Paul Nelson writes a weekly fishing column for the Bemidji Pioneer. He runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service.
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The first weekend of the rifle deer season is behind us, with a good opening weekend for many hunters in the Bemidji area. Snow on the ground makes it easier for hunters to see the deer signs, so hunters know where the deer have been moving at night. The full moon this past weekend gave the deer plenty of light to see at night, with the deer actively in the rut over the weekend.
The rifle deer season begins on Saturday morning, Nov. 4. This should be a good year for local hunters to have success and put some venison in the freezer for the winter. Hunters in section 184, which includes most of the Bemidji area, are allowed to harvest either sex deer this season because of a forecast surplus of deer in the region.
Winter is coming. The fall cool down just got more serious late this week, with hard frosts forecast nightly in the extended forecast. Any lake that hadn’t gone through turnover yet was going through turnover this week. Turnover is when the colder water on the surface of the lakes becomes heavier and more dense than the warmer water on the bottom of the lake, so water on the surface starts to sink.
The October full moon was Thursday night, but anglers are able to have good success fishing walleyes at night several days before and after the full moon, so the opportunity should extend at least through this weekend. Night fishing is not for everyone, but with the zebra mussels expanding to more lakes, the trend of fishing for walleyes at night is just going to get more prevalent in the future. Trolling or casting floating minnow baits that dive just below the surface is the presentation most walleye anglers use at night.
September is here, with one last big weekend of summer before the unofficial beginning of fall in the Bemidji area. A warm weekend would have meant a busy weekend on the lakes, but cooler temperatures will likely mean more people will stay off the lakes and concentrate on getting their cabins ready for winter.
When you have as many distinctly different types of lakes as the Bemidji Area, anglers have an almost an unlimited playing field if they want to learn how to fish different bodies of water for different species of fish. Most of the lakes with zebra mussels are the larger lakes with the most fishing pressure, mostly from walleye anglers. Any smaller lakes infested with zebra mussels are usually on a chain of lakes downstream from one of the larger, infested walleye lakes.
Summer patterns continue to control the lakes in the Bemidji area, but there are stark differences between lakes with zebra mussels and those without the invasive pests. Algae blooms and elevated water temperatures allow species such as walleyes to move on top of structures during the day to feed in lakes with enough algae bloom in the water to cut down the sunlight.
The second half of July is often a good window of opportunity for anglers wanting for catch a big muskie out of lakes in the Bemidji area. Large female muskies usually spend the "post spawn" portion of the season suspended over deeper water while they recover from the spawn. Many muskies stay suspended over deeper water until surface water temperatures reach the mid 70s, which is just happening in the lakes right now. .
Summer finally reached the Bemidji area this past week, with some of the hottest temperatures of the season. Summers are short in the Bemidji area, with July usually the hottest month and August the second-hottest month in an average year. Surface-water temperatures in the local lakes have passed the 70 degree mark, with most now in the low 70s. Summer patterns start to take over the lakes once water temperatures exceed 70.
June was a cool and wet month in the Bemidji area, while most of the country to the south and west of Minnesota have had abnormally hot temperatures this month. But July arrives this weekend, with the 4th of July holiday happening during the week this year. This gives many people the opportunity to take an extended holiday by only taking three days off of work. The weather will impact how busy the lakes will be this week. Some good weather could make the lakes very busy with anglers and pleasure boaters taking their summer vacations.