The firearms deer season is over in the Bemidji area, but bow hunters are allowed to continue deer hunting until Dec. 31. There are also an increasing number of deer hunters who prefer the solitude of hunting later in the season and will hunt the muzzleloader deer season, which begins Saturday and runs through Dec. 13. Deer hunting with a muzzleloader is a one-shot proposition, much like hunting with a crossbow or compound bow. Hunters use open sights on muzzleloaders and have to reload the gun after each shot.
This is the last weekend of the 2015 Minnesota rifle deer season, which ends at sunset on Sunday. The first two weekends of the season were unseasonably warm, but this weekend should be much more like what hunters are used to from past deer seasons. Deer harvest numbers were up early in the season. With a strong finish this weekend, the deer harvest numbers for 2015 should be up over 2014, when approximately 139,000 deer were harvested.
The first weekend of the rifle deer season was warm enough to allow most deer hunters to sit in their stands much longer than usual without getting cold. The forecast for the second weekend of the rifle season is almost as warm as the first weekend, with high temperatures expected to exceed 50 degrees again. The warm weather is helping hunters have a good start to the season, with more than 68,000 deer harvested statewide during the first three days of the season.
It would be hard to complain about the length of summer this year in the Bemidji area. Many areas just got their first killing frost of the fall in the second week of October. Surface water temperatures in the lakes continue to drop slowly, with most lakes in the mid 50s. This means most lakes still have about 15 more degrees to drop before they hit 40 degrees and are ready to begin freezing. Location is one of the key factors to catching fish under any circumstances, but this is especially true in the fall.
Another warm week in the Bemidji area has kept the surface water temperatures in the lakes hovering around the 70 degree mark, which is not typical for the third week in September. There is still no frost in the extended forecast for the Bemidji area, so the lakes will continue to cool slowly for at least another week and maybe longer. Virtually all species of fish are driven mostly by water temperature, but the declining amount of sunlight during the day lets the fish know the seasons are about to change, even if the water temperatures are telling them it is still summer. The thermocline i
A cool week in the Bemidji area kept surface water temperatures in the mid to high 60s, which will extend the shallow walleye bite in many lakes. Walleyes have been spreading out into the lakes ever since the spottail shiners finished spawning and backed out of the shallows.
The spawn for crappies, sunfish, bass and muskies this year has been drawn out by a couple of drops in water temperatures that happened just as the lake water was getting warm enough for the fish to move into the shallows. Most crappies, bass, sunfish and muskies that waited to spawn were spawning this past week. Once the fish are done spawning, they will move to deeper water, which may only mean moving from the inside edge of the weeds to the outside edge of the weedline.
The last fishing opener in the spring is the muskie opener, which happens this Saturday. Anglers will now be able to target any species of fish in the lakes. Even though muskies have a low rate of spawning success, they still try to spawn each spring.
The “fish fly” hatches have begun in the Bemidji area. One of the earliest major hatches of fish flies are midges, which is the adult phase of blood worms. Blood worms live in the mud basin of the lakes along with dozens of species of dragonflies, several varieties of mayflies and many other varieties of aquatic insects.
When the weather changes in the Bemidji area, it really changes. Bemidji was locked into a dry pattern since last fall that continued through the winter and lasted up until opening day of the walleye season. The surface water temperatures in the lakes were in the high 50s and everything was beginning to happen in the lakes.