Last month I bought myself a fishing thermometer. Full disclosure: I am not proud of this.
But there comes a time in every angler’s life when he or she has run out of fun and practical fishing-related things to sneak into the house. Once that time arrives, all that is left to buy is a good fishing thermometer. Which is not so bad if you know how to use them.
Many anglers buy fishing thermometers under the mistaken impression that you only use them to prove to your spouse that you have a bad case of fishing fever. Of course, that’s ridiculous. You can do that with a hot cup of tea and a normal thermometer.
The only thing a fishing thermometer really allows you to do is measure water temperatures at various depths for as far down as you can lower it on a cord. This information allows you to determine the depth which has the preferred temperatures for the fish you are targeting, so you can focus your efforts there.
Come to think of it, that’s not all a fishing thermometer does.
If you have a fishing thermometer you can use it to accurately determine how long you would last in the water if you wore your leakiest set of waders. And also, if your fertility would be affected.
The importance of either cannot be underestimated.
Mostly, however, I like carrying around my fishing thermometer because it makes me feel like I am taking a more scientific approach towards fishing. And, since they are so discreet, other anglers won’t make as much fun of me as they did that time I wore my white lab coat and carried a Bunsen burner.
Admittedly, you could find the surface water temperature, fish and even the thermocline with almost any modern fish finder – and I own one of those too. But fishing electronics can break down or run out of power. And they don’t tell you temperatures below surface level. Plus they are often not portable enough to carry into backwoods lakes.
A fishing thermometer is lightweight and fits in your front pocket, which come in handy on a canoe trip. Plus, the only thing that can render one useless is forgetting your reading glasses at home – or on top of your head.
I suppose, you are wondering what makes a fishing thermometer different from the ones you already have at home. Primarily, it is where you put them. But also, with a fishing thermometer, you never have to mutter, “Say ahhh” before dropping it into the lake. Oh, and fishing thermometers are enclosed in a sturdier case too, a quality that would be more reassuring on your home thermometer too – depending on where the reading is being taken from.
In any case, I plan to use my fishing thermometer frequently this year, especially in backwoods lakes. I don’t expect this to increase my catch a lot. But I imagine using one will keep me more informed about what water depths the fish prefer throughout the season. Trout, of course, are a cold-water species. So, if I can determine where the cold water is I will be more efficient with my time on the water and know I am on the right track. Then, I’ll be able to fish calmly, knowing full well I am in the zone.
On the other hand, when my thermometer shows me I wasted time where water temperatures are too high, I imagine I’ll be seeing red.