Surface water temperatures dropped back below 70 degrees in some area lakes this past week, due to the rain and cooler weather.
The dip in water temperatures slows down algae growth in the lakes and prevents summer fishing patterns from fully developing.
Summer fishing patterns require enough algae in the water to reduce visibility and water temperatures warm enough to reduce oxygen levels below the thermocline. This combination allows fish to feed in shallow water during the day and limits how deep they can go in the lake.
With surface water temperatures hovering around the 70 degree mark, algae in the lakes won't bloom and the water will stay clear. This allows fish to go as deep as they want, as long as they can find enough food to eat.
The cooler water temperatures did not prevent the last and largest variety of mayflies from hatching on many of the area lakes this past week.
The end of the mayfly hatch will move the food chain and have a drastic effect on the location of many fish species. Perch will no longer be able to feed on mayfly larvae suspended over mud bottom in deep water and will have to find another food source.
Perch attract a following of walleyes and northern pike where ever they go. Perch have been feeding in deep water since shortly after the spawn, where they have been difficult to catch.
Once the mayfly hatch has finished, which should happen sometime in the next week, a portion of the perch population will head towards the tops of humps or other areas with rock or chara on the bottom, so they can hunt for crayfish and minnows.
Anywhere perch go, walleyes and northern pike will follow. The movement of perch will begin to take hold as water temperatures rise and the algae bloom intensifies in the lakes.
Walleye fishing across the Bemidji area has been better in many of the larger lakes, where there are more patterns happening at the same time in the same lake.
Lake Winnibigoshish has had a good walleye bite on many of the smaller humps as well as on windward areas of the larger bars. There has also been a good walleye bite in areas with cabbage weeds, especially when the wind is blowing enough to stir up the water.
Anglers fishing Winnibigoshish have been using live bait rigs with longer snells, tipped with either leeches or inflated night crawlers. Spinner rigs or crankbaits work best with warmer water temperatures.
Leech Lake continues to be good for walleyes with several different patterns working. Anglers have been fishing both shoreline structure and mid-lake humps for walleyes.
Leech Lake has a lot of different types of habitat for walleyes. Rocky shorelines and mid-lake rock reefs are one pattern for walleyes in Leech Lake. The wind usually plays a key role in determining which rocky areas have the most active fish on any given day.
Leech Lake also has deep humps in some bays like Walker Bay, Agency Bay and Kabekona Bay. The most active walleyes will usually be on top of the deep humps, so anglers know where to look and can tell quickly if a hump is holding active fish.
Leech Lake also has extensive weed beds, with cabbage weeds supporting a mixture of species including walleyes, northern pike, perch, largemouth bass, muskies and even sunfish and crappies.
Upper Red Lake continues to be hot lake when the wind is calm. Anglers may have to search a little deeper for the walleyes, but a pattern usually isn't hard to establish.
Cass Lake continues to be good for walleyes, with most fish in deep water because of the water clarity. Live bait rigs tipped with leeches, night crawlers or larger minnows have all been producing walleyes.
Muskies and bass anglers have been also been catching fish, so anglers are able to fish for just about any species by switching lakes and choosing the appropriate presentations to target the species they want to catch.
Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. He can be contacted by calling 218-759-2235.