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PAUL NELSON FISHING: Typical mid-summer cool down is here

Paul Nelson

August has arrived with more summer-like weather, after a mid-summer cool down that had surface water temperatures in the lakes falling.

It's a typical weather pattern for Bemidji to have a brief mid-summer cool down in late July, before more "Minnesota Hot" (anything warmer than 80 degrees) weather returns for August and early September.

One benefit of the cool down was setting back the chances for a summer-kill in the lakes, by dropping surface water temperatures into the low 70s again.

Fish are spread out into all parts of the lakes by the time August arrives. Most walleyes are using the "main lake" portion of the larger lakes, rather than the shallow bays.

Schooling fish tend to spread out in shallow water and go off foraging on their own in the same general area as the other fish in the school.

Schooling fish like walleyes tend to school tighter when they feed in deeper water, usually so they can herd the schools of baitfish together and work as a team.

Walleyes in deep lakes can be located anywhere from the inside edge of the weedline all the way down to the top edge of the thermocline.

This means anglers searching for fish while trolling bottom bouncers and spinners need to cover a lot of water to catch fish.

It helps to fish areas where anglers can make longer trolling passes while zig-zagging up and down the breakline, until they find fish at a certain depth.

Anglers can also run areas with their electronics to find pods of walleyes and then try work them over by casting jigs or using slip bobber rigs with leeches.

Regardless of the approach, anglers will likely have to find multiple pods of walleyes in order to catch a few fish for dinner.

Smart anglers play the odds and wait for low light conditions to fish for walleyes. The full moon this past week was a good example of a time when anglers can catch walleyes after dark simply by trolling floating minnow baits or other shallow diving crankbaits in 5 to 8 feet of water.

Many anglers have been using spinner rigs of various kinds to catch walleyes during the day. The new butterfly-style spinners turn at a slower speed than other spinners and they have been working well for both "eater-size" walleyes and larger fish.

Anglers using bottom bouncers want to match the speed they are going with the proper weight sinker, to be able to keep the bottom bouncer close to a 45-degree angle under the boat.

Letting out too much line can lay the sinker on its side and cause the spinner and the hooks to drag on the bottom.

Line counter reels can really help anglers get their presentations "dialed in", so they can match what they are doing with all of the rods in the boat, once a pattern has been established.

Anglers can get up to speed with the boat and then let out line until they they hit the bottom, then take a little line back so the sinker makes occasional contact with the bottom, but does not constantly drag on the bottom and turn on its side.

Having several anglers in the boat with different spinner rigs and baits can help anglers figure out what the walleyes want, so they can put the hot bait on most or all of the lines.

Once anglers get things dialed in, they can concentrate on a specific depth with a certain color and style spinner, with the right kind of bait and the right amount of line let out on all the reels, to maximize the number of bites they get on all of the rods.

Lake of the Woods continues to have the hottest walleye bite in the area, but the windy days, especially those from a northerly direction can make fishing almost impossible.

Both Lake of the Woods and Upper Red Lake are best on the calm days with light winds and smaller waves, so the water does not get so churned up.

Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. Guided trips for the 2018 season can be booked at