The sunset in my rearview mirror one evening last week was so spectacular I easily could have become fixated on the pretty picture.
My destination beckoned, so I had no time to stop for a better look to soak in the sunbeams, but they did warm my heart to the promise of the return of spring and summer.
The orange and red sunset sparked memories of great solar spectacles from last summer and beyond. On waters from the Caribbean to the North Woods and a hundred lakes in between, I’ve stood in awe as our solar system’s star beamed in beauty through the atmosphere to my eyes.
Yep, my eyes. I am convinced the light shows I see are for me and me alone. Who knows what you see? I can’t prove it. But I know what I see and what I see often is the beginning or end of a perfect day of fishing.
I fish whenever I can. I will go to the water in rain or snow, cloudy and gray or clear and blue. I go when I can get there, but I always go with more hope and optimism when the sun is painting the aerial canvas.
Sunsets are wonderful, but I particularly like a glorious sunrise. The fisherman in me interprets the colors as positive signs for a day full of bites and fights.
Red sky at night, they say, is a sailor’s delight. It’s often true, but not always, just as the red sky in morning doesn’t send me scurrying home to heed the sailor’s warning.
I’ve learned that I can often project how things will go on the water based on the first hint of color in the eastern sky.
Ah, morning. At dawn of a fine spring day, the fishing prospects seem boundless when the first glints of pink streak the sky. As the pink morphs to yellow, the air starts to warm – a sure sign that life will be stirring in the perimeter water at whatever lake I’ve chosen.
Color in the sky means our sun is at work, heating the shallows where crawdads crawl from mud burrows and minnows look for microscopic plants and bugs. As the spring soup starts bubbling, the dinner bell rings for hungry crappies, walleyes and bass.
None of this happens on spring days that dawn gray. Everything is slow to kick out of the doldrums unless the sun is putting color in the sky and energy in the water.
Morning on a summer fishing trip often is a canvas of a different color. I like to see the clouds and sun team up to highlight evidence we’ll see movement in the water.
Cloudless summer sunrises showcase the pastel gradient that burns up over the eastern horizon and sweeps color out to the deep blue zenith overhead. It’s pretty, but not quite as much as the purple and orange dawns when the cloud formations hint at the weather to come.
For me and for many, the best summer fishing is on days when the weather changes a wee bit during the day. We don’t need a dramatic event such as a storm. Rather a change in wind velocity or the arrival of a minor front can do wonders in terms of igniting action in the water.
A mackerel sky sunrise often means rain is not far away, and the hours that precede a summer drenching often are times when the fish activity peaks. Many animals, fish included, are conditioned to eat when they sense a pending change in conditions.
Reading the sky is a great way to start the day. The conditions the sky projects can inform the tactics that will guide anglers to success.
But regardless of the colors and patterns, the canvas is yours for a few moments of appreciation.
Soak in your sunrises. They are worth every second you invest.