Understanding water temps and their impact on fishing
As Michigan’s inland lakes warm up in mid to late summer, knowledge of a water body’s temperature stratification becomes helpful for fishing. Seasonal temperature influences in lakes form different zones, and as a result, different temperature ranges and oxygen levels are associated with these layers. Knowledge of these layers or zones can lead to increased angling success.
The warm surface zone is called the epilimnion and has an abundance of oxygen. The bottom zone is called the hypolimnion and is typically cold and depleted of oxygen. The middle zone is the thermocline and the point at which warm, oxygen-rich top water is separated from the cold, oxygen-depleted water below.
The thermocline may prove to be a great depth at which to fish due to the abundance of oxygen and temperature found “in between” very warm and very cold. This ideal zone in most Michigan inland lakes typically will be between 10 to 30 feet, depending on lake size and depth. Just like us humans, fish need oxygen to breath and many don’t particularly like to be too warm or too cold.
If fishing in shallow water bodies, look for shaded areas provided by large floating vegetation, overhanging vegetation, submerged logs, or other woody debris, which provides water that is a little cooler and cover, where many fish species prefer to spend their time.
Also don’t forget to try fishing at night during the summer “doldrums” when water temperatures reach seasonal highs. Many fish species become active at night with relief from the daytime sun and heat.
And lastly, take a kid fishing with you for luck, and to teach them about this wonderful sport!
This tip was written by Suzanne Ebright, Outreach and Education Specialist in Lansing.