Paul Nelson: Cooler temperatures result in clear water in Bemidji area lakes
The weather patterns have changed again in the Bemidji area. The hot and humid weather has been replaced with cooler, much more comfortable 70s during the day and perfect sleeping with 50s and the windows open at night.
Surface water temperatures in the lakes are dropping quickly with the cooler weather, which reduces the chances for a heavy algae bloom any time soon.
There is a slight green tint in a few lakes but most lakes are still very clear for this point in the season. With falling water temperatures in the lakes it would take another extended period of hot weather to get the algae in the lakes to bloom.
The lack of algae keeps the water clear and the oxygen levels high in the lakes. This means the cold water species are not having any of the problems that usually create a "summer-kill" in the lakes.
Fish are often limited to shallow water in many lakes by this time of year because the algae blocks out much of the sunlight and limits the amount of oxygen the other plants in the lake are able to make.
The clear water and lack of algae allows the vegetation in the lakes to keep growing and continue to produce oxygen. The lakes also get oxygen from the wind, as the waves aerate the upper layers of the water column and mix it into the water below.
The mayfly hatches have finished in the lakes, although there are smaller hatches of various types of insects all summer long.
Fish feed on the other insects but no other insect hatch during the summer has the impact or hatch in the huge numbers as the mayflies.
Walleye fishing should continue to improve as many walleyes look for alternate food sources now that the mayfly hatches are done.
The minnows that hatched this spring got a late start and are behind schedule. They are not big enough yet to provide much of a food option for larger fish.
The young-of-the-year minnows and baitfish usually come into play after the mayfly hatches. This year, many of the perch and walleyes will need to find something else to eat for a while until the slow-growing new hatches of minnows get large enough to make them viable prey.
This puts more pressure on previous age classes of perch, suckers, shiners and other minnows. Walleyes, perch, bass, trout and even northern pike also like to eat crayfish, whether they are looking for juveniles or larger adult crayfish.
The best walleye bites in the area recently have been on Lake Winnibigoshish and Lake of the Woods.
Winnibigoshish has been good on the bars and humps, with anglers having to figure out which humps are holding slot fish and which ones have some keepers mixed in with the larger fish.
The number of anglers is down this year in Winnibigoshish, presumably because of the "infected lake" status.
Anglers need to take responsibility to clean their boats when they move between bodies of water. Completely draining the boat of water and letting it dry and pulling all the weeds off the trailer and boat is mandatory.
With the small size of some of the things that can be spread, an extra trip to the car wash can't hurt. Anglers should spray off the outside of the boat and trailer and also the livewell with the hot water.
Lake of the Woods has been good for walleyes around most of the reefs and humps. The walleyes have been moving shallow in the mornings and evenings and deeper when the conditions are bright and sunny.
Lake Bemidji and Cass Lake are slowly starting to pick up for walleyes. More fish have been showing up on structure, with anglers using bottom bouncers and spinners tipped with leeches or night crawlers to locate the fish.
Once anglers locate some active walleyes, they have the option of trying to slow down and fish with live-bait rigs.
Perch fishing continues to be good in many of the larger lakes, with most of the perch located in six to eight feet of water. Anglers can use jigs and minnows for perch in most situations.