Water temperatures likely near their peak for the season
Surface water temperatures in the Bemidji area are holding steady in the low to mid 70s, which is near the high point for the summer in most lakes.
Weed beds in most lakes are fully mature and have reached the surface of the water. Aquatic plants need to be pollinated in the air, just like plants on land. Once the weeds reach the surface and get pollinated, they pull back from the surface and begin to form seeds.
In the fall, the tops of the weed beds get broken off by the waves. The seeds get blown around the lake, which reseeds the old weed beds and helps establish new beds in the lake.
Despite the late algae bloom in the lakes this summer, oxygen levels remain high below the thermocline in most lakes.
Anglers may have noticed the lack of a summer-kill this year for cold water species like suckers and tulibees. This is an indication of adequate oxygen levels below the thermocline in the coldest portion of the lakes.
During hot summers, cold water species living below the thermocline are forced into the warmer water above the thermocline when oxygen levels get too low for them to stay in their preferred temperature range.
The move into warmer water often kills a portion of the weak, old or injured fish, which helps control over population of the cold water species.
The cool weather this summer has helped keep oxygen levels within tolerable levels in deep water, so there has been very little summer-kill in the Bemidji area lakes this year.
Fishing has been best on days with stable weather, with the frequent wind shifts making it difficult for anglers trying to establish consistent fishing patterns.
Most lakes in the Bemidji area fish best with a south wind, with fishing improving each day the wind stays from the same direction.
Walleye action has been picking up on Lake Bemidji, Winnibigoshish and Upper Red Lake, but has been a little slower on Leech Lake and Cass Lake, partly due to clearer water conditions on those lakes.
There are anglers using many different presentations for walleyes with varying degrees of success. Some anglers are using crankbaits to find active walleyes. Once some fish are located, anglers have the option of slowing down and using live bait rigs to try catch more of the active fish.
Other walleye anglers are using spinners on live bait rigs, tipped with leeches, night crawlers or minnows. Anglers using spinners can fish with a bullet sinker and short line the rigs in shallow water or they can use bottom bouncers with spinner rigs to fish in deeper water.
Safety spin spinners with hair jigs or twister tails will catch a variety of fish, especially when tipped with a piece of night crawler.
The Lake Bemidji rig is a single hook spinner with a white or glow twister tail. Many anglers fish the rig without bait, but anglers can add a piece of night crawler or a fathead minnow to the presentation to add some scent.
Crappies are usually most active in early and late in the day, with anglers able to find suspended fish near structure that will often bite on a presentation at or slightly above eye level.
Perch anglers are catching fish on shallow flats covered with chara or broken rock. Perch like a varied diet similar to walleyes, with crayfish and minnows both important items in their diet.
Sunfish and bass have also been biting during the day. Bass often stay in heavy cover, often between weed types or weeds associated with rocks.
Bluegills have been biting on the edges of heavy weed growth. Anglers usually have to present their baits in a tight zone to catch sunfish because they are uncomfortable straying too far from cover.
Muskies and northern pike have been active in most lakes on the deep edge of the weed beds. Algae in the water makes it more difficult for anglers to see follows from muskies and it also means lures have to pass closer to the fish for them to be able to see it.
Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. He can be contacted by calling 218-759-2235.