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Medical Aspects of Camping and Other Tips You Need to Know About

As the weather begins to warm up, it is time to think about outdoor activities we can pursue not only for pleasure but to hone and practice our outdoor survival skills.  Speaking for myself, camping is high on my list of summer activities, including a first-time adventure using a tent.

Most of us plan to hunker down and shelter in place in the event of a disruptive event. That said, if our homes are no longer safe, either due to location or to physical destruction, we must have a plan to evacuate.  In some cases, the answer will be short term camping.

Dr. Joe Alton is here to today to weigh in on what we need to know about the medical aspect of camping plus some other tips to make the overall experience both pleasurable and educational.

Medical Aspects of Camping | Backdoor Survival

Safe Camping Tips for Preppers

School will be out soon and a great way to teach your family survival basics is by taking them camping. The skills needed for successful camping are akin to those required for the activities of daily survival. Once learned, these lessons last a lifetime. There’s no greater gift that you can give young people than the ability to be self-reliant.

Camping trips create bonds and memories that will last a lifetime.  A poorly planned campout, however, can become memorable in a way you don’t want, especially if someone gets injured. Luckily, a few preparations and an evaluation of your party’s limitations will help you enjoy a terrific outing with the people you care about, and maybe impart some skills that would serve them well in dark times.

Start Small

If you haven’t been camping much, don’t start by attempting to hike the Donner Trail. Begin by taking day trips to National Parks or a nearby lake.   Set up your tent and campfire, and see how it goes when you don’t have to stay in the woods overnight.  Once you have that under your belt, start planning your overnight outings.

Whatever type of camping you do, always assess the capabilities and general health of the people in your party. Children and elderly family members will determine the limits of your activities. The more ambitious you are, the more likely the kids and oldsters won’t be able to handle it.  Disappointment and injuries are the end result.

Important Considerations

An important first step to a safe camping trip is knowledge about the weather and terrain you’ll be encountering. Talk with park rangers, consult guidebooks, and check out online sources. Some specific issues you’ll want to know about:

· Temperature Ranges
· Rain or Snowfall
· Trails and Campsite Facilities
· Plant, Insect, or Animal Issues
· Availability of Clean Water
· How to Get Help in an Emergency

Medical Aspects of Camping

A very common error campers (and survivalists) make is not bringing the right clothing and equipment for the weather and terrain. If you haven’t planned for the environment you’ll be camping in, you have made it your enemy, and believe me, it’s a formidable one.

Although Spring and Fall have the most uncertainty with regards to temperatures and weather, you could encounter storms in any season. Always take enough clothing to allow layering to deal with the unpredictability of the season.

Conditions in high elevations lead to wind chill factors that could cause hypothermia. If the temperature is 50 degrees, but the windchill factor is 30 degrees, you lose heat from your body as if it were below freezing. Be aware that temperatures at night may be surprisingly cold.

In cold weather, you’ll want your family clothed in tightly woven, water-repellent material for protection against the wind. Wool holds body heat better than cotton does. Some synthetic materials work well, also, such as Gore-Tex. Add or remove layers as needed.

If you’re at the seashore or lakefront in summer, your main problem will be heat exhaustion and burns. Have your family members wear sunscreen, as well as hats and light cotton fabrics. Plan your strenuous activities for mornings, when it’s cooler. In any type of weather, keep everyone well-hydrated.  Dehydration causes more rapid deterioration in physical condition in any type of stressful circumstance. Allow a pint of fluids an hour for strenuous activities.

The most important item of clothing is, perhaps, your shoes. If you’ve got the wrong shoes for the outing, you will most likely regret it. If you’re in the woods, high tops that you can fit your pant legs into are most appropriate. If you go with a lighter shoe in hot weather, Vibram soles are your best bet.

Special Tips: Choosing the right clothing isn’t just for weather protection.  If you have the kids wear bright colors, you’ll have an easier time keeping track of their whereabouts. Long sleeves and pants offer added protection against insect bites that can transmit disease, such as Lyme disease caused by ticks.

Location, Location, Location

A real estate agent’s motto is “location, location, location” and it’s also true when it comes to camping.   Scout prospective campsites by looking for broken glass and other garbage that can pose a hazard.  Sadly, you can’t depend on other campers to pick up after themselves.

