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PAUL NELSON FISHING: Anglers need to experiment to get the most bites

Paul Nelson

The cool nights help keep water temperatures in the lakes from getting even warmer, which would increase the possibility of a summer-kill as water temperatures near their likely highs for the summer.

There have been a few fish floating on the surface of the lakes recently, but a full out summer-kill on the cold water species would mean there would be tullibees and suckers floating all over the lakes and washing up on shore daily.

Summer-kill is nature’s way of keeping the larger forage species in check when there are not enough larger predators in the lakes to do the job.

The lakes have something called biomass, which is the total pounds of living things a lake is capable of supporting. The makeup of the biomass in a lake changes over time as the populations of fish living in the lake fluctuate.

Upper Red Lake is an excellent example of how biomass works. When the walleye numbers were way down in the late ’90s, the mother of all crappie spawns occured and filled the lake with crappies.

The epic crappie spawn in Upper Red Lake would not have happened if there wasn’t so much extra room in the biomass. The crappies just happened to be the species that was able to fill the gap first.  

A summer-kill would take out a good number of tullibees and suckers, which would leave more room in the biomass for some other species to fill, depending on who gets there first.

It would also help muskie anglers by taking out some of the extra forage in the lake, which might help make muskies more interested in anglers’ lures.

Weather patterns in Bemidji are hard to predict. The weather patterns tend to change abruptly, instead of a gradual change over a longer period of time.

If the current weather pattern is already cooling down going into August, summer-kill won’t be an issue this year. If there is another extended hot spell in the near future, a significant summer-kill would become much more likely.

The summer fishing patterns will continue as long as water temperatures remain elevated into the mid- to upper 70s.

Anglers have been catching walleyes on many different presentations, with the same thing going on for most species in the lakes.

Some anglers have been using night crawlers and spinners on slow death hooks for walleyes, while other anglers are using a two-hook spinner rigs. Both rigs can be pulled behind a 1- to 1½-ounce bottom bouncer.

There are also walleyes being caught on jigs tipped with leeches, minnows, night crawlers or plastics. Slip bobbers are also working as well as safety pin spinners or a plain hook with a twister tail and a light sinker.

Crankbaits and other lipped minnow baits are also working, with some anglers casting or straight line trolling, while other anglers are fishing deeper using lead core line, snap weights or downriggers.

Anglers need to experiment and try different things to see what is triggering the most bites. Summer is the time of year for anglers to throw the whole tackle box at the fish and see what happens.

Lake of the Woods continues to be hot for walleyes, with many anglers using spinners rigs and nightcrawlers on bottom bouncers near structure or along the shoreline break.

Anglers have also been trolling crankbaits on leadcore or with downriggers in 24-32 feet of water in LOW in the basin areas holding scattered schools of baitfish.

This is a good time of the year for anglers to use a multi-species approach to fishing. Anglers can be ready for whatever happens by having several different rods rigged ahead of time for the different species of fish they may run into in the lake they are fishing.

Walleye fishing can be great when they are actively feeding, but it can be like pulling teeth when they are inactive because of the weather conditions and time of day.

There is a time and place for everything, but sometimes the conditions say “take a break from walleye fishing and try something else.”

Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. Guided trips for 2018 can be booked at panelsonbemidji@gmail.com.

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