as a way to conserve energy and take advantage of the food that flows by them.

Time of day and light.

  • Peak feeding times: Fish are often most active during cooler periods, such as 1-2 hours before sunrise and 1-2 hours after sunset.

On those hot summer days with the sun beating down on the water, try fishing early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is less intense. This is a period of the day when the water is a bit cooler, and the fish may use this time to feed.

Light can also be a factor when it comes to fishing in hot weather. Fish are sensitive to light and can be less active during the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest. However, they may become more active as it gets darker or on cloudy days when there's less light penetrating the water.

5 tips for catching fish when it's hot.

Many anglers avoid fishing altogether on hot days. You don't have to wait for perfect fishing weather if you know what you're doing.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when fishing in hot weather—

Look for deeper, cooler waters.

When you're heading out on the water for the day, look for deeper waters since these will generally be cooler. Naturally, the shallows with structures are great for catching bass, but even the big boys will move into the depths of the lake when it's hot.

Take advantage of currents.

This tip is dependent on the body of water, of course. If you have a river, creek, or even large lake with significant currents, these can be great spots to try. As mentioned previously, the moving water will bring in cooler water and more food for the fish - a great combination to get fish in a feeding frenzy.

Fish early morning or late evening.

Timing is critical on hot days. Take advantage of the colder waters during the early hours or late evening when the sun is setting. You may not even have to wait for sunset as many fish will become more active during twilight and start feeding right before the sun goes down.

With this, you're trying to avoid the hottest parts of the day. So even if you can fish at night when the temperatures are cooler, you may find some luck.

Shaded Lake Perfect for Bass

Find the shade or structures.

Just like people, fish will seek shelter from the heat. Look for areas that offer shade or have structures that might provide cooler water. These could be docks, bridges, fallen or overhanging trees, brush piles, and any other structure in the water. The fish may retreat here for a bit of mid-day respite when it's particularly hot out.

Agitate the fish, don't feed them.

Just because the fish aren't eating doesn't mean they aren't there. They may be lethargic, so you'll have to work a little harder to get their attention. Use fast and noisy lures and make some commotion to entice the fish into striking your bait. They may strike out of pure agitation (especially bass), so don't be discouraged if they don't take it right away. Cast your lure, bring it in quickly, and cast again.

Best baits and lures for hot weather fishing.

Some baits work better than others all the time, and some baits may be better suited for hot weather fishing. Here are a few of the best baits we've discovered over the years that work best in hotter weather.

Topwater lures.

When you're fishing for bass, try using topwater lures such as frogs and poppers. These lures will help you cover a lot of water quickly and can be very effective for enticing fish in hot weather.

Bass are predators. They'll lay in the shade of the dock or a tree and attack topwater lures in the open water as they pass by.

Buzz Bait Skimming Through Water

Buzz baits.

Remember our tip about agitating the fish? Buzz baits are great at this. Whether you're fishing from a boat or from the shore, use a shiny buzz bait to capture the attention of bass and trout.

Yes, we've caught a lot of trout on buzz baits. Especially on hot summer days.

The noise and the shining reflections of the spinner will grab their attention and irritate them.

Plastic worms.

Most anglers will agree that nothing beats a plastic worm when it comes to bass. It's a tough one to beat. The same holds true even on days when fishing weather is not ideal.

You may have to try a few different colors and troll the water slowly to get them to take this bait, but it's worth it. What you're trying to do is give a large bass that is lethargic from the heat an easy catch for a meal.

When is the best time of the day to fish in hot weather?

If you have time on your hands, then you might want to wait for a cold front to pass through before you head out. Cold fronts usually bring cooler air and water temperatures, so they can be great days to go fishing.

If the weather is hot, but there’s no cold front in sight, then your best bet is to fish either early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun isn't as strong. Try applying some of the tips we recommended and use some of the lures.

Remember, if one thing doesn't work, try something else. Personally, I like to try variations in color when I'm out on the boat until I find something they're striking on that day.

John Malcolm

John Malcolm

Expert Angler

John is a highly skilled angler with over two decades of experience and a passion that has led him to participate in numerous tournaments, including reeling in a remarkable 9lb bass on Lake Okeechobee. His dedication to fishing and willingness to share his expertise make him a respected ambassador for the angling community, inspiring others to appreciate the sport.

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