Paul Nelson column for Aug,. 14: Lakes starting to green up as temperatures soar
The Bemidji area finally got some hot weather this past week and surface water temperatures in the lakes quickly jumped into the mid 70s.
An algae bloom in the lakes is "greening up" the water, which could help trigger a good muskie bite in Bemidji area lakes.
Muskies have a chance to live to an old age because of the 48-inch size limit and also because of the strong catch and release ethics of muskie anglers.
Muskies can get conditioned to the baits they see during the summer, especially if they are seeing a certain type of lure over and over again. They can also learn to avoid lures that they have been caught on before and then released.
Muskies have very good vision, which can make them more difficult for anglers to fool with artificial lures, especially when the water is clear.
Muskies can be more likely to make a mistake when the water clarity drops, at least until they get acclimated to the change in visibility.
The peak bite of the muskie season often occurs shortly after the first significant algae bloom of the summer, which just occurred this past week.
Anglers that have been pounding the water for muskies all summer might want to get out on their favorite muskie lake soon, just in case the muskies go on a feeding binge.
Many muskie anglers follow trends and are eager to try new baits. The current trend in muskie fishing is the huge plastic baits that can be 12 to 16 inches in length.
Sometimes muskie anglers can have more success bucking the trends and using lures that are different from what other anglers are using, even if it is just weighting, painting or somehow doctoring the lures to look differently from other lures.
An algae bloom in the lakes may also move other species of fish towards shallow water. Walleyes and other light sensitive species are able to feed more comfortably during the day when algae in the water reduce the amount of sunlight penetrating into the lake.
Walleye anglers have been using spinner rigs tipped with night crawlers as the bait of choice on most lakes. A bottom bouncer is a good way to get spinner rigs down to the bottom with a minimum amount of line and still be able to move fast enough to keep the spinner blades turning and the bait near the bottom.
Spinners, crankbaits and other fast moving presentation usually work best for walleyes during the hottest portion of the summer.
Some anglers will also use a white or glow twister tail on a spinner rig with a light bullet or egg sinker to fish on top of structure when the walleyes and perch move on top of structure.
Anglers trying to fish on top of structure need to match the speed of their presentation with the amount of line they let out behind the boat, to get close to the bottom without dragging the baits and getting covered with weeds.
Instead of letting out line at the side of the boat, anglers should get their boat moving first and then cast out some line and close the reel.
Safety pin spinners will also work well for perch and walleyes in shallow water. Anglers can troll the spinners until they make contact with the fish and then cast and retrieve them when they find an active group of fish.
Bass and northern pike have also been active in the hot weather. Anglers can cast weedless baits into heavy cover for bass. Northern pike will bite well on smaller muskie baits fished on the outside edge of the cabbage weed beds.
Live bait also works well for northern pike. Bobber rigs with live sucker minnows can be effective when anglers have some fish located and larger jigs tipped with a medium size sucker or chub work well for trolling for pike.
Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. He can be contacted by calling 218-759-2235.