Anglers can prevent overheating by following a few simple rules

Friday, July 11, 2003

The spring-like weather in May and June has given way to the sweltering heat of July, so if you're going to spend a day fishing or boating on the lake, one of your biggest concerns should be overheating.

By following a few simple rules, you can eliminate the possibility of an unexpected trip to the hospital for heat exhaustion.

Ed Higdon of the Missouri Department of Conservation said one of the simplest ways is to get enough water.

"Water is imperative," Higdon said. "Most people think that they are going to be near water, so they don't even think about it. They need to keep themselves aquafied well."

Another easy thing to do is find the shade, Higdon said.

"If you have shade present, utilize the shade," Higdon said. "You don't have to sit right on the shoreline with the rod and reel in your hand. You can be in the shade and let the shade protect you from the real severe heat."

That is what St. Joseph resident Curtis Keyes was doing last week at a local boat dock.

"When it is hot like this I try and find the shade. It just makes it more comfortable," Keyes said.

Light articles of clothing and hats are other things fishermen can wear to keep from overheating.

When the temperature is in the 90s, Keyes said he has to change his approach.

"I do more bottom fishing," Keyes said. "Other people have different approaches or use a different presentation, but I like fishing this way the best."

It must have worked pretty well, because Keyes went home with a three- to four-pound flathead catfish he caught off the shoreline.

Bottom fishing works well, because when the temperatures are hot, the fish stay lower in the water to stay cool.

"Real hot water drives them deeper because the water stratifies," Higdon said. "They're not going to bottom out. They like to be suspended, and at least some of the species like to be suspended. We do have some that will bottom out."

Other fishing tips Higdon provided: Choose different bobber lengths on your line and use common sense.

"Also, try fishing near brush or cover," Higdon said. "You don't have to throw your bait in it, just close enough to it. That will bring the fish out to get the bait."

While some may find it more convenient to fish in the middle of the day, Higdon and Keyes agreed that morning or night would be a better choice. It will help you stay cooler, and it could help you catch more fish.

"If you look at it from the standpoint of success, the water is going to be a little cooler in the morning," Higdon said. "If you go during the heat of the day, you can catch fish, but they aren't as active as when the sun is coming up or going down."

Beer is a common drink for fishermen, but Higdon advises against drinking too many.

"Alcoholic beverages are not aquafiers like water, Gatorade or Powerade," Higdon said. "It takes water from your system and is actually a dehydrator, where water and many of these other things actually hydrate your system."

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