Blade Fishing Report: Fish adapt to mayfly food source

·4 min read

Jun. 23—The best angling information from area experts.

—Modified approach: When billions of mayflies hatch from lake bottoms across the Great Lakes region, they change the environment that anglers are working in by altering the food pyramid. Walleye that had been feeding almost exclusively on forage fish for the past several months are now opportunistic feeders that take advantage of this plentiful and easy-to-utilize food source. A report from the National Science Foundation detailed how the mayfly hatch on Lake Erie alone adds about 12 trillion calories to the food web, nurturing waterfowl, birds, and those opportunistic walleye. The Michigan DNR advises anglers to consider that walleye in many of the state's lakes are less bottom-oriented during this time of plenty and will move up in the water column to feed. They recommend that fishermen focus more on the region five to 15 feet off the bottom and work baits in that zone, instead of on the bottom.

—Lake Erie: The mayflies have changed the tactics, approach, and the results on the big lake for many fishermen, trollers and casters alike. Captain Mike McCroskey aboard Hawg Hanger Charters is a dedicated drift-and-cast guy and he reports that the catch numbers are down since we moved into the mayfly hatch, but the fish he has netted for his clients have been running larger. Big Mike reports that he has been working the deeper water north and east of West Sister Island with gold Weapons and Erie Dearies and although there have been no full-boat limits since the mayfly hatch started, there are a lot of three-pounders in the catch. McCroskey said his winning approach is to leave the dock at 5 a.m. to beat the heat of the day, get a jump on the other boats in the charter fleet, and catch the larger fish while they are still feeding. He said that as the summer has warmed up the Western Basin, he is making longer runs to reach deeper, cooler water, with 12-mile runs common.

—Maumee River: The summer doldrums are in full bloom along this waterway, as river watcher Joe Roecklein reports. There is little fishing pressure, with catfish getting the bulk of the attention from Rossford Marina to Orleans Park. The catfish anglers use heavy gear and cast out to the deeper holes in the river, working the bottom with nightcrawlers, cut baits, shrimp, and crayfish. Upstream, a few fly fishermen are finding a variety of species are active during the evening bite, including feisty river smallmouth bass. The best late-day fishing has been found around the weed beds and along the narrow runs in the Weirs Rapids area.

—Sandusky River: Catfish are the focus of the summer fishery in the lower stretches of this river, and Bernie Whitt at Angler's Supplies in Fremont reports that the recent rain events have pulled more cats into the bay and the river. The night shift has been the most productive for catfish, with the conventional array of baits fished off the bottom. Upstream above the fast water stretches in the downtown corridor, anglers are taking smallmouth bass on lightweight gear by casting spinners and Twister Tails along the edges of the runs and in the slack water adjacent to the deeper pools.

—Irish Hills: The lakes in this southeastern Michigan area located about an hour from Toledo continue to serve up some outstanding bluegill fishing for those anglers willing to move around a lot to find active fish