When the thermometer on the porch of Goober’s Feed & Seed pops, anglers can take a hint.
It’s too hot to fish.
Some didn’t use to pay any attention to hot weather. As a child, hauling hay on days when eggs could be fried on the hood of the John Deere were common, and care was taken not to bump against the tin roof of the barn where the hay was stacked or there would be a third-degree reminder.
Fishing? The hotter the better.
We waded cool, gurgling Daddy’s Creek and caught smallmouth bass and red-eyes, and hauled big-bellied catfish from surrounding farm ponds. Put chicken innards in a Mason jar and sit it on the porch in the sizzling sun for a few days; it drives catfish wild.
But that was a lot of calendars ago.
Today I get woozy walking to the mailbox. Must be global aging.
Lebanon’s Jim Duckworth, a retired fishing guide, is the same way. Jim spent countless summers on the water without missing a cast. Now, he can’t take the heat.
We rate air conditioning among modern society’s greatest advancements, right up there with duct tape and open-faced spinning reels.
Another friend who used to guide almost died one blistering day on Old Hickory Lake when he passed out in the boat. His client – miraculously, a doctor – immediately recognized the symptoms of heat prostration.
He splashed water on the unconscious guide, covered him with his shirt, and sped to the marina. Paramedics afterwards said if he had been alone in the boat when he fainted, he’d have died beneath the broiling sun.
Like Jim and me, he doesn’t fish in the mid-day of summer anymore.
No one, no matter how physically fit and acclimated, is immune to heat stroke.
Once while on a government-paid vacation in Southeast Asia, my platoon was hacking its way through a steaming jungle, 100-degree heat pounding down on steel helmets, 70 pounds of gear gouging our backs. Suddenly a man collapsed and went into convulsions. The medic said his brain was boiling. A medivac chopper was called in. We never heard if he made it. Some heat-stroke victims didn’t.
I say all that to say this: be careful during the dog days of summer.
There’s no shade on a lake, and the movement of the boat can have a deceptive cooling effect. If you go, go early. Wear light clothing, a big-brimmed hat and keep hydrated. If you start to feel faint, come in.
If we’re smart enough to get in out of the rain, we ought to be smart enough to get in out of the heat.
The fish probably won’t bite anyway, and they’ll still be there when it cools off.
I’ve heard some fishermen say they’d die to catch a big bass. Hopefully that’s just a figure of speech.