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All fish use weeds for numerous purposes.  This beautiful Long Lake walleye was roaming in 16 feet of water, tight against a deep weedline.  Some fish use weeds to hide from predators, while others use the weeds to hide before ambushing prey. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)
All fish use weeds for numerous purposes. This beautiful Long Lake walleye was roaming in 16 feet of water, tight against a deep weedline. Some fish use weeds to hide from predators, while others use the weeds to hide before ambushing prey. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Target weeds over the Fourth

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outdoors Park Rapids, 56470

Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

By Jason Durham / For the Enterprise

Even though the 4th of July is quickly approaching, water temperatures aren’t overly elevated. This bodes well for fish since high temperature can contribute to mortality, especially in situations where the fish experience stress, like after a long battle with an angler.

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The current surface temperatures on our local lakes isn’t far off from what would be considered normal for this time of year, but surface temperature can change fairly rapidly and can increase or decrease by several degrees in a single day. Wind, sun and rain can all contribute to rapid changes in surface temperature.

Yet the water temperature below the surface heats and cools much more slowly. Fish can adapt to minor changes in water temperatures but a major swing in water temperature can prove to be fatal since they’re cold blooded.

Going into the holiday week, anglers may have the notion that fishing during the day is going to be futile, especially since it’s likely that the number of recreational boaters on the lakes will increase. In reality, fishing mid-day could prove to be quite successful.

Most of the fish species have finished spawning and have recovered from the reproductive process. They’re definitely feeding actively but their location has changed slightly compared to where they were laying their eggs a few weeks ago.

Walleye have been most active in the 16-20 foot range and can be caught using leeches, minnows or night crawlers at this point of the season. Just remember to properly manage your live bait in the boat since warm weather can quickly turn your live bait into dead, smelly bait.

Don’t be shy about searching for walleye in shallow to mid-depth ranges also, even in the middle of the day. The key component, however, are weeds. The vegetation provides respite from the sun’s penetrating rays and also offers cover to hide from predators and simultaneously ambush prey.

Some people get frustrated when they catch weeds and will even go to a different location that has limited vegetation. Just remember, weeds are good habitat for nearly all fish species. So if you want to go where the big fish live, target weeds.

Largemouth bass, northern pike, muskies, crappies and bluegills all relate to vegetation. But many people don’t realize the smallmouth bass and walleye like hanging out in vegetation too. Sometimes they’ll sit right in the weeds, other times they will travel along the weedline, the area where the weeds stop growing on the bottom of the lake.

Weedlines form natural travel routes for fish. But the weeds have to develop and grow before fish will gravitate to those areas. Up until just recently, the lake weeds had been greatly under-developed because of our uncharacteristically late spring.

Even though fish like weeds to use as habitat, they don’t like to eat weeds. So if you happen to hook even a small piece of vegetation, take it off from your hook before the next cast. Otherwise the only thing you’ll actually catch is more weeds.

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