October arrives this weekend with no frost yet in most of Minnesota. Surface water temperatures in the local lakes remained in the 60s for most of September, which is very unusual for the Bemidji area. The thermocline is the thin layer of water between the warm water on the surface and the colder water on the bottom of the lakes. Once the water temperatures above the thermocline equalize with water temperatures immediately below the thermocline, the thermocline in the lakes will disappear. This usually happens as the water temperatures in the lakes dip into the 50s.
Surface water temperatures remain in the low- to mid-60s in most of the local lakes, which is warm for this point in the fall. The first frost hasn't happened yet in the Bemidji area. The extended forecast predicts the warm fall weather is likely to continue for at least another week, with no frost in sight. Most anglers don't mind the extended fall weather. Hunters on the other hand, may want to have a hard frost to kill off the mosquitos and knock down some of the leaves on the trees.
Summer wasn't quite ready to give up its grasp on the Bemidji area with temperatures reaching the 80s again this past week, maybe for the last time this year. Temperatures will dip cooler again this weekend, just in time for the 2017 Archery Deer opener on Saturday, Sept. 16. The hunting season also opens this Saturday for small game, Ruffed Grouse, Sharptail Grouse, Spruce Grouse, Hungarian Partridge and Sandhill Crane (NW Zone). The early goose season continues through this weekend, with the season closing Sunday, Sept. 18 after regular shooting hours.
With Labor Day weekend behind us, bear and early Canada goose hunting seasons are in full swing. Small game, grouse and archery deer season open Sept. 16. Surface water temperatures in the lakes spiked again last week, which stalled the fall fishing patterns that were beginning to set up in the lakes. Many species of fish begin to school tighter in the fall, with most of the forage species moving out of shallow cover and heading for deeper water to find new sources of food.
August is almost done, with fall just around the corner. Most resorts and other businesses involved in tourism consider Labor Day Weekend the end of the summer tourist season. Fall is the favorite time of year for many people who enjoy spending time outdoors. Most huntings seasons occur in the fall and most species of fish are active at a time when most lakes are sparsely populated with boats. Fall patterns in the lakes are based more on water temperatures than on the calendar.
Water temperatures in the lakes fluctuate during the entire open water portion of the season, roughly mirroring the weather patterns as they change from warm to cool and back to warm. The Bemidji area has had a series of cold fronts come through the area recently, which cooled down water temperatures in the lakes, but it is still mid-August, so another significant warm-up is almost certain.
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. Algae reduces visibility in the water and allows light sensitive species feed in shallower water, despite the bright sun and warmer water.
Surface water temperatures in the Bemidji area have been stalled in the mid-60s for the past couple of weeks, which is cooler than usual for this late in June. There are a few individual members of the sunfish family that didn’t spawn, which is not that unusual for species like crappies, sunfish and bass.
There are many seasons in a lifetime, but there is only one walleye opener per year in Minnesota. The big day is finally here, with the walleye season opening at 12:01 am on Saturday. Anglers are also allowed to fish for northern pike, sauger and trout in lakes when the season opens on Saturday. There are also special catch-and-release seasons for largemouth and smallmouth bass, so anglers should check the regulations if they have any questions. The weather was pretty stable this past week in the Bemidji area, which should help anglers have a good fishing opener on Saturday.
A return to cold weather in the Bemidji area included enough snow, rain and below freezing temperatures to drop surface water temperatures in most lakes from the low 50s to about 40 degrees, which is a significant drop in temperatures to the fish. Most crappies left the shallows and headed for deep water when the cold front hit. A good portion of the crappie population ended up hugging the bottom in water deeper than 20 feet, which was the warmest water they could find.