Summertime is here and as the weather heats up so do the fishing opportunities. Venturing about in a paddle craft always requires a bit of attention on the surrounding environment and the hot days of summer require a bit extra planning to keep outings safe, comfortable and enjoyable for all.
When to fish will have a tremendous impact on your paddling and fishing comfort. Roasting on a wide skillet of hot water in the windless heat of a humid day is seldom an experience of great pleasure and once experienced, not often repeated. Optimize your fishing comfort by keeping your angling time to the cooler times of the day. Mornings, as the coolest part of the day, can provide many hours of fun before the waters surface warms, the sun rises high in the sky and the suns rays gather intensity. This leaves the blistering afternoon heat for other tasks in cooler environments like sipping tea in the shade. Evenings are a close second to morning fishing. There are plenty of gamefish that are active in the early evening and continue to provide fun throughout the night with particular species being most active and best hunted in the cool of night.
Probably the most important safety consideration for summer paddle fishing is hydration. Staying hydrated is critical not only to your comfort but also to your health. Heat related illnesses and dehydration are serious matters that summertime anglers should be aware of and strive too prevent. Heat stroke definitely will put the hurt on comfort and the brakes on a fine fishing day. Bring lots of water on your paddle fishing trips. Better to have too much and bring some home than to find oneself without and wanting. I always bring extra water in separate containers. If one leaks, I’ve got backup and if I come across someone in need, there is plenty to share.
Another critical factor to stay safe and comfortable while paddle fishing in Florida’s heat is dressing for the day. There is little chance for shade while paddling across the water so Lightweight clothes that breath while offering sun protection are a must to keep cool, comfortable and prevent sunburn. High tech long sleeve shirts and pants have become more available, affordable and much more stylish. Hats protect the head and help with glare while a good set of shades will protect the eyes from the harmful rays of the sun and stray lures as well as helping to spot fish. And don’t forget the waterproof sunblock for any spots you haven’t covered and be sure to reapply occasionally throughput the day. The reflected rays of the sun will find any spot you miss so don’t be skimpy or you will have some explaining to do when you get back to work with strange leopard spots and tiger stripes.
The great challenge to comfort in the Florida summer is not limited to heat. A contender to ruining your angling day are insects which come out in force during the hot humid days we love to fish. Florida is known for it’s swarms of biting, chewing and stinging insects. And, if that weren’t enough, we’ve got them that fly too. Some of our best fisheries are even named after various species of misery including Cockroach Bay and Mosquito Lagoon. Keeping your skin covered offers some protection but make for certain insect repellant is in your kit or comfort may be but a dream . The long sleeved shirts, hats, pants, gloves and face coverings anglers use to protect from the vicious sun can provide considerable protection from bites, sucks and stinging things.
So remember a few simple rules to keep cool, hydrated and protect for fun and safe days of summertime fishing. Keep extra water, sunblock and insect repellent with your gear. Keep covered for protection from the sun and bugs. And as always, timing is everything.