Area anglers enjoying break from summer heat
There is no way to know if the cooler weather this past week is the beginning of the fall-like weather or if there is more hot weather coming that will cause another upward spike in the surface water temperatures.
Last year the Bemidji area had some of the nicest weather of the summer in September, so this may be the beginning of the fall cool-down or it could just be a temporary break in a hot summer.
If the cool-down has begun and surface water temperatures have reached their peak there will be some changes coming soon in the area lakes and the bite should begin to improve for most species of fish.
Walleyes continue to be difficult to catch in most lakes when the conditions are less than favorable. Persistent anglers can usually pick off a few walleyes in almost any conditions if they stay at it long enough but the hot walleye bites on most lakes have been sporadic and short-lived and usually occur under low-light conditions.
Most walleyes are avoiding feeding under bright sunshine because they are trying to conserve energy during the heat of the day. Walleyes usually wait to feed until they have a distinct sight advantage over their prey, which helps them expend a minimum amount of energy catching their food.
High water temperatures create high metabolic rates for fish, which are cold blooded. Walleyes want to stay cool when they are resting between meals, which usually means hugging the bottom in deeper water or staying buried under a weed bed to stay in the shade during the hottest portion of the day.
When it is time for walleyes to feed they either move up in the weed beds and get active or move up the breakline towards shallower water and begin to hunt for perch, crayfish and other minnows.
Walleyes can be picky eaters and usually locate along edges between different types of habitat so they have access to more food choices when they get hungry.
Anglers can try to take advantage of the walleye's picky nature by experimenting with different presentations to try and find the combination that triggers the most bites.
Anglers are able to change many different variables, including color, shape, size and different types of live bait. There are also numerous artificial lures for walleyes including all of the lipped and non-lipped crankbaits and minnow baits as well as plastics and a wide variety of spinner blades, hooks and beads.
Summer is the time when the most different patterns are being used by the fish at the same time and also the time when anglers are able to use the widest variety of presentations and still be able to catch a few fish.
Some anglers are constantly tweaking their presentations, trying to find something different that will help them get more bites and catch more fish.
Confidence is a big part of any presentation. When anglers try something new, it is natural to be skeptical and wonder if it will work until they actually catch a fish using the new presentation. Once anglers catch a fish they gain confidence and believe they can catch another fish if they do things the same way.
Many walleye anglers bring a big stack of rods because they don't know what presentation is going to work best on that day.
Bottom bouncers and spinner rigs have been working on days with a tough bite when anglers need to cover more water. Most anglers use leeches or nightcrawlers on their spinner rigs.
Anglers can also use live-bait rigs or jigs to catch walleyes virtually all summer. Both jigs and live-bait rigs are simply delivery systems to get live bait to walleyes in an appealing way.
Walleyes may also take artificial presentations under certain conditions but walleyes can't stop eating live bait or they will starve and most walleyes don't look like they are starving when they get caught.
Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.