Snow and a hard frost continued to cool down lakes in the Bemidji area, with surface water temperatures in the low 50s or cooler.
Deep lakes will begin to turnover soon, which is nature’s way of fully oxygenating the lakes before winter arrives. The water in shallow lakes gets turned over periodically by the wind.
Anglers were catching some of the largest walleyes of the season before the temperatures dropped and the snow arrived. The bite for big walleyes should continue as soon as the weather stabilizes again.
Colder weather is expected to continue this week. Water temperatures will continue to drop until the lakes reach 40 degrees, which is the point where the lakes are ready to freeze.
Anglers are basically ice fishing from a boat during the cold water period, which usually lasts from October to April in the Bemidji area.
Most walleye anglers try to hover over the fish they see on sonar late in the season, which can be done manually or with a spot lock system on a trolling motor.
Anglers can also use a slow move and stop approach, moving a few feet down a productive breakline and stopping to fish again.
Anglers fishing for crappies usually cruise the edge of the basin looking for schools of suspended crappies on sonar. Once a school of fish is located, anglers usually mark them and then try to hold over the top of the fish with a trolling motor.
The goal for crappie anglers is to get small lures to fish in deep water, which can be a challenge in wind.
The boat needs to be held still enough for anglers to have enough control of their lures to get them at the same depth as the fish, which can be several feet or more off the bottom.
Tungsten is heavier (and more expensive) than lead, but keeps the lures smaller and helps get the lures to fish in deep water more quickly.
It is a huge advantage to be able to see your bait on sonar, just like it is during the winter, when most anglers use sonar in the same hole as their lure.
Anglers not sitting in the drivers’ seat usually can’t see their bait on the boat sonar, so they can bring their portable winter sonar and use it over the side of the boat. Just don’t forget the transducer in the water when you take off and try a new spot.
Crappies have eyes on the sides of their heads, so they see things to the side and above them better than they see things below them. Anglers usually need to keep their baits where the crappies can see them to catch fish.
If a crappie makes a move toward your lure, they usually bite unless the angler does something at the last second that looks wrong to the fish. It looks like the fish are always moving up to the bait on sonar, but it will look just the same way when a fish moves in from the side.
Anglers can use the same baits for crappies in the fall that they use during the winter. Some anglers even use ice fishing rods over the side of the boat, to keep their bait close to the boat, where it is easier to see on sonar.
Matching the weight line to the lure is critical to getting it to sink right. If anglers use 2 to 4 pound test line with smaller jigging spoons, jigs with plastics or jigging minnows, it makes them much easier to get down to fish in deep water.
Anyone interested in keeping Black Lake Road on the east side of Black Lake open and maintained by Turtle River Township can meet at the intersection of Black Lake Road and Bittersweet Road on Oct. 21 at 5:30 p.m. to make comments.
This road is one of only three ways to get access to Buena Vista Forest for hunting, hiking, ATV’s and other public uses of the forest.
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.