With 100-degree days blanketing most of the state in the past 10 days, the main fishing respite occurs in North Carolina's mountains. Anglers can put together float-fishing trips and get cool at the same time.

"The high yesterday (July 4) was 88 on the New River," said Marty Shaffner of Tri-State Angler Service. "It's usually 10 to 12 degrees cooler up here than down below."

And July is prime time to fish for smallmouth bass on the New.

"We always target smallmouths during the summer, but we also catch a few red eyes and panfish," said Shaffner, who lives near Stone Mountain State Park. "On July 4, we caught a lot of 10- to 14-inch smallmouths, with five over 15 inches, including one 17-incher."


Key summertime lures include topwater popping bugs and terrestrial flies for fly-rod anglers, and soft-plastic tube baits, Pop-Rs, Tiny Torpedos and quarter-ounce buzzbaits for fishermen who prefer light or ultra light spinning tackle.


"If they're not hitting on top, Clousers in white, olive-white and chartreuse-white work good, along with Woolly Buggers and big nymphs," he said. "Plastic lizards and 3-inch Flukes also work well. Sometimes I use floats with 4- to 5-inch Flukes or lizards."


Shaffner (336-902-0044) looks for rocky structure along the shoreline, typically cliff faces that have deep pools. Sometimes eddies behind rocks will hold smallies looking for a meal to be washed downstream, "but sometimes the eddies are filled in. The best idea is to look to the banks."


Summer is the time of terrestrials, such as crickets or grasshoppers.

"Those work well for fly-rod anglers, too," Shaffner said.


Weather is a key factor.


"You have to watch for the summer thunderstorms that roll over the ridges," he said. "They can muddy up the water bad and that turns off fishing."


Summer float fishing can have a cooling effect as well - anglers often tie up to rocks or logs and get out of canoes or kayaks to wade fish in the chilly water.

 Top-drawer smallmouth fishing will last until water temperatures drop in September.