Many have found the heat hard to deal with. The high heat, high humidity and lack of anything that would even remotely be called a breeze made doing anything outdoors hard to think about. Even before sunrise, when it seems it ought to be cooler on the lake, the lake temperature has been 80 degrees with no relief to be found. A fisherman can last perhaps an hour on the water before having to come in and find some shade.

The lake temperature being 80 degrees this early in the year is not a good sign for the fish. Lake Michigan water rarely reaches 80 degree, and this time of year it is usually closer to 70. The fish get very, very stressed out when the water gets this warm. The amount of evaporation that occurs out of the lake increases, which reduces oxygen-rich water. More algae blooms are to be found on the water, further decreasing the available oxygen. On Lake Michigan that means that many of the fish are heading to deeper, cooler, more oxygen-rich water.

On small bodies of water, smaller rivers and back waters on the big rivers, these issues are magnified to the point that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has issued a summer “kill off” advisory. These smaller bodies of water have less water and less oxygen to start with, so numbers of fish suddenly floating on the surface of these waters will be no surprise. As bad as it may appear, it is a normal process and usually not caused by poisons or other unnatural causes. Evanston is fortunate with Lovelace Park to have a great oxygen-generating fountain in the middle of the pond that should limit the chances of that kind of event.

As the summer progresses and this heat breaks, the fish will look for the cooler water in shade-protected areas to hide from the sun. Fishermen should also remember to wear a hat and a good sunscreen going out fishing this summer.

Until next time … keep a tight line.

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