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Fish activity peaks after storm fronts move through

Stable weather is very important to fishing success, but that’s not always the situation. July is vacation time, a week looked forward to for months. If on a fishing vacation, it can be frustrating to be on shore when severe weather rolls through the area.

Rainfall run off will bring large amounts of food and nutrients into the lake.

While observing a weigh at one of our local league walleye events, the winner had a very nice stringer of walleyes. An hour before a major thunderstorm forced the participants to wait out the weather on shore. A storm with frequent lightning strikes and torrential rainfall passed through the area. I asked where they found their fish and the team replied, "Both sides, and along the front of the river mouth entering into the lake. It has been our experience with walleyes, after significant rainfall they congregate where there is moving water." 

That made perfectly good sense to me. Moving water, whether runoff or coming via a stream or river, is a walleye magnet anytime of the year.

Other fish species, like northern pike and musky, use time after a storm to take advantage of vulnerable bait fish schools. On the Great Lakes, post storm conditions trigger feeding of lake trout and salmon.

Bass activity peaks prior to storms and slows the hours after a storm passes. A fish that favors shallow cover areas moves tighter into the cover and will feed or a take a fisherman’s bait put in very close proximity to the cover.

Growing up, I found it  mandatory to stop at the aquarium here in Park Rapids during fishing feeding times. After storms we found fish like the walleye lying on the bottom of the huge tank. Species like northern pike and musky were up looking for food. Bass were hugging tight to the cover, unless a vulnerable minnow passed close by to snap at. Panfish and crappies also were more active, hugging the vegetation and cover, occasionally chasing minnows that slowly fell to the bottom.

Based on our observations at the aquarium, and years later experience on the water, if seeking post storm action walleyes may not be the best choice. Be prepared to switch species, northern pike or musky may be a better overall. Northern pike will seek out weed edges close to deep water after storms.  Casting and trolling these areas with a jig and a minnow, wobbling spoon or trolling a crank bait are the best choices.

Less affected by storm fronts are lakes with off color or cloudy water. We have several in our area, Eagle Island or Fish Hook over Big Sand or Bad Medicine, are examples.

Stable weather conditions after storm front action on all fish species is better. My experience is the longer period between storms success gets better. If time is on your side you might be best to sit out the days after, spend some time shopping area stores or working on those overdue projects.

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