The lakes have remained a week or two behind all summer, which has changed the timing of many summer fishing patterns this year.
Surface water temperatures in most lakes just passed the mid-70s and are likely getting close to their peak for the summer as the end of July approaches.
The oxygen levels still seem to be good in the lakes, with very few dead fish floating on the surface of the lakes.
There can be a delayed mortality on fish in the heat of summer. Any injuries the fish get from getting caught have to heal fast enough for them to resume normal feeding patterns quickly.
Fish may have delayed mortality from catch and release during the warmest parts of the summer because their elevated metabolism doesn’t allow them to stop feeding for any extended period of time.
Anglers need to take note of this and resist the urge to catch and release huge numbers of fish if they stumble on a good bite.
It is harder for fish to recover from being caught when the water is warmer than when cold. Anglers have to take it easy on the fish during the heat of summer, especially larger walleyes and muskies, which need to be released as quickly and gently as possible.
The good news is the bite is slowly picking up for walleyes in most larger lakes. The walleyes are spread out all over the lakes, with small to medium sized schools of fish in the weeds, on top of structures and holding off the sides of structures.
Anglers need to evaluate the conditions each day and decide which locations make the most sense. Patterning fish is a necessary task every time anglers are on the lakes.
Once a pattern has been established, anglers can look for other similar areas in the lakes that might also be holding active fish.
Fishing pressure can be a big factor on fish location on heavily pressured lakes. If someone hammers the fish one day, catching and releasing many fish beyond what they are keeping, don’t expect to be able to return to the same location in several days and have similar results.
There are many different presentations that will work to catch walleyes and other species of fish right now.
Walleye anglers fishing with bottom bouncers and spinners can use fixed sinker bottom bouncers or the slide sinker bottom bouncers, depending on preference. Bullet sinkers will also work when fishing shallow.
There is nearly an infinite number of combinations for spinners rigs that anglers can dream up with very few rules. Slow death hooks or double hook rigs are most common for spinner rigs.
The double hook rigs are usually saved for nightcrawlers. Anglers can put the front hook in the nose and the back hook halfway up the nightcrawler, making sure it is hanging straight on the hooks.
Anglers can also put a larger leech on the front hook, with the back hook acting as a un-attached stinger hook. A smaller leech can be put on each hook, making it look like a larger leech to the walleyes when it moves by them.
Most anglers use at least three beads above the hooks before adding the spinner blade. Anglers can experiment with different color patterns of beads and styles and colors of blades to come up with their own combinations .
Anglers can also buy many different styles of prepackaged spinner rigs. Anglers have been catching walleyes on spinners for decades and they are still one of the all time most popular methods for catching summer walleyes.
Artificial lures will also catch summer walleyes. Anglers can have good success fishing winter style jigging minnows for walleyes. Crankbaits and minnow stick baits work trolling or casting.
Sometimes somebody tries something new and hits the jackpot. A western reservoir walleye tournament was recently won on bass spinner baits slow trolled through deep submerged trees.
Jigs and plastics or slip bobbers and leeches will also catch walleyes all summer long.
Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. He can be contacted by text or phone at 218-760-7751 or by email at email@example.com.