Summer fishing patterns are holding steady
Summer is passing by very quickly, with a little more than one week remaining in July. The hottest part of the summer in the Bemidji area is usually the last half of July and the first half of August, so there is still a good chance for more hot weather in the next few weeks.
Summer patterns in the area lakes are holding steady. Surface water temperatures remain in the low to mid-70s in most lakes, which is still in the tolerable range for most cold-water species of fish.
Fish die-offs during the summer increase in likelihood as surface water temperatures exceed 75 degrees and become almost a certainty when water temperatures top 80 degrees.
Fishing this past week has been hampered by the weather, but anglers are still catching fish. There are many families vacationing in the Bemidji area this time of year, with the more serious anglers usually visiting in the spring or in the fall.
Anglers have had to deal with all sorts of weather changes this past week. Unstable weather keeps the fish scattered and breaks up any feeding patterns.
On some of the lakes which are experiencing an algae bloom, a few walleyes have been moving on top of mid-lake structure to feed during the day. Most of the best humps top out between six and 12 feet and have direct access to deep water.
When walleyes are on top of the structure they are usually active. They will move into deeper water after cold fronts or when they are not actively feeding.
Most anglers are using some type of spinner rig for walleyes, with safety pin spinners or a "Lake Bemidji Rig" working best in shallow water and a bottom bouncer and a spinner working better when walleyes move off the sides of structure.
Lake Winnibigoshish and Leech Lake have the most consistent walleye bite, but anglers are catching some walleyes on other lakes like Bemidji, Cass, Pike Bay and Plantagenet.
The walleyes in Lake Winnibigoshish have been on the mid-lake bars and humps, with anglers using live-bait rigs with leeches or night crawlers for bait.
Winnibigoshish is usually best for walleyes with a moderate wind, with the lake getting very rough when the winds get too strong. There has also been a shallow walleye bite in Winnie on days with wind, with the walleyes relating to both cabbage weeds and shoreline rocks.
Leech Lake has several large bays which give anglers the option of getting out of the direct wind or traveling to an access closer to where they want to fish.
Muskie fishing has picked up on most of the larger lakes in the last week or two. Anglers should continue to see good muskie fishing as long as the surface water temperatures don't get too warm.
Bass fishing is usually good most of the summer but bass can also be negatively affected by unstable weather. Fishing pressure can also be a big issue with bass. Anglers usually have better luck for bass in lakes where the fish don't get pressured by too many anglers.
Anglers are starting to see some large northern pike showing up in the cabbage weed beds. Big pike follow their food, so when most of the food is in shallow water, most of the big pike will be there as well.
Jumbo perch action has been picking up on lakes like Leech, Winnibigoshish, Cass, Bemidji, Pike Bay and Plantagenet. Anglers can usually find perch on the inside edge of the cabbage weeds in five to eight feet of water. A jig and minnow is hard to beat for catching perch, but a piece of night crawler or plastic baits also work well.
Sunfish are active during the day and anglers can find them on the edges of most types of weeds like cabbage, coontail and American milfoil. Sunfish like weeds close to deep water so they can dart out and grab a bit of food and then tuck themselves back under the weeds to hide from predators.