Look for evidence of animals/insects nearby, such as large droppings or wasp nests/bee hives.    Advise the children to stay away from any animals, even the cute little fuzzy ones. If there are berry bushes nearby, you can bet it’s on the menu for bears. Despite this, things that birds and animals can eat aren’t always safe for humans.

Learn to identify the plants in your environment that should be avoided. This especially includes poison ivy, oak, and sumac.  Show your kids pictures of the plants so that they can steer clear of them. The old adage is “leaves of three, let it be”. Fels-Naptha soap is especially effective in removing toxic resin from skin and clothes if you suspect exposure.

Build your fire in established fire pits and away from dry brush. In drought conditions, consider using a portable stove instead.  Children are fascinated by fires, so watch them closely or you’ll be dealing with burn injuries. Food (especially cooked food) should be hung in trees in such a way that animals can’t access it. Animals are drawn to food odors, so use resealable plastic containers.

If you camp near a water source, realize that even the clearest mountain stream may harbor parasites that cause diarrheal disease and dehydration.  Water sterilization is basic to any outdoor outing.  There are iodine tablets that serve this purpose, and portable filters like the “Lifestraw™” which are light and effective.  Although time-consuming, boiling local water is a good idea to avoid trouble.

Get Your Bearings

Few people can look back to their childhood and not remember a time when they lost their bearings. Your kids should always be aware of landmarks near the camp or on trails.  A great skill to teach the youngsters is how to use a compass; make sure they have one on them at all times.

A great item to give each child (and adult) is a loud whistle that they can blow if you get separated.  Three blasts are the universal signal for “help!” If lost, kids should stay put in a secure spot.  Of course, if you have cell phone service where you are, consider that option as well.

Bug Bites

Even kids in protective clothing can still wind up with insect bites.  Important supplies to carry are antihistamines like Benadryl, sting relief pads, and calamine lotion to deal with allergic reactions.  Asking your doctor for a prescription “Epi-Pen” is a good idea, as they’re meant to be used by the average person. They’re effective for severe reactions to toxins from insect bites or poison ivy.

Citronella-based products are helpful to repel insects; put it on clothing instead of skin (absorbs too easily) whenever possible. Repellents containing DEET also can be used, but not on children less than 2 years old.

Don’t forget to inspect daily for ticks or the bulls-eye pattern rash you might see in Lyme disease. I mean it when I say daily: If you remove the tick in the first 24 hours, you will rarely contract the disease.

Of course, you’ll need a medical kit as part of your supplies. Consider some of the items in our compact, lightweight personal IFAK kit, specifically meant to deal with mishaps on the trail. You might have your own favorite items to bring with you; if so, feel free to post them in the comments section below.

The Final Word

Now that I live adjacent to the forest, I want to get a tent.  The plan is to get something easy to set up because, after all, I am not a young as I used to be and want to save my energy for things like hiking and doing a bit of wood chopping.  Then, as Joe suggests, I plan to camp in my own one-acre backyard before venturing further.

One thing is certain, it is a lot more fun to practice survival skills when you couple the experience with a family adventure!


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Severe Weather RV Safety Tips


Severe weather RV safety tips

Weather (and severe weather) is a part of life. When we lived in a regular ole house I paid little attention to the weather – being near Seattle, Washington it was almost always rain of some kind in the fall/winter and moderate temps in the spring/summer. It was nearly always manageable and all we really needed was a lot of layers and a decent rain jacket and umbrella.

Being on the road weather is a different story. Knowing the local weather is part of our daily routine – because severe weather could have severe impacts when you live in a house on wheels. We planned our route around the country primarily because of weather – the northern areas in the summer, the east coast in the fall and Florida/South in the winter. So far, this plan has worked in our favor and we’ve experience very little inclement weather.


We did change our plans last October to avoid Hurricane Joaquin which was slated to hit the east coast. Instead of being in New Jersey like we had originally planned, we headed inland to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to avoid the storm. We ended up with only a rainy weekend – and enjoyed an awesome tour of Gettysburg. And South Dakota last summer was frustrating because the tornado and hail alerts seemed like a daily occurrence – but we avoided them by racing across the state and setting up camp in Minnesota.

Lately central Florida (thanks to El Nino) has been throwing us some strange and unpredictable weather – like tornados. For example, last week while we were in the Fort Myers area we knew severe thunderstorms were expected to hit Saturday night. We would have probably rerouted to be farther north for the storm, but we had a repair appointment in the area all day Saturday. We couldn’t reschedule the repair appointment – we needed our water pump replaced – and RV repair appointments are tough to find in Florida in January.

