Skip to main content

Drought Hits Anglers Too

Pros say conditions make it even tougher in already difficult time to fish

Drought Hits Anglers Too
Drought Hits Anglers Too

With the most severe drought conditions in a generation continuing to linger over much of the United States, the effects it has had on crops and wildlife is well-documented.

And while it may be easier to forget how it affects them, the drought definitely has an impact on fishing, according to several of the world’s top bass anglers.

Jeff Kriet of Ardmore, Okla., a regular on the Bassmaster Elite Series, lives in an area severely hit by the drought, and he said it has affected virtually every fishing source in the region.

“You have to go find the fish in new areas, and meanwhile, the fish are looking for cover,” said Kriet, who has one career Elite Series victory. “More often than not, they just end up suspending out in the middle of the lake. They will roam around, feeding on shad – acting a lot like stripers.”


According to the National Drought Monitor Center’s most recent report released on July 31, 52.65 percent of the United States and Puerto Rico are mired in a moderate drought or worse.  The area of the lower 48 states experiencing extreme drought – the second-highest classification behind exceptional drought – rose nearly 2 percent in late July to 22.3 percent. Oklahoma is one of the hardest hit areas.


“A lot of ways it affects you is things you don’t think about,” Kriet said. “Right now, it’s getting to the point where you can’t get to some of the boat ramps on the lakes. And as the lakes continue to drop, more and more cover and timber and things become exposed. Then you run more of a risk running into those things with your boat. You’ve got to be a lot more careful.”

But Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., who lives in another region hit hard, said while drought-time fishing causes plenty of hardships, it also creates opportunities.

“It definitely changes things, but some of those things can be for the better,” said Davis, the winner of five Elite Series events, including the 1995 Bassmaster Classic. “The fish will tend to gang up on what cover they DO have. Then if you can find the fish, you can usually find a lot of them.”

Kriet agreed.


“It’s a hard time to be trying to catch fish,” he said. “I caught a suspended fish the other day in 70 feet of water. If you can find them gathered around cover, on a point or brush, there will probably be several of them, but nothing’s guaranteed.”

Not everyone dislikes fishing in low water. Elite Series angler Craig Schuff of Watauga, Texas, said it’s one of his favorite times to catch fish.

“It’s pretty simple: It’s easier to find them when there’s less places for them to hide,” Schuff said, laughing. “A lot of times, when the water’s falling, the fish don’t want to leave where they are. I just find it easier to catch them in low-water conditions.”


Zell Rowland of Montgomery, Texas, a five-time winner on the Elite Series, said it is just another obstacle for the professional angler to overcome.

“And it’s different from lake to lake,” Rowland said. “On Conroe, we saw the lake down eight feet, and [the bass] were backing up to the mud banks in real shallow water. I don’t know how they could stand it.

“Then on Table Rock in Missouri, they will suspend at 50-60 feet. We would have to find schools of bait fish [on the depth finder] and roll your bait through them.”

Then there are the extreme cases, Rowland said, one of which is O.C. Fisher Reservoir.

“Last year, it completely dried up,” he said of the lake near San Angelo, Texas, that formerly covered more than 5,400 acres and remains dry today. “The water sheds up there aren’t very big to begin with. The lake just couldn’t tolerate the drought.”

Davis said, in simple terms, it’s a difficult time to fish.

“In the end, it’s summertime fishing,” he said. “It’s hot on the fish and they’re going to suspend. Hot water always makes for tough fishing. The fish suspend, they don’t feed and they’re hard to catch.

“I know how hard it is for the professional guys. So the average angler is going to struggle.”

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New G. Loomis IMX Pro Rod Series

New G. Loomis IMX Pro Rod Series

David Brinkerhoff of G. Loomis shares his knowledge of the new IMX Pro rod series. The IMX Pro rod series comes in 10 new models and will cover five technique-specific categories. Available Fall 2020. MSRP $345-355.

Kevin VanDam Fishing Reels from Lew

Kevin VanDam Fishing Reels from Lew's

The Kevin VanDam LFS Baitcast reel ($139.99) comes in three models (6.2:1, 7.5:1, 8.3:1), with right- and left-hand retrieve, 10-bearing system with Zero Reverse one-way clutch, aluminum frame and spool, carbon fiber drag system, up to 20 pounds drag power.

Strike King Ned Rage Craw

Strike King Ned Rage Craw

In-Fisherman's Todd Ceisner sits down with Mark Zona to discuss the new Ned Rage Craw to hear all about how this little finesse bait, is going to get you those extra couple bites when times get tough.

Minn Kota Raptor

Minn Kota Raptor

Associate Brand Manager Adam Knowles, from Minn Kota, talks with Rob Neuman from In-Fisherman, about the all-new Raptor shallow water anchor.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?5 Great Lures For Bluegills Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

In need of a rugged container to sip from in the backcountry? We've got you covered. From tumblers to bottles to flasks (and even clever bottle openers), we've rounded up some of the best bar gear for the outdoors.Ultimate Outdoor Bar Gear Roundup The Deck

Ultimate Outdoor Bar Gear Roundup

Chelsie Walters and Jessyca Sortillon - August 31, 2020

In need of a rugged container to sip from in the backcountry? We've got you covered. From...

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near anything that fits in their mouths.5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures Catfish

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

Keith Sutton

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near...

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time.10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

'Entering a fishing tournament is like gambling. If you can afford it, go for it, but I'm not bankrolling you.'Money Fish: Things Change When Cash is on the Line Stories

Money Fish: Things Change When Cash is on the Line

Jeff Johnston - August 05, 2020

'Entering a fishing tournament is like gambling. If you can afford it, go for it, but I'm not...

Bow fisherman arrows fish of a lifetime on South Texas trip.240 Pounds! Massive Alligator Gar Taken on Father's Day Other Freshwater

240 Pounds! Massive Alligator Gar Taken on Father's Day

Lynn Burkhead - June 22, 2020

Bow fisherman arrows fish of a lifetime on South Texas trip.

When an angler has thinking time—like now—interesting thoughts come to mind.Sheltered in Place: I Miss My Boat-Ramp Friends Stories

Sheltered in Place: I Miss My Boat-Ramp Friends

Tory Mansfield - April 10, 2020

When an angler has thinking time—like now—interesting thoughts come to mind.

Cabela's agrees to be bought by Bass Pro Shops in a deal valued at $5.5 billion that will combine the top two hunting and fishing retailers in the United StatesBass Pro Shops 'Reels In' Cabela's with $5.5 Billion Deal Stories

Bass Pro Shops 'Reels In' Cabela's with $5.5 Billion Deal

Abhijith Ganapavaram and Sruthi Shankar

Cabela's agrees to be bought by Bass Pro Shops in a deal valued at $5.5 billion that will...

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now