Handling the heat in Alabama

Lee Livesay

I can’t say for sure how the Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Wheeler Lake is going to turn out, but I’m sure it will be one of the year’s hottest tournaments. Living in Texas, fishing in the heat is nothing new to me, but I don’t take it lightly.

You have to prepare your body a little more for the really hot events, and the biggest part of that is drinking lots of water before the event. And when I say before, I mean well before the event. You can’t start the morning of practice; you have to start increasing your water intake several days before you get to the tournament.

Your body will also make you want to eat healthier. You’re burning a lot of calories and fluids, so you have to make sure you’re keeping yourself well-nourished and hydrated. During tournament days, I usually pack a turkey sandwich, beef jerky and something with some salt like peanuts.

There’s no doubt, summertime puts us through physically demanding days, but this can be some of the best fishing in the South. Heat warms the water, it raises the bass’ metabolism and it moves the thermocline up.

Heat also pushes bait up and down in the water. It puts them closer to hard spots, current breaks and other obvious places. Basically, it moves fish and bait constantly and creates opportunities for anglers.

Balancing these opportunities, summertime can make it challenging to stay on top of the fish, mostly because it pushes them into fewer spots. Whereas in the springtime, you can have a major creek arm where 10 to 15 boats can go in and fish multiple banks and areas, summertime will take all the fish in that creek and put them on two little hard spots.

I think this will make Wheeler Lake fish really small offshore. The fish are probably going to be grouped up in some key areas, and those areas probably won’t be very big.

Obviously, a tournament like this makes you look for some little bitty spots. There will be community spots where there will be four or five boats fishing and one or two boats are going to catch ‘em. But then there will be some spots you have to look for where you’ll only catch one or two fish.

The more spots you have in your bank where you can get one bite the better. Whether it’s a 2-pounder or a 10-pounder, you just never know what’s going to show up.

Looking for little bitty spots just to get a bite, rather than one big mega school is going to be key, because if you get a bad boat number, or a bad rotation, you’re not going to get in on those big schools.

All this being said, this will be my first time fishing on Wheeler Lake, so I’ll keep an open mind. Everybody thinks of me as a shallow-water power fisherman, and I am, but I cut my teeth on offshore fishing. So I’m looking forward to seeing what this lake has to offer.

Going into this tournament with no preconceived ideas of where fish should be will allow me to just go through my rotations and look for those little bitty spots. Hopefully, a few of them will be holding big fish.