We left our repair appointment in Fort Myers around 3 p.m. and started heading north to our reserved campsite, which turned out to be a disaster. It’s a long story – but the private campground where we planned to stay at was crowded, flooded, muddy and was too small for our trailer. It wouldn’t have worked – not even a little. So we scrambled to find another spot and thankfully ended up finding an opening at Sun-n-Fun RV resort up near Sarasota. More expensive than we usually pay for a spot, it was a gravel spot (no mud or flooding potential) and I knew it was a well populated park with lots of services and buildings. We ended up setting up camp in the dark (something we never do) and spent the night playing in the heated pool and relaxing in the family hot tub knowing the rain/storm would start around 2 a.m.


I went to bed earlier than usual because I was expecting the storm. At around 1 a.m. I was woken up by aTornado Watch alert on my phone. A tornado watch means there is a strong probability of a tornado but one hasn’t formed yet – I stayed up and monitored the storm after that. Around 2:40 a.m. the wind had picked up and I pulled the kids into bed with me.


At 3:06 a.m. the Tornado Warning went off – this means a tornado is developing and you need to take cover immediately. Trailers and mobile homes are NOT a safe shelter option. We pulled on sweatshirts, slipped on shoes and were out the door within a couple minutes. We ran to the nearby cement foundation bathhouse and took shelter in an interior wall of the building – on the floor of a men’s shower stall. We were joined in the bathhouse by dozens of other people from the park.

We would spent the next couple hours hanging out in the shower stall in the bathhouse. Tracking alerts on our phone and waiting. We had our hotspot with us – so the kids watched Netflix, which was a great distraction as they were understandably shaken by the experience.


Two tornados touched down that night in Sarasota County, Florida. One just about 13 miles away (see map above, the Ts mark the tornados, black arrow is us). We were lucky to avoid any damage but others were not so lucky – many houses, condos and mobile homes were destroyed in the area. Coming from the Northwest this was our first tornado warning and I’m hoping our last.

So what can we do to protect ourselves against severe weather while traveling full time? Here are a few suggestions for products or supplies that can help keep you safe. . .


Download a few weather apps on your smart phone. I have six weather apps on my phone. I use them all for different things. At the bare minimum, I recommend the NOAA radio app – it’s $3.99 and worth every penny. Get real-time updates straight from the National Weather Service – and it has the ability to notify you of warnings even if your device is asleep and locked. I think having more than one weather app is wise – I’d rather receive multiple alerts than be counting on only ONE app for alerts and find that it didn’t work, right?  I also have the Weather Underground and NOAA Weather Alerts apps, plus a couple radar apps and the Weather Channel app. Depending on your needs, you can download a weather app bundle that will save you a few bucks (like this Severe Weather bundle). The NOAA Weather Alerts  is probably my favorite – it’s super easy to navigate, shows a list of alerts AND a map of alerts – and shows you where you are, so you can clearly see where you are in the boundary. It also seems to be super quick in sending alerts.

Downloading the apps is NOT enough – make sure you tweak the settings to use your current location and to set up AUDIBLE alerts in the case of an emergency. 


Have a NOAA radio in your RV. How would you get weather warnings if your smart phone or computer wasn’t working or you’re in an area with no internet/cell service? A NOAA radio can be set to turn on and audibly notify you if there is a severe warning in your area. Something like this American Red Cross FRX3 Hand Crank NOAA AM/FM Weather Alert Radio with Smartphone Charger


Cell phone charger. How long will your phone battery life last if you’re constantly monitoring storm coverage? I know mine wouldn’t last long enough so we have the AmazonBasics Portable Power Bank – 16,100 mAh. It charges my phone quickly and it fits easily in my back pocket or purse. It can charge other small devices as well. I also ordered the lightning cable for it.

Headlamps or flashlights. We always keep a headlamp hanging right by the front door. If we needed to run outside in a hurry, in the dark, it’s immediately accessible. We also have an emergency drawer in the living area that has a collection of other headlamps and flashlights (it’s also where we store our NOAA radio and batteries). A camping lantern is a great choice as well. We have two camping lanterns and they come in handy when you want to hang out with friends after dark without a campfire.


