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Brad Laabs: High water can cause dramatic changes on area lakes

We have unusually high water on all our area lakes for this time of year. All the rivers all full and flowing hard. The ground is saturated and additional rain runs off now into all the creeks, streams and rivers.

This is a significant change over the last couple of summers and falls. We had low water conditions starting this time last year, and as low of lake levels as I can remember last fall. It doesn’t appear we are going to get the summertime evaporation and dry weather we have become accustomed to for our July — even with the projected warm up of the next two weeks. With the warming temperatures and high humidity, expect more thundershowers.

What does all of this mean to our lakes and our fishing? With the high water and the significant runoff, we will notice dramatic changes in water clarity on some of the area lakes. We will see a difference in algae blooms on some of our lakes. Weeds break loose, we can get floating weeds and even floating bogs on some lakes, especially if they have flowing rivers running into them.

You will notice a difference in lake structure that you have traditionally fished. It will be as much as three feet deeper on the top of mid-lake humps. Primary and secondary breaks are also at different depths than you may be familiar with for the structure you are fishing. Submergent weed growth will be at different depths than they typically are for this time of year. Some of the weed changes is due to the lake depths, and some will be affected by water clarity.

Fishing, or I should say, catching fish, is all about making adjustments. Adjust to what the conditions are and how they are effecting the fishes’ environment. Many times anglers will get caught up in fishing “spots” instead of fishing fish.

It is also easy to fall into the habit of fishing memories. Because they were here or there at this time last year doesn’t mean they will be in the same location and doing the same thing because the calendar is the same. Water temperatures, water clarity, depth, forage, and weather will have way more to do with what your fish are doing than the date on the calendar.

Keeping a log or journal of what you did, how it worked or didn’t, date, time, water clarity, weather conditions, wind speeds and direction, and water temperatures can help you tune into being able to reproduce past success. The calendar may be close to the same some years, but the right conditions are more important than the date. I kept rigorous logs some years ago, and really found that learning to pay attention to details helped me improve as an angler.

I could no doubt benefit by going back to that at times, but what I do have the benefit of referring back on now is several years of my guide schedule. I have been doing this for many years and I always keep the past two to three years of schedule as a handy reference guide. I have a good memory for trips and what happened, what conditions were like and am able to reference them to where things are at with varying lakes now.

After you do some journaling, you will develop a knack of paying attention. Pretty soon it just becomes integrated into your fishing instincts. You won’t need to keep the journal forever, it is just a process of helping formulate the detail to attention that will help you improve your catching success. Fishing is always fun…but catching fish makes it even that much more of an enjoyable pastime.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)

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