Paul Nelson writes a weekly fishing column for the Bemidji Pioneer. He runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service.
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BEMIDJI -- The month with the warmest average temperatures in the Bemidji area is July, followed by August as the second warmest month of the year. The first high temperatures in the 80’s this summer have helped push the surface water temperatures in the lakes into the mid 70s. The algae blooms in the lakes are becoming more visible, with a green tint starting to show in some lakes.
Bemidji is one of the premier fishing destinations for anglers from all over the country.
The average ice-out date for Lake Bemidji is April 26, which is similar to many of the other large lakes in the Bemidji area. Lake Minnetonka was declared ice free on April 5 this year.
April has arrived and there is still ice on the lakes in the Bemidji area. The ice fishing season should be listed as day to day, with the end of the season going into overtime. Rain and warmer weather melted more of the ice on the lakes this past week. The extended forecast is predicting freezing overnight temperatures into next week, so anglers still should be able to get on a few lakes for at least one more weekend. Anglers need to constantly re-evaluate the ice conditions, even while they are on the ice.
Cold temperatures have slowed down the melting process on the lakes. This has extended the ice fishing season at least one more weekend for those anglers who just can't get enough. There is still more than 26 inches of ice away from the shoreline on most lakes. The ice is soaking up more water on the bottom of the ice, but there is still more than a foot of solid ice sandwiched between the top and bottom layers in most areas. A few accesses have had too much traffic and are breaking up, but there is often more than one way to get on most lakes.
The meltdown of the lakes in the Bemidji area slowed down this week, with the return to more "normal" temperatures for this time of year. There is still plenty of ice away from the shoreline on most lakes, but the ice along the shoreline is degrading from all the melting snow and ice. The old snow cover is gone from the lakes, but the below freezing overnight temperatures this past week have helped stabilize the ice conditions on the lakes.
Lakes in the Bemidji area have been in meltdown mode this past week, with the arrival of much warmer temperatures across Minnesota. There is still a lot of ice away from the shoreline, so the critical part of extending the ice fishing season is how well the accesses are holding up. The lakes need to continue to freeze at night to firm up the ice or the season may end prematurely.
It has been an unusual winter in the Bemidji area. The winter got off to an early start in November, with anglers able to get on the lakes more than a week earlier than most years. The amount of snow so far this winter has been minimal, with good ice conditions all winter. Anglers have been able to go just about anywhere they wanted on the lakes this winter. Admittedly, it is still early March. There is still plenty of time for more than one major snowstorm before winter is over. January is usually the coldest month of the year of the year in the Bemidji area.
Cold temperatures and little snow cover have had lakes in the Bemidji area making ice at a time when the ice should be beginning to melt. The ice is thick enough on most lakes to make an auger extension a good idea. Anglers want to avoid having to bottom out their augers trying to get through the ice. The season is closed for gamefish in the inland waters of Minnesota, but many of the border waters have extended seasons for gamefish.
The 35th annual Eelpout Festival begins Friday on Walker Bay of Leech Lake and runs through Sunday. The festivities are headquartered in City Park in Walker, but the huge number...