Batteries. Stock up. We usually buy them at Costco but Amazon has had some impressive prices on their AmazonBasics AAA Performance Alkaline Batteries (20-Pack) lately – you want enough batteries for your NOAA radio, flashlights and headlamps

Emergency backpack. What would you need for safety if you suddenly had to leave your RV or trailer? Fill a durable backpack with water, high-protein snacks, warm clothes, flashlight/headlamp, cell phone chargers, small toys to distract/entertain young children, emergency contact information, insurance information, ID/passport, credit card and/or cash, essential medications, small blanket, NOAA radio, etc.

Emergency food/water supply. We keep two large containers of water (like this Coleman Water Carrier (5-Gallon, Blue) in the back of our truck (changing out water often to keep it fresh) and we have a Mountain House, Just In Case… Classic Bucket in the back of our truck. Both would be necessary if we were stranded in our truck somewhere.


In addition to those products and apps, here are a few more things to consider. . .

1.) Keep an eye on the forecast. Often severe weather conditions can be predicted at least a few days in advance. Consider re-routing or moving to avoid severe storms. Bookmark and check it daily – you can see a 10-forecast that I find is often pretty reliable.

2.) Your safety is your responsibility. In the case of an emergency or severe weather your safety is YOUR responsibility. Don’t rely on your campground to notify you, don’t expect neighbors to knock on your door – it’s your job to be alert and aware of severe weather. Don’t be shy to ask for emergency routes or shelter options when you check-in (it’s recommended!) and don’t be shy to hang out in the men’s shower stall – even if no one else has evacuated yet. We were the first people to take shelter at our campground – I second guessed myself because this was my first tornado warning – but we stayed put and were soon joined by the rest of the RVers in our loop. It’s better to be overly cautious than to wait and see – you might find you’re too late.

3.) Know your nearest shelter or evacuation route. Make it a point to know where the nearest shelter is – make sure your kids know, too. You can ask this information when you check in to an RV park. Most state parks have cement bath houses.

4.) Have your RV park address and site number easily accessible. Write the RV park name, address, site location and front desk info on a dry erase board or piece of paper somewhere easily accessible in the living space of your RV. If you need to dial 9-1-1 you’ll need that information to get emergency personnel to you as soon as possible. We often leave the campground map out for easy access.

5.) Know what COUNTY you are in. Weather alerts are often issued by county. You should know which county you are currently located in and it doesn’t hurt to know the names of surrounding counties either.

6.) Prepare the outside of your RV or campsite. Reduce the risk of damage by putting away things that can blow around. Retract awnings, retract slides (if applicable), put away chairs or camp kitchens – you don’t want these things slamming into the outside of your RV.

7.) Don’t try and outrun a surprise storm. If you’ve waited too long and/or get caught by a surprise storm – don’t panic and try to hitch up and run. We were foolish early in our journey and did this in South Dakota after getting alerts about a possible hail storm (1 inch hail) headed our way. We hitched up in the dark, in heavy rain and headed out to find shelter under a nearby carwash. Turns out we wouldn’t easily fit in the car wash bay (a few classic cars had beat us to the spots anyway), the hail didn’t end up crossing our path, and we were put ourselves at risk by hitching up in a hurry and rushing to seek shelter. In hindsight it was a stupid choice that was rooted in panic –  we won’t do that again. Next time we’ll stay put, seek another shelter if needed, leave the trailer and take the truck, and/or deal with the damage if it happens.

8.) Make sure your insurance is adequate. If your RV is your full-time home do you have adequate insurance to replace it in the event of an emergency? Talk to your insurance agent and make sure you have a full-time policy and that it is sufficient enough to cover your needs. Some policies even include hotel/living expenses if you’re unable to live in your RV due to repairs or replacement. Full-time RV insurance policies don’t always give you the same protection that a homeowners policy does (providing liability insurance while you’re out away from your trailer, for example), so an umbrella policy might be a good idea. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure you’re adequately covered.

9.) You can replace your RV but you can’t replace a life. At the end of the day there are no possessions in your RV that are more important than your life. Seek shelter if needed and worry about property loss later (see #8).

10.) Stay calm. Don’t panic. Have a plan in place and follow through with it calmly. Panic is not your friend.

I’m not a certified weather woman, I’m also not an expert on emergency preparedness – I’m just relaying some of the ways that we work to stay safe on the road. Please practice due diligence and research what emergency tools or apps will best serve your family – remember that your safety is your responsibility.

