In the last week, water temperatures have dropped about 10 degrees due to the rain and cold front conditions we have experienced.
Surface temps are now in the mid to high 70-degree range. The lakes will warm during the day now, and cool off at night due to the significant difference in daytime highs and the overnight lows.
The lower early morning water temps make it easier for catching and successfully releasing fish. Icing live wells will continue to be a good idea to keep fish fresh until surface temperatures are consistently below 70 degrees. Look for all species of fish to continue in the summer patterns they have established for at least the next month or so.
If you have found a pattern for consistently catching the fish you are targeting, look for that pattern to continue to be successful for a while. Fishing is a very weather dependent sport, so cool and cold fronts will put the brakes on your success. Pre-frontal conditions will have your fish more active, but the period after thundershowers or a cold front will put fish in a very neutral to negative feeding mood, and significantly reduce your catch rate.
The bright clear skies with light winds and comfortable air temperatures that follow the cold front are known as “bluebird days” and can be as challenging to catch fish as the cold front itself. As weather stabilizes, look for the bite to improve. Most times the smaller fish get active first as their metabolism requires them to get busy. The nicer/larger fish will follow as they can hold out longer until needing to feed more aggressively.
Cloud cover and wind are your friend for chasing summertime walleyes. Walleyes’ advantage over their prey is their ability to see in dim light conditions. The wind creates “walleye chop” that breaks up light penetration and cloud cover obviously reduces light levels.
Northern and bass are more likely to continue feeding activity in bright conditions. A good rule of thumb for all species when it comes to jig or lure selection is to stick to bright colors on bright days and darker colors on dark days. On clear water lakes, the natural and brighter colors will typically have more success than the darker colors. On the stained waters, most anglers like to use bright colors or even glow colors. Yes, they have a proven track record, but it is amazing to me how successful darker colored jigs can be most of the time. You have to try darker jigs in these stained waters to see for yourself.
Fishing is a lot of trial and error, practice, practice, and more practice to become more consistent. The good days motivate getting through the slower days, to get to another one of the good days. Get out and enjoy the area lakes and practice your fishing. Remember to clean, drain, and dry!
(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)