Walleye action starting to slow in Bemidji area lakes
Walleye fishing is starting to slow because of the long days and plentiful food in most lakes. The bite can be especially tough when the conditions do not give walleyes an advantage over their prey.
There is no reason for walleyes to feed when they do not have the sight advantage over their prey, especially when food is plentiful. It is not that different from when the military uses night vision goggles to make a surprise raid on the bad guys.
The long days give walleyes plenty of time to feed so they usually pick feeding times when there is a low light condition. During the hottest and brightest parts of the day the fish will rest.
If their prey can see them coming and take measures to avoid them, the walleyes have to expend more energy to feed. In those situations the walleyes have to feed longer and catch more prey to balance out the amount of energy they used to catch their prey.
Walleyes are basically lazy and want to use their eyesight and schooling nature when they feed so they can get the most food for the least amount of effort.
During the heat of summer, it is most efficient for walleyes to feed in the mornings and evenings or whenever there is a low light condition, rather than feeding in full sunlight.
Anglers have a couple of options if they insist on fishing for walleyes when the conditions are not favorable.
One option is to try and put a favored food right in front of the walleye’s face and make it too easy for the walleye to pass up the morsel. This usually means making multiple passes through schools of walleyes, trying to put their bait close enough to the right walleye that may be willing to bite.
Another option is to try for reflex bites from the walleyes. This usually means turning up the speed and ripping baits by the walleyes at a speed that forces the fish to make a split second decision to strike or let the potential prey escape.
Artificial lures like lipped minnow baits or other types of crankbaits are one option for reflex bites from walleyes. Another option is ripping jigs and plastics through the weeds or using spinner rigs and live bait at speeds somewhere between 1 and 2 miles per hour.
The water in the lakes is still very clear, which does not favor anglers fishing for walleyes during the day, especially if there is no wind or cloud cover to break the sunlight.
The clear water in the lakes also allows walleyes to be as deep or shallow as they want to be because the oxygen levels are still good at all depths in most lakes. This makes it tougher for anglers to find active walleyes because there is so much water to cover.
All species of fish are not as sensitive to light as walleyes and are more willing to feed in full sunlight.
Northern pike actually like full sunlight because it gives them shade in the weed beds and allows their camouflage to hide them as they wait in ambush positions for some desirable prey to get close.
Sunfish are also better suited for feeding in full sunlight. Instead of ambushing their prey, they hide in the weeds and use the shade to conceal them as they eat insects and other small bits of food hiding in the weeds.
Perch is another species that likes to feed in full sunlight. Perch feed in schools and want to be able to see the predators coming so they can take evasive measures to avoid getting eaten by a larger fish.
Bass are another day feeding predator that likes to use shade to hide them when they try to ambush their prey. They can stay cool in the shade while they wait for some suitable prey to get close enough to catch.
Muskies, walleyes and crappies are the species of fish most likely to feed under low light conditions, although all of the fish are never doing the same thing at the same time.
PAUL A. NELSON runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org