Paul Nelson: Weeds are maturing, spreading in Bemidji area lakes
It took until the last week in July to get a week of summer-like weather in the Bemidji area.
Many of the weeds in the lakes are beginning to mature and the tops of some of the plants are breaking during strong winds and littering the surface of the lakes after storms.
This is the natural re-seeding process for many types of aquatic vegetation. The plants grow until they reach the surface of the water and then are pollinated, much like most of the plants growing on land.
Once the vegetation is pollinated, they begin to form seeds. The seeds make the weeds top heavy and eventually the top portion of the weeds holding the seeds are broken off and are carried away by the waves and spread to other parts of the lake.
Anglers are finding summer fishing patterns developing in the lakes as the fish respond to the warmer water temperatures and reduced visibility in the water.
Fish are more scattered during the early summer than at any other time of the year. Once the water temperatures begin to rise, the fish will start to move out of the deeper parts of the lakes and stay above the thermocline where oxygen levels are higher.
Walleyes in many lakes have been moving to the top of the deeper humps and on the sides of mid-lake bars and other larger structures.
Most lakes in the Bemidji area have several species of gamefish so there is a pecking order that develops as the various gamefish species try to find their niches.
The favorite location for most gamefish species is the outside edge of the weedline so the dominant species in the lake usually feed along the deep edge of the weedline.
A school of big walleyes or big bass can take over a weed bed but the fish will still be pushed off the spot when a large muskie or several big pike arrive.
When in competition with other gamefish species, largemouth bass usually are pushed toward shallow water while walleyes usually move into deeper water.
Smallmouth bass may go in either direction, with some of the smallmouth going shallow with the largemouth bass and the rest of the smallmouth going deep with the walleyes.
When largemouth bass are the dominant gamefish species in a lake, they will use all types of habitat, including mid-lake structures.
When largemouth bass are a secondary species in a lake, most of the bass will be located in shallow water.
Fish will share structure on locations with plentiful food. Anglers may find walleyes using a patch of cabbage weeds one day and find the same weed bed loaded with pike the next time they fish the spot.
The fish don’t have an organized schedule when it comes to feeding. The fish arrive at all times of the day to take their turns feeding in areas loaded with minnows and other prey.
Anglers have a variety of options when it comes to presentations during the summer period. Anglers can try faster moving presentations like bottom bouncers and spinners or trolling crankbaits or other artificial lures to cover more water to locate the fish.
More traditional methods will still work for active walleyes during the summer. Once anglers locate the fish, they can slow their presentations and use a live-bait rig with leeches, night crawlers or larger minnows.
Micro spinners will also work and can be used with a half-ounce sinker and a spinning rod for anglers who don’t have a rod that can handle the heavier bottom bouncer sinkers.
Anglers can also use jigs and minnows or jigs and plastics all summer long. They can also use a threaded night crawler on a jig or a double hooked leech on a jig and catch fish any time of the year.