Paul Nelson: Some smaller Bemidji area lakes are beginning to freeze
Temperatures were cold enough earlier this week to freeze some of the lakes in the Bemidji area but persistent high winds during the cold weather were enough to prevent most of the lakes from freezing.
The extended forecast for next week predicts cooler temperatures again, which may freeze a few more of the lakes if the wind doesn’t interfere with the freezing process.
The same wind that prevented lakes from freezing was also making conditions tougher for rifle deer hunters this past week. Most rifle deer hunters sit in deer stands high up in a tree, which is not nearly as much fun in gusty winds.
The statewide deer registrations from the first three days of the season were down about 8 percent, with the strong winds clearly one of the variables hampering the hunters.
The snow on the ground has been melting the last few days, which is not helpful for deer hunting. Snow is a tremendous help when tracking wounded deer and looking for sign. Snow also creates a white background in the woods, which helps hunters see the brown colored deer that are on the move.
The melting snow may be good news for anglers who want to get their boats in the lakes one more time. Boat ramps at the accesses can be very slippery when covered with snow and ice can cover the access when it gets wet from anglers pulling their boats in and out of the lake.
Most anglers still on the lakes are fishing for muskies. The cold temperatures force muskie anglers to troll late in the season because casting results in wet hands, which is not good when the temperatures are this cold.
Muskie anglers are looking for areas with concentrations of post spawn tulibees. Lipped baits in the silver and black color patterns are often the most productive lures because they imitate the tulibees many large muskies are keying on late in the season.
Dark house anglers can take note of the locations with post spawn tulibees, which should be the same areas with concentrations of pike during early ice.
Walleye anglers are looking for the “spot on the spot” during the cold water period. The long drifts many anglers do when looking for walleyes during the summer are not nearly as productive in the cold water.
Walleye anglers need to use their electronics to find the fish before putting their bait in the water. Presentations usually need to be slow for walleyes during the cold water period, with anglers trying to hover their boats over the fish.
The same presentations that work though the ice will work out of the boat late in the season. Jigging spoons and jigging minnows can both be good choices for vertically fishing walleyes out of a boat.
Jigs and minnows will also work for walleyes late in the season, although anglers may need to use a heavier jig when the walleyes are located in deep water.
Stinger hooks can be helpful if anglers are having trouble with short hitting fish that take the bait or scratch the minnow without getting the main hook on the jig.
Anglers can attach the stinger hook to the minnow if it does not impede the action, otherwise letting the stinger hook hang free is sometimes a better option.
Some anglers like to fish crappies during the cold water period because they are usually concentrated into larger schools and are very catchable during the day.
Once anglers locate a school of crappies the challenge becomes getting small lures into deep water at the same level as the crappies.
The new braided lines have super thin diameters which can make it much easier to get small baits into deep water. Crappies are visual feeders so anglers will want to use a shock leader of fluorocarbon line on the end of the super braid.
Anglers can learn to tie a perfect knot and use one of several knots to tie the two pieces of line directly together. The other option is to use a short leader with a small swivel but anglers risk reeling the line in too far and pulling the swivel through the rod guides, which can ruin them pretty quickly.