August fishing requires early rising, thermocline knowledge

Published 8:43 am Thursday, August 4, 2011

Summer fishing is not for the faint of heart. But if you feel you can’t wait till fall to make some casts you can still catch fish if you think cool, happy thoughts.
The water in most lakes is 85-plus degrees at 6 a.m., which is not something the fish enjoy. In fact, many local fish have trouble surviving very long in temps that high. The combination of high temps and lower dissolved oxygen levels is very stressful on fish.

Jigging spoons and drop shot baits for summer fishing. (photo submitted)

Although you may see schools of fish early in the morning feeding on top, this will not last long since the fish need to find cooler water along with enough oxygen to spend most of the day. With this in mind, you need to fish accordingly.
Fishing shallow very early or late in the day is a good way to catch fish, and to catch bigger fish. After they fill themselves beyond full, though, most fish turn very inactive, suspending at the right depth to get the coolest water and most oxygen available. This is usually found at or near a thermocline. To catch fish between dawn and dusk, you need to find the thermocline.
A sensitive depth finder is a big plus – they can show a strong thermocline on your graph – but you can also find indicators on a less sensitive graph such as where the bait is located, and the depth of most fish you mark on your graph.
As a general rule, Lake Lure and Lake Adger have a summer thermocline about 30 feet. If you do not have a graph, this is a good starting point for the depth you need to be fishing.
Is the thermocline really that big of a deal? The answer is yes.
If you have ever gone scuba diving or even swimming you can notice pockets of much cooler water. In scuba diving, you notice what feels like drastic temperature changes as you descend – sometimes in 3-5 foot intervals. It is amazing to me how much cooler the water can be just 15 feet down. In turn, as you ascend the much warmer temps are very noticeable.
Some of the best ways to fish thermoclines are to fish drop shot baits, jigging spoons and shakey heads. Trying to keep your bait in front of the fish for as long as possible. That doesn’t always mean fishing slow though. Fishing baits with a constant movement interrupted by abrupt erratic motions can trigger an inactive fish into biting, and hopefully the entire school of fish, if present, will start to feed.
To find some of the most active fish, find where the thermocline intersects the bottom depth. The open range fish in suspended water can be more numerous but harder to trigger a bite from.
Strangely enough, a full moon can cause fish to feed in the middle of the day. If I had to fish in the hot of the day, I would prefer fishing on a full moon.
In summary, get out of the bed and catch those early biters, early birds can catch more than worms.
Rob McComas is a licensed North Carolina fishing guide on Lake Lure  and Lake Jocassee in S.C.  He has been a guide for 11 years and fishing for more than 30. McComas lives with his wife, Amanda, in Sunny View and runs Robs Guide Service. He can be reached at

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