Sooner or later, the fall cool down will begin. The first hints will be a few days with highs in the 60s and a few nights with lows dipping into the 40s.
There are typically a few “false starts” when the fall cool down begins. Some people may think “maybe this is it” when the false starts begin to happen, but when it is the real thing, almost everybody will know about it pretty quickly.
People who have gardened for many years in the Bemidji area or people who are older and have good memories may remember the first frost of the season often happened in late August or early September in the early to mid-80s.
Close to 40 years later, the first frosts have been happening almost a full month later, with the first frost often happening in late September or early October.
The same people may remember how the farmers crops have also changed. You rarely saw anyone trying to grow field corn around Bemidji in the 80s, but now there are beautiful looking fields of corn all around town that grow a good crop.
Gardeners at the farmers market have been able to successfully grow things like celery in the Bemidji area, which usually requires at least a 100-day growing season.
There are “new normals” everywhere in life as a person ages. The lakes and environment are also changing and establishing new normals, too.
Many changes have been brought on by invasive species in the lakes and increasing average temperatures worldwide are making significant changes in the environment.
July 2019 was the hottest month on record on Earth. There is admittedly a much longer history of undocumented temperatures, so the easy answer is it must have done this before at some point in history and everything turned out fine.
The real point is it is happening right now. Some of us may not get to see how this story ends, but our children and grandchildren likely will.
This should be cause for concern for everyone, although some people choose to deny the science or say the problem is hopeless, so why try to make changes if the rest of the world isn’t doing it. Someone has to lead for others to follow.
Fish are affected by the heat, too. It is not only extreme temperatures that affect the fish, but how long the water temperatures stay elevated. It is like the winter-stress deer formula that takes into account the number of days with cold temperatures and deep snow.
The clear water in the lakes has made walleyes extremely spooky during the day, with fish visible on the first pass, but they often scatter and disappear after as little as one pass through the area.
Vegetation is becoming more important during the summer because fish use it for cover and shade and also for producing oxygen. It also holds baitfish and other things like crayfish and insects, which are key forage for most species during the summer.
Stained lakes like Lake of the Woods and Upper Red Lake have had the most consistent walleye bites this summer because the colored water lets walleyes feed longer during the day.
Lakes with an algae bloom have been hit and miss for walleyes. Some days the fish bite, usually on days with wind and cooler temperatures. On days with no wind and hot temperatures, fishing for walleyes can still be brutal during the day.
Some walleyes have been moving on top of structure when the conditions are favorable, but many times the fish have been holding off the sides of structure in a negative or neutral feeding mood during the day..
Anglers can catch some walleyes on bottom bouncers and spinner rigs and other presentations when the fish are not actively feeding, but it usually takes many passes through an area or just the right cast to put the bait close enough to the couple of fish that might be willing to bite.
Paul A. Nelson runs the Bemidji Area Lakes Guide Service. Guided trips for 2019 can be booked by calling or texting 218-760-7751 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.