Fishing and
Summer Heat
Fishing Conditions
Aquatic Ecosystem
There are two times of the year when fish seem to go deep. It’s no surprise that February and August drive fish down deep as these months generally represent the two most extreme temperature ranges of the year.
If you’re an avid ice fisherman you’ll remember moving ‘out’ to the 40+ foot flats during the dead of a deep freeze in late January and February. Well, guess what? The summer heat waves of July and August yield the same result, pushing those fish down to the same locations you found them in during the dead of winter.

The reason is simple: the water temperatures down beyond 40 feet are usually more stable and often preferred by our favourite game fish.


Now here’s the hitch.
If your favourite lake is known for its windy disposition, it is likely to recirculate its depths regularly in summer and the cool deeper water mixes with warmer upper layer water thus neutralizing the fish’s ‘cool’ preferred temperatures. Fish have two responses to this phenomenon.
Lakes with a windy disposition tend to recirculate their depths regularly, neutralizing the preferred ‘cool' temperatures.

Photograph by Nipissing Muskies

Firstly, they’ll seek even deeper water until they find their comfort zone. I once witnessed the only concentration of fish I could find during a heat wave in August, as seen on my depth finder, sandwiched between 90 and 120 feet over a 171-foot hole! I suspect these unidentified fish schools might have gone even deeper if oxygen levels had permitted.

Fish have a second option to deal with the inescapable heat. Fish will adopt a negative feeding mood when stressed by high temperatures. Again, I illustrate this point when looking for perch on that same hot day in August. I was targeting the 30+ foot range but was surprised to see the fish pinned tight to the bottom in the deepest section of the flat. I did manage to coax a few to hit but they looked pale and not very happy!

While primarily a musky fisherman, I’d like to take this opportunity to issue a warm weather warning with respect to catching heat stressed fish of all species. I pride myself in practicing catch and release exclusively for trophy muskies and pike but occasionally it will happen; you’ll do everything right but some fish simply don’t survive the ordeal.

Dead musky - due to summer heat!
Another dead musky due to summer heat.
Dead musky - summer heat kills!
A sad sight - musky didn't survive summer heat.
Here are some tragic images from around the web. Do the fish a favor and let them be, when the mercury runs high.
Dan Colomby | Nipissing Muskies
Danny Colomby is a professional musky guide and owner of Nipissing Muskies

Photographs by Nipissing Muskies

Of the few fatalities I’ve encountered, ALL occurred in August's summer heat. Targeting muskies when the surface temps are 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher is NOT a good idea. In general, I try to minimize my outings during really hot weather unless I’m targeting keeper-sized walleye. Even bringing a big walleye or pike up out of 50 or 60 feet of water just for sport is NOT a good idea!

Wait until a cold front rolls through and the wind mixes the cooler air back into the system. The action will be better anyway and released fish have a much better chance of survival.  To all of you out there who fish with a conscience, I applaud you. Keep it up! We’re all responsible for the continued well-being of the fisheries we fish.

Are Musky Chasers Really Crazy? | - Featured Image


Muskies are Fast Learners

Cold Weather Fishing Tips - Feature Image -


Trophy Musky Time

The Challenge of Musky Fishing - Feature Image -


The Challenge of Musky Fishing

Share This