At the end of the day preparation and planning are your best weapons against any emergency – especially severe weather. We can’t predict all the emergencies we might encounter but we shouldn’t let that keep us from enjoying life on the road. Safe travels to you. . . .

What tips do you have for being safe while traveling in an RV? Please leave a comment and share your favorite severe weather RV tips!


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How to Weather Forecast And Weather Predict Without Technology

We have no control on the weather yet it is a part of our lives which influence what we do, what we eat, what we wear and many times where we live.  How did people predict the weather before there was the Internet, television, radio or the weatherperson with all of their gadgets?

Modern Tools for Weather Forecasting

  • Doppler radar and high altitude balloons.  The Doppler radar produces velocity data about objects at a distance with the help of the Doppler effect.
  • Weather balloons send back measurements of atmospheric pressures, wind speeds, temperatures, and humidity. Balloons send back data via a device called a radiosonde which collects information on its upward journey and transmits it back as the device comes back from its high altitudes.
  • Barometers measure air pressure.
  • Anemometers measure air pressure but have no mercury.  They also measure wind speed.
  • The Beaufort scale is also used to measure the wind speed.  Each picture represents one level of the scale.
  • Psychrometers measure relative humidity.  This instrument uses two thermometers.  One bulb is covered with a wet cloth.  A cooling effect of evaporation lower the temperature on the bulb as the cloth slowly dries.  The two thermometer temperatures are compared to a chart to get the relative humidity.
  • Thermometers measures the air temperature. In the United States, temperature is measured using two scales.  These are the fahrenheit and celsius scales.  Both of these are based on the state of the water at sea level.
  • Rain gauges measure the amount of liquid precipitation.  This is a fancy rain gauge used by professionals but any open container with a flat bottom can measure precipitation by adding an inch scale.

Predicting The Weather Before All Of The Modern Technology

Before our world had so many gadgets to predict the weather, people had to depend on observations and folklore to predict the weather.


A.  Coffee

  • You can predict the weather by observing a cup of coffee.  When you pour a cup of coffee watch which way the bubbles on the top go.  A good sign is when the bubbles quickly move to rim of the cup.  That means high pressure and good weather for the next 12 hours.  When the bubbles stay in the middle of the cup, you know the pressure is low and the weather is unsettled.  This illustrates air pressure just as a barometer or anemometer do.B.   Insects
  •  When bees stay in or hover around their hives it means it is going to rain sometime that day.  So if you see no bees in your flower beds you can probably count on rain.  Air pressure again is the cause of bees not venturing out too far from their hives.
  • Ants also stay near the opening of their ant hill if a rain storm is coming.  Sometimes ants will even cover up the hole on their mound.  They will also build the sides of their ant hills very steep right before the rain.  All of these occur due to the air pressure.
  • Some insects have a tendency to be mean when rain is approaching.  Wasps have a tendency of stinging and fleas will bite fiercely.  Watch your arms for flea bites and don’t let the wasp get you as they really hurt.
  • Spiders make their webs  stronger when a storm is expected, and rain is predicted.  The webs usually have more cross sections that reinforce the web.
  • Crickets are known as a poor man’s thermometer.  They can tell the temperature.  If you add the chirps a cricket makes in a 14 second time period and add the number to 40 you should come up with the temperature with one degree Fahrenheit.  Imagine using crickets as your thermometer.
  • C.  Cows
  • Looking in the field at a heard of cows, you know if they spread out it is going to be a nice day.
  • If the cattle are all clustered together, a storm is brewing.  The tighter the cluster the worse the weather will be.
  • Cowboys and cattle can’t talk but cattle can relay a message that it is going to rain and the cowboy understands by observing the actions of the cows.  For example, if a cow is restless in its stall, it usually is a sign of rain as cows are usually calm in the barn.
  • Another way a cow predicts rain to a cowboy is by not giving milk.
  • In the pasture cows rarely lie down but if they do, this is another prediction of precipitation.
  • D.  Birds
  • When rain is coming, birds have a tendency to fly low because the air pressure starts falling due to an oncoming storm and the lower air pressure hurts their ears.
  • It is also a sign of the air pressure falling when you see a bunch of birds sitting on the telephone or power lines.
  • Rain in coming when you observe the sparrows chirping and all of a sudden you don’t hear any birds.
  • Seagulls stop swarming and stay on the beach when a storm is coming.
  • E.  Cats
  • You will often see cats clean behind their ears before it rains.
  • Most animals sense the air pressure changing and will have a sixth sense when it come to predicting stormy weather.
  • F.  Moon
  • Light shining through cirrostratus clouds associated with moisture and warm fronts cause a ring around the moon.  The ring around the moon usually means rain or snow.
  • G.  Wind
  • By observing which direction the wind is blowing, throw a piece of grass into the air and watch its descent.  This will give you the wind’s direction.  Westerly winds indicate no storm fronts are near. Easterly winds can indicate a storm front is approaching.
  • H. Leaves
  • The leaves of deciduous trees turn upside down during unusual winds.  The leaves grow in a way that keeps them right side up during regular prevalent winds.
  • The leaves on trees will curl when the humidity changes.  Imagine observing tree leaves for humidity rather than measuring it with a psychrometer.
  • G.  Clouds
  • Clouds which look like puffs appearing in long rows.  These clouds are called cirrocumulus clouds. These are considered high clouds which have an elevation of over 20,000 feet.  When much of the sky is covered with these clouds the sky is called a “mackerel sky” because it looks like a lot of fish scales.
  • Altocumulus clouds are in the middle cloud group.  The elevation of these clouds is 10,000 to 20,000 feet.  These clouds form when rising currents within the cloud extend to the unstable air above.  Rain can be predicted within 36 hours.
  • Towering clouds, know as cumulonimbus clouds usually mean thunderstorms in the afternoon. These clouds usually have thunder, lightning and heavy rain.  These towering clouds can go up to 60.000 feet.
  • Cirrus clouds which are the highest clouds look like a lot wispy feathers in the sky.  Usually these clouds indicate pleasant to fair weather when they move from west to east.  A high number of these clouds can be a sign of an approaching frontal system.  They are usually over 20,000 feet and are where the atmosphere is very cold.
  • Light and moderate participation is associated with nimbostratus clouds.  These clouds cover the whole sky and are dark and low hanging. These are considered low clouds, under 10.000 feet and lengthy precipitation can be expected within a few hours.
  • Cumulus clouds look like cotton balls in the sky.  Usually these clouds are not a prediction of rain as there is a lot of clear sky in between them.  In the spring and summer these clouds can change into thunderhead clouds (cumulonimbus clouds).
  • H.  Air
  • If the air smells like compost, there must be a low pressure and plants are releasing their waste. Rain is on the way.
  • Another smell in the air during low pressure and a sign a storm is on the way is that of the gasses from the swamps.

