Spinners are effective for catching Bemidji area walleyes
Lakes in the Bemidji area had dipped below the 70-degree mark but more hot weather this past week have raised the water temperatures back above 70 degrees.
Many walleye anglers are still using spinner rigs with night crawlers or leeches but some anglers have already made the switch back to jigs and minnows or live-bait rigs with night crawlers, larger minnows or leeches.
Crankbaits and other artificial baits will also work for walleyes late in the summer, especially in larger lakes with long stretches of good trolling water.
Walleye anglers using spinner rigs will usually have better success fishing a 1 to 1.5-ounce bottom bouncer when fishing water deeper than 15 feet.
Anglers using spinner rigs in water shallower than 15 feet usually have better success with a quarter ounce bullet or egg sinker which help keep the baits from dragging on the bottom. Bullet or egg sinkers are the best choice because they don’t spin on the line and are less likely to get caught in the weeds.
Most anglers use a bait casting rod and reel for fishing bottom bouncers, with 10-pound test braided line a good choice on the reel and 10 or 12-pound test fluorocarbon leader on the spinner.
Anglers fishing lighter sinkers with a spinner rig can use a spinning rod with either 8-pound test monofilament or 8-pound test super braid on the reel and a 10-pound test fluorocarbon leader on the spinner.
The color and size of the spinner blade can make a huge difference in the number of bites anglers get when walleye fishing. A quick change clevis on a spinner allows anglers to change spinner blades without cutting the line, which makes it easier to switch spinner blades to find the most productive color and size.
Walleyes in many of the deep lakes like Bemidji, Cass and Plantagenet have been pushing down the breakline onto the sides of bars, points and humps. Depths of 12 to 18 feet of water are a good range to start searching.
Because of the cooling water temperatures the thermocline is beginning to push deeper in many lakes. Anglers may also see schools of tulibees and other fish stacking up on the top edge of the thermocline in some lakes.
Walleyes in shallow lakes like Upper Red Lake, Winnibigoshish and the shallow bays of Leech Lake have been moving back into shallow water, with many of the “eating-size” walleyes in 6 to 12 feet of water.
Anglers are also finding perch beginning to gather into larger schools in many of the large lakes. Perch like to feed on crayfish, minnows and smaller perch on the edges of bars or on chara covered flats in 5 to 9 feet of water in most situations.
There was a huge hatch of perch this spring on most of the better perch lakes. The young-of-the-year perch have grown to about two inches which is big enough to start drawing the attention of larger perch and smaller walleyes.
Bass have been one of the most active species this summer, with bass thriving in the warmer water temperatures. Most largemouth bass have been using heavy cover. Deep reeds, wild rice, cane edges, bulrushes and lily pads are all potential bass holding areas.
Sunfish have been using the edges of weeds like cabbage, coontail and northern milfoil. The greenest, healthiest patches of weeds are usually the most attractive to sunfish.
Crappies may also be using the edges of weed beds but they may also be on submerged brush or deep rocks. The crappie bite is usually best under low light conditions during the summer but crappies will begin to feed more often during the day as fall approaches and will continue to do so into the winter.
Muskies and northern pike are active in late summer all the way through the fall until the lakes freeze. This summer has been a boom for muskies and big pike, with easy pickings on the surface of the lakes with all the dying tulibees in the warm water.
Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org