Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rotten weather impacts the fishing

There's nothing anybody can do about it, of course, but crummy weather like we had last week really does hurt the fishing.

The weather went from bad to worse ending up Friday with a horrendous downpour, gale-force winds and plummeting temperature. Earlier it had only been windy and rainy.

Except for Friday, most everybody was able to get out fishing despite the inclement conditions.

They mostly found the walleye lethargic at the beginning of the week and then biting well by Thursday. Pike were hardest to get but Thursday, which was sunny, was also the best day.

Several people caught and released lake trout while walleye fishing. The trout have been shallow all summer, I think because their former forage fish, smelt, have all but disappeared.

Smelt are an exotic species that somehow got into the lake about 20 years ago. Their numbers exploded and they became a favorite food fish for all species because they are rich in calories. They mostly existed in the deepwater, the same location as the trout.

The smelt largely displaced native ciscoes also known in Red Lake as tulibee. Then the smelt population crashed two years ago. No one knows exactly why but it happens every time they invade a new lake. Their numbers skyrocket, then crash, and finally reach an equilibrium which will be just a tiny fraction of what it once was.

We are seeing signs of a comeback of tulibee now that the smelt are gone but it will take a couple of years. In the meantime the trout don't have much to eat down in the depths and are coming shallow looking for the same food the walleye are gorging upon: shiners, daces, other minnows, perch, etc.

The "eats" in the shallows are apparently very good indeed. Walleyes and northern pike are the chubbiest we've ever seen them.

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