Do Fish Get Sunburned

Do Fish Get Sunburned

Look for Shade in the Summer

Many years ago, I read an article about fish getting sunburned. This week, I went to YouTube to find more. I have had good luck playing fronts and the barometer. On Monday, my son Greg and I looked at the weather forecast. At about 6 p.m., a small low-pressure system was moving through. A light rain was all we got, but it was enough to generate feeding activity among the bass population in a small lake near home. It had been a cloudless day until then. In the summer months, the ultraviolet rays from the sun are very strong. Just like light-skinned humans, fish can get sunburned, but effects are different. Fish have pigmentation in their skin or scales to protect them somewhat. On these bright sunny days, the fish go deeper or find shade under docks, weeds, root wads, or downed trees. They will not move from the shade to hit a lure.

Let me share my personal experience. Many years ago, I fished at Big Cannon Lake in Canada. Faced with a high-pressure system and no clouds, I had to rely on my instincts. My rental boat had a white anchor. I dropped it until it could no longer be seen, about 12 feet. I had a hunch that the smallmouth bass would be about two feet deeper. And I was right. It’s these little victories that make fishing so rewarding. After catching a few fish, the action stopped. I dropped a jig directly under my boat and began catching fish. A school of smallies had followed the hooked fish to the boat and then stayed in the shade my boat provided.

Understanding the role of weather in fishing can be a game-changer. On high-sky days, being on the water at first light can significantly increase your chances of success. Fish often feed in the shallows until the sun hits the water. However, in the case of main lake points, fish abandon the shallows when the sun’s rays hit the water, so it’s important to adjust your strategy accordingly. Is the bite over when these ultraviolet rays penetrate the water? When I fished tournaments years ago, I wished for cold fronts and cloudless skies. On cloudy days, I did not compete well with the run-and-gun competitors. I used a four-inch worm and relied on Polaroid glasses to see cuts in weed beds. I would pitch my offering underhanded on a semi-slack line. The bass would be facing out in these cuts. I was sliding it down their noses. They would inhale this little tidbit without moving.

Boat docks offer shade for fish and will pay off if you can get your lure in there. I learned to dock shoot from Crappie Pro James Lasswell. When crappie or bass fishing, you can use about a seven-foot rod. Let the line down about halfway, then grab your jig or worm between your thumb and forefinger. Pull in back like you were drawing a bow and let go. Your bait will shoot back into the shade of docks or pontoon boats. There are many good dock-shooting videos on YouTube.

Boat Dock Bluegills

About Rick Bramwell 38 Articles
Grew up in rural Indiana fishing farm ponds and hunting woodlands. Bramwell has been writing outdoors for 48 years. He harvested the record typical whitetail for his county and hunts rabbits with his beagle Tramp. He fished bass tournaments, including Red Man, until 1989. Bramwell has put together an ultra-ultra light system for catching panfish that mostly involves tight-lining a small jig. He attended college at Indiana State and Anderson University. Bramwell has two sons in their 50s, Brian and Gregory. A daughter Jourdan age 27. His greatest memory: fishing trout, salmon and halibut in Alaska. Bramwell's passion, apart from the outdoors, has been coaching high school age fastpitch softball.

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