Spring is here, at least on the calendar. Hopefully, spring is not too far behind on the lakes and rivers in the Bemidji area. The time between ice fishing and open water is usually seamless in the Bemidji area. There are always some lakes that are still being ice fished by the time the Rainy River is ready for open water fishing. The amount of open water in the Rainy River is expanding every day. The river is open well past the Birchdale Access, with the Frontier Access likely to be open by this weekend or early next week.
The season for walleyes, northern pike and sauger closed this past weekend on the Inland Lakes of Minnesota. Anglers wanting to continue to fish for species such as crappies, sunfish, perch, whitefish and eelpout will need to purchase new 2017 Minnesota Fishing Licenses, which went into effect Wednesday. Anglers are asked to consider purchasing an optional walleye stamp when they buy their 2017 fishing licenses. The funds generated by the walleye stamps are earmarked for stocking more walleyes in Minnesota lakes.
There was a lot of melting on lakes in the Bemidji area this past week. Warm temperatures and rain took a toll on the ice, but cooler temperatures this weekend and into next week should help refreeze the surface of the lakes. The gamefish portion of the fishing season for the inland lakes of Minnesota closes on Sunday, Feb. 26, at midnight.
Anglers have been enjoying the warmer temperatures this past week in the Bemidji area. The average temperatures for this time of the year are highs in the upper teens, with lows a couple of degrees below zero. The snow on the lakes continues to compact during the days with highs above freezing. The fresh water flowing into the lakes triggers more activity from everything under the ice.
BEMIDJI—Lakes in the Bemidji area cooled a little slower this past week, with most lakes still having surface water temperatures around 50 degrees. This gives the lakes about 10 more degrees to cool before the lakes are ready to freeze. The water under the ice during the winter is between 39 and 40 degrees, with the ice floating on top of the lakes.
Lakes in the Bemidji area enter the second half of October with surface water temperatures falling through the 50-degree mark. Water temperatures reflect the average air temperatures, so the lakes cool down closely in sync with soil temperatures in the ground. Water becomes progressively more dense as it cools until it reaches its most dense point. Water is densest (heaviest) between 39 and 40 degrees.
Cool temperatures, strong winds and intermittent rain kept many anglers off the lakes earlier this week, but it looks like there will be better weather this weekend for those wanting to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Surface water temperatures in the lakes continue to drop, with most lakes dipping below 60 degrees this past week. Cooling water temperatures allow the fish to be in almost any depth -- depending on the lake and where the fish can find a reliable food source.
Schools and colleges throughout most of the country are now in session for the fall semester, with most of the fall sports seasons already underway. Several hunting seasons opened on Sept. 1 including bear hunting. Small game, grouse and archery deer hunting open next weekend (Sept. 17). The shorter days, combined with all the outside activities and chores to do in the fall, create a good amount of competition for time for many people.
There’s only one more weekend in August, with Labor Day always set for the first Monday in September. Summer managed to kick out two more hot and windy days with highs in the 80s this past week, which kept surface water temperatures in the lakes in the low to mid 70s. The surface water temperatures should finally be trending down this week, with predicted highs in the 60s and 70s and lows in the 50s, which is actually just about perfect for anyone spending time outdoors.
Anglers are finding walleyes in many lakes have moved back into less than 15 feet of water as surface water temperatures in the lakes reach the upper 70s. Walleyes like to feed on a mixture of prey whenever possible. Most walleyes in the Bemidji area have perch as a staple in their diets, but they like to supplement their diets with as much variation as possible.