Timing, persistence keys to catching walleyes
Summer is a time of plenty for walleyes and other predator species living in the lakes in the Bemidji area. There is such an abundance of food and so many different choices fish are able to live in just about any part of the lake and still be able to find enough food to eat.
Between this year's minnow hatches, the multitude of insect hatches, crayfish of all sizes and many different species of adult baitfish living in the lakes, walleyes and other gamefish are able to jump from one "all you can eat" buffet to another most of the summer.
Many anglers know enough about fishing that they can catch a few walleyes when they are hungry and actively feeding. The tricky part is catching walleyes when they are not hungry and not actively looking for something to eat.
Walleyes, like most other gamefish, have certain talents or skills they use to gain an advantage over their prey. The two main advantages walleyes have are their superior eyesight and their ability to feed in schools.
There is no reason for walleyes to feed when they can't use their skills to their maximum advantage, especially when food is plentiful and easy to find. Walleyes are able to wait until the conditions are right before getting active, grab a quick meal and then spend the rest of the day digesting their food and taking it easy.
Anglers can learn to predict when the walleyes will get active and try to be at the right place at the right time when the walleyes are relatively easy to catch.
The other option for anglers is to fish for walleyes when they are not actively feeding. Anglers can use their electronics to find walleyes and then go back and forth through the fish with a preferred food like leeches, night crawlers or select minnows, hoping to coax a few fish into biting.
Fortunately for anglers and the fish, all of the fish do not become active at the same time. That means there are at least a few fish feeding at almost any time of day.
The odds are with the anglers when the walleyes are actively feeding but the odds are against the anglers when the majority of the walleyes are resting.
Most lakes in the Bemidji area have several species of gamefish and panfish. Anglers have the option of switching species during the day so they can fish for species that are actively feeding based on the conditions and time of day.
Walleyes, muskies and crappies like to feed during low-light conditions and are most likely to be active in the mornings or evenings or when there is cloud cover to block out some of the sunlight.
Other species like northern pike and bass like to feed during the day when they can use their camouflaged bodies to hide in the shade or use the weeds as cover. Sunfish and perch also like to feed during the day when they are better able to see their prey and also see the predators.
This gives versatile anglers the option of switching species as the day progresses and fishing for species that are more likely to be active.
The full moon was this past week so some of the fish have been feeding at night, which can also make fishing tougher during the day. Walleyes, muskies and crappies are all able to feed at night, especially during the full moon phase.
The best lakes for walleyes recently have been Winnibigoshish, Upper Red Lake, Cass and Bemidji, but the fishing has been spotty at times on all of the lakes.
With the insect hatches tapering off walleyes and other species will be moving tighter to structure where they can find minnows, baitfish and crayfish. As the algae blooms increase, the general movement of fish will be back towards shallower water.
Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.