PAUL NELSON COLUMN: Summer fishing patterns emerge
The largest mayflies to hatch in the Bemidji area are the ones with the greenish tint that have been hatching recently. They are usually the last major insect hatch of the season, with minor insect hatches continuing periodically well into the fall.
It has taken a long time for surface water temperatures in the lakes to rise back to the point they were a few weeks into the 2018 fishing season.
Most lakes are approaching 70 degrees again, which is the point where summer fishing patterns start to kick-in on the lakes.
Summer fishing patterns mean spinner rigs, faster presentations, jigs and plastics, artificial lures and doing whatever else anglers can do to trigger more reflex bites from the fish.
Many anglers consider bottom bouncers and spinners to be their "go to" search lures for walleyes during the summer months.
Anglers can use spinning rods when fishing lighter sinkers in shallow water. Anglers fishing spinners in deeper water will need to use baitcasting rigs with rods heavy enough to support the bottom bouncers and spinners.
Line counter reels can be very helpful to make sure everyone in the boat is at the proper depth and distance from the boat. Some anglers like to let out so much line, the bottom bouncers drag on the bottom sideways.
A better idea is to let out line until the bottom bouncer just touches the bottom and then leave it there or maybe bring in a few feet of line.
This past week had some of the longest days of the year. The days will slowly begin to get shorter from this point until right before Christmas, when the days will begin to grow longer again.
Walleyes and other species have a long day to kill during the summer, while they wait for the conditions to become favorable for them to feed.
Fortunately for anglers, walleyes and other fish species can be opportunistic feeders, which makes them willing to feed at any time if they get a chance to eat a prefered food without exerting too much effort.
There are also reflex bites that occur when metabolisms are high and water clarity low, because the fish are constantly hungry in an environment where they can't see their prey from long distances away.
Spinners vibrate in the water, which can be felt by fish along their lateral line. If a fish can feel a spinner rig coming towards them from the vibrations and it passes close enough to them to catch, they have a split second to decide whether to chase the bait or let the bait pass by and lose the opportunity to feed.
UV colors can help fish target baits better because they are easier to see in water stained by peat bogs or algae blooms. Several anglers in a boat can try different colors of jigs or spinner blades and see what color gets the most bites.
Anglers can also try metallic colors, whether it is gold, silver, copper or plain lead or they can also try neutral colors like black and white.
The size spinner can also make a difference. Fish in most lakes in the Bemidji area tend to prefer smaller spinners, while anglers in the Great Lakes like to use huge spinners, with many spinners larger than the size of a quarter.
The amount of fishing pressure on a lake also has an impact on what type of spinners the fish like best. More pressure, smaller blades. Bigger fish, bigger blades. Darker water, bigger blades. Clear water, smaller blades with more metallic and less color usually working best.
Some anglers experiment with different patterns of beads, blades and hooks and make their own spinner rigs from components.
Most pre-packaged spinners have all the same color and size beads, only a few options for spinner color and the same oversized hooks.
It's much more fun to make your own patterns of beads and blades and come up with some color pattern that works better than the standard spinner rigs straight out of the package.
Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. Guided trips for 2018 can be booked by contacting email@example.com.