Step 2 Folklore

Even though folklore weather seems way out there, farmers and sailers still use it today.

A.  Proverbs

  • “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight”.  Red sky at night usually means high pressure and stable air is approaching from the west.  Usually good weather will follow.
  • “Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning”.  If the sunrise is red, it usually indicates a storm system is moving to the east.  Rain is on its way if the morning sky is deep fiery red.
  • “Rainbow in the morning gives you fair warning”.  This usually indicates we are probably going to get the shower in the west.
  • “If March come in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb”.  March is such an unpredictable month for weather.  We can only hope that if it is cold and snowy the beginning of March, it will be springlike and warm at the end of March.
  • “Cool is the night…when the stars shine bright”.  The temperature seems to drop when there is less moisture in the air at night.  A clear night sky allows the stars to shine bright.  The brighter the stars the cooler the night.
  • “Clear moon, frost soon”.  If the night sky is clear enough to see the moon and the temperature drops a-lot, frost will form.
  • “Mare’s tails and mackerel scales make tall ships take in their sails”.  This saying means that high winds could be coming and therefore the sails of the ships should come down.
  • “When the stars begin to huddle, the earth will soon become a puddle”.  Many stars are hidden by approaching clouds at night.  The clouds that are not hidden by the clouds look like they are huddled together.  This doesn’t always lead to rain but if clouds start increasing then there is the chance of rain.
  • “When the wind is blowing in the North, no fisherman should set forth.  When the wind is blowing in the East, ’tis not fit for man or beast.  When the wind is blowing in the South, it brings the food over the fish’s mouth.  When the wind is blowing in the West, that is when the fishing is best”. This is when all of the door signs that say “GONE FISHING” come out.
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Tips for Hot Weather Fishing Success


The fishing can be as hot as the weather if you know what to do and where to fish.

Hot Night Fishing:

Night fishing is a traditional summer activity for thousands of anglers in many regions of the country. But often the most important part to good night success is selecting the right lake or river for your fishing.

