Paul Nelson column for Aug. 21: Spinner rigs draw walleyes when visibility is low
The brief period of hot weather was enough to raise surface water temperatures into the mid 70s, which triggered an algae bloom in many Bemidji area lakes.
But like most of the summer of 2009, cold, wind and rain quickly dropped the surface water temperatures back into the 60s again. The extended forecast predicts another chance for warm weather through the weekend and into next week.
The spike in surface water temperatures and the sudden algae bloom caused more walleyes to move into shallow water to feed.
Walleyes in many lakes have moved on top of the mid-lake bars and humps. If the structure is too shallow on top for walleyes, they will use the sides of the structure or hang close to some feature on the hump that holds the most forage.
Many anglers have been using bottom bouncers and spinner rigs for walleyes. Anglers can use the two-hook spinner rigs with a nightcrawler, trying to hook the crawler so it hangs straight on the hooks.
Single hook spinner rigs work better for leeches and minnows, or anglers can hook a nightcrawler in the middle, leaving "two tails" instead of one. Anglers can also thread the nightcrawler on the single hook rigs, leaving the tail of the nightcrawler dangling behind the hook.
Spinner rigs work best for walleyes when water temperatures are warm and there is limited visibility in the water due to stain or an algae bloom. The spinners add flash to help walleyes see the bait better and the sound and vibration help walleyes hear and feel the bait, which helps them locate the bait better.
Bottom bouncers come in many different weights, from ½ ounce to more than 2 ounces. Anglers fishing in shallow water can use the ½-ounce or ¾-ounce bottom bouncers and anglers fishing in medium to deep water can usually get by with either the 1½-ounce or 2-ounce bottom bouncer.
The speed anglers fish a spinner rig for walleyes is also important. Anglers need to go fast enough to keep the spinner blades turning and avoid dragging the baits on the bottom, but not too fast or the walleyes won't strike the bait.
Most GPS units give the ground speed in tenths of an mph. For most situations, anglers can fish spinner rigs between 1 and 1½ mph and have good success.
Sometimes speeds slower than 1 mph or faster than 1½ mph work better, so anglers have to experiment with speed and pay close attention to how fast they are going when they catch a walleye.
The color of spinner blade can be another important variable. Sometimes certain colors work better, sometimes metallic or holographic blades produce more bites.
Most packaged spinner rigs use Indiana-Style blades, but there are many different styles of blades too, so some experimentation there can also help catch more fish.
The "Bemidji-Rig" is a spinner rig with a bait-holder hook, which has barbs on the shaft of the hook to hold a twister-tail.
Anglers can tip the "Bemidji-Rig" with a minnow or a piece of nightcrawler or fish them plain, using only the twister tail. Most anglers use white or glow twister tails on the Bemidji-rig.
Many anglers use a level-wind reel (bait-casting reels) for bottom bouncers because of the heavier weight of the sinker. Anglers can substitute a spinning rod with the lighter bottom bouncers or use a bullet or egg sinker with their spinner rig.
Muskie anglers noticed an up-tick in muskie fishing during the hot weather, with several larger muskies getting caught on the area lakes. Anglers are still catching muskies fishing for other species of fish, so muskie anglers may want to do some experimenting with smaller baits.
Muskie anglers may also want to experiment more with wood baits late in the season. Wood jerk baits often catch a larger percentage of pike than muskies, but more action isn't usually a bad thing.
Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. He can be contacted by calling 218-759-2235.