Memorial Day Weekend is historically one of the busiest fishing weekends of the year in the Bemidji area. It is also the unofficial beginning of the tourist season in Minnesota. Water temperatures in the local lakes are increasing quickly. The fast rise in water temperatures speeds up the process for all fish species that haven't finished spawned yet, which includes spottail shiners.
The first week of the 2018 fishing season has seen water temperatures rising quickly across the Bemidji area. Most of the early spawning fish have completed their spawn and they are in the recovery mode. Males can resume normal feeding patterns in days, while females can take a week or more before they resume normal feeding patterns. Anglers should see steady improvement in the second week of the season as the post-spawn walleyes begin to spread out into the lakes.
Happy Mothers Day! The 2018 Fishing Season is open across Minnesota. Many anglers that were on the water Saturday will be staying home today or taking their "mom" fishing. Water temperatures are still pretty cold as far as openers go, with surface water temperatures in the mid-40s in most of the local lakes. There were still ice chunks on a few lakes like Lake of the Woods and Leech Lake when the season opened, but anglers were able to find plenty places to go fishing.
With about a week to go before the 2018 Minnesota Walleye Opener, the melting on the Bemidji area lakes continues. The conditions have been good for melting this past week, with open water on more lakes every day. It looks like most of the area lakes should be ice free by the time the walleye season opens, although some lakes will likely be opening up with little time to spare.
The hot topic with many anglers is whether there will be ice on the lakes when the walleye season opens on May 12. It would be safe to say at this point, "if" there is going to be open water when the walleye season opens, some of the first lakes to be ice-free will include Upper Red Lake, Lake Irving, Blackduck, Cutfoot Sioux, Andrusia and Kitchi. There will also be open water in virtually all of the rivers and streams, with the Rainy River one of the more popular destinations during late springs.
Spring arrived on the calendar this year long before it actually arrived in the Bemidji area. The spring meltdown is just starting now, with the race for open water before the walleye season begins too close to call at this point. The ice on most lakes in the Bemidji area is still thick enough to need an auger extension to get through the ice in many areas. The average ice auger can drill through almost 30 inches of ice without an extension, so there is a lot of ice to melt on the lakes before the walleye season opens May 12.
The elephant in the room turns out to be a white elephant. Most residents of Bemidji are probably very sick of snow and cold by now and would really like to see some warmer weather as soon as possible. There is a very good chance there will still be ice on many of the local lakes when the walleye season opens May 12, unless there are some drastic changes in the weather pattern soon. The average ice out date for Lake Bemidji is April 26, with the earliest recorded ice out on April 2, 2012, and the latest recorded ice out date on May 22, 1950.
Winters are long enough in the Bemidji area without any bonus time. This winter is turning out to be at least a month longer than last year, with the cold weather extending well into April with no real end in sight. This coming week is the last week of the spring walleye season on Rainy River, with significant parts of the river still locked up with ice. It would take a drastic change in the weather pattern to open up the river all the way to Lake of the Woods before the season ends on April 14.
There will definitely be ice fishing in April in most of northern Minnesota this year, and this is not an April Fools' Day joke. Colder temperatures this past week have slowed down the melt on the lakes and has once again extended the ice fishing season. The accesses on the lakes are the first places to go during the meltdown because the standing water washes off dirt and salt from the vehicles, which speeds up the melting process.
Spring arrived on the calendar this past week, but it still looks more like winter than spring in the Bemidji area. Anglers are usually fishing out of boats on the Rainy River by this time of year, but the ice pack was still several miles east of Birchdale this week. Anglers are still a week or more away from fishing the Rainy River, with the first week of April likely when the first anglers will be able to get their boats into the Rainy River.