Frequently, clear, deep lakes that have a lot of daytime use are prime night waters. Such lakes have water-skiers, sailboaters, speed boats, jet skis, and swimmers during the day. But at night, the bulk of human traffic goes home, and sportfish go on the prowl.

Look for bass, stripers, walleyes, crappies, bluegills, catfish and other species in typically good “feeding” areas you’d expect to locate them during a “hot bite” in the day. Points, islands, riprap, dam areas, weed lines, docks and pilings all can offer excellent night fishing. Some of the best and easiest to fish night spots are where there are large lights that shine down into the water–like around docks, piers, marinas and some lake dams.


Lights attract insects, which draw minnows, and that pulls in feeding game fish. Sometimes bass, crappies, catfish, and others can be caught right in the bright parts of lights shining down into the water. But often the biggest, oldest, and most shy sportfish hold in the dark, just outside a light beam hitting the water’s surface.

Fish slow and methodical at night. Fish at night can have a difficult time homing-in and hitting a lure, so make it easy for them. Slow-swimming minnow-like lures, chugger plugs, buzz-baits, and big spinner-baits with large Colorado blades are good because they make a lot of commotion and put out a lot of fish-attracting vibrations.

Rapids Hold Hot Fish:

During the hottest, brightest parts of summer, many fish (and plenty of surprisingly big ones) can be found holding in riffled stream or river water. This even occurs on some waters where there are deep holes and under-cut banks offering fish plenty of shade.

There are several reasons fish “hold” in riffles. One, such water is highly oxygenated, and since low-oxygen levels stress fish in some rivers, they naturally gravitate to riffled water. Further, in riffles and rapids minnows, crayfish and stream nymphs are tumbled around in the water column and disoriented, which makes such places excellent feeding sites. Riffles also often “funnel” river water through narrows, which makes them natural places for game fish to ambush prey.


Any mid-stream current break in a riffle could be a key holding spot for fish to ambush prey. Casts should be made above, to the side, and below such stream breaks, which can include boulders, log jams, and bridge pilings.

Fish commonly found in summer riffles include most trout, smallmouth bass, some sunfish, and in deeper, slower riffles catfish and largemouth bass are available.

Many live baits score well in riffles, but artificials do, too. Soft plastic jerk baits, spinners, spoons, small crankbaits, and streamer flies and nymphs can be counted on to catch most riffled-water species.

High-Speed Lure Retrieves:

While there are no “absolutes” in fishing, during summer when the water is warm and cold-blooded fish are more active, high-speed lures often catch fish that ignore lures that inch along bottom.

This is just the opposite of what many anglers believe. The old wives tale about the “dog days of summer” still persists in many fishing regions. Such anglers believe that a slowly worked plastic worm, jig, or spoon is the only way to catch “lethargic” summer fish.

While slow lure speeds may at times work in summer, faster lure speeds more frequently are the norm.


Naturally, faster cranking techniques with plugs, spoons, spinners, and plastic worms likely will produce more summer fish. But more subtle ways of increasing lure speed can be accomplished and may tempt more fish into striking. For example, use a heavy spinner-bait with a smaller willow leaf blade that spins fast as the lure “drops” more quickly than a light spinner-bait with large Colorado blades. Such a lure has a lot of flash and sparkle due to its fast-spinning blades, and that draws active, summer fish.

Often a crank bait with a tighter, “shorter” wobble will catch more fish in summer than a similar lure with a slower, wider arch in its wobbling action. A curly-tail worm looks like it’s moving faster than one with a normal or straight tail. Curly-tail worms added to spoons and spinner-baits can make them appear as though they’re moving much faster than they really are.

“Bump” for Bass and Others:

For some reason, a lure that “bumps” or slams into an object or the lake or river bottom during a retrieve often is struck by fish that ignore the same lure that doesn’t “bump” cover. This is especially so in summer, when bass, pike, trout, walleyes, muskies, and other fish are particularly active.

“Bumping” is easy to do and doesn’t take much altering of lures or retrieving techniques. Just make sure that when you’re casting a spinner-bait to a lily pad or bulrush clump, you pull the lure right into the cover, allowing it to “bump” and carom off. Be sure crank baits are brought in so they bounce off a bridge abutment or dig and hop along bottom, a rock retaining wall, standing timber, brush, or rip rap bank.