Paul Nelson writes a weekly fishing column for the Bemidji Pioneer. He runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service.
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Deer hunters are eagerly anticipating Saturday morning, when the Minnesota rifle deer season will open a half-hour before sunrise in most of Minnesota. Most of the Bemidji area is in Zone 1A, which opens Nov. 5 and runs until Nov. 20, which gives local hunters two weeks and three weekends to get their deer.
There is only one more week before the Minnesota Rifle Deer Season begins. The season opens in most of Minnesota on Nov. 5. Until then, there are still quite a few anglers on the lakes in the Bemidji area because of the mild weather.
The fall cool down in the Bemidji area lakes continues as the days get shorter and the nights get colder. Most of the local lakes now have surface water temperatures in the mid-50s, so the lakes have about 15 more degrees to cool before the lakes are ready to begin freezing. The "cold water period" in the lakes begins once the lakes reach between 39 and 40 degrees, which is the point where water is most dense. Water cooler than 40 degrees will float on top of the 40 degree water and eventually freeze and turn into ice.
The fall cool down continues in the Bemidji area, with surface water temperatures in most lakes dropping to the low to mid 60s. The peak fall fishing is upon us, so the time is now to get out on the lakes. Many areas in Northern Minnesota were hit by frost for the first time in the past week, so the trees are quickly starting to turn colors in the Bemidji area. Many times strong winds from a storm will blow the leaves off of the trees prematurely, so don't wait to take time to view the fall leaves or the opportunity may be lost for another year.
The September full moon is today. There should be a few extra boats on area lakes at night this weekend, with anglers fishing for big walleyes or trophy muskies.
Labor Day Weekend is the last big weekend of the summer tourist season in the Bemidji area. If the weather cooperates, the lakes should be extra busy for one last weekend of summer. The warm late summer weather held through another week, with surface water temperatures in most lakes still in the low 70s. Some of the fall changes in the lakes are already starting to happen, and the changes will intensify as the water temperatures drop below 70.
Warm summer days with highs in the 80s are absent from the extended forecast through next week, and they could be almost done for the summer. The last half of August and the first part of September can still get pretty warm, but there are already signs of fall creeping up on us from all directions. Surface water temperatures in most lakes are still in mid 70s, but those temperatures are likely to begin dropping starting this weekend.
This is a good time to be on the lakes if you want to catch a muskie. The first real hot weather of the summer usually triggers an algae bloom in the lakes and provides anglers with a short window of opportunity while muskies adjust to the sudden drop in water clarity.
The Fourth of July weekend is one of the busiest on the lakes in the Bemidji area. Anglers will be sharing the lakes with pleasure crafts of all kinds this weekend, especially if the weather cooperates. Surface water temperatures in the lakes finally exceeded 70 degrees this week. The surface water temperatures reflect the average of the daily high temperatures and the overnight low temperatures.
The summer solstice means these are the longest days of the year. The long days give the fish plenty of time to feed, so they don’t need to feed when the conditions are not favorable for whatever skills they use to catch their prey. The most efficient approach is for fish to rest during the part of the day when the conditions are not in their favor and wait to get active until the conditions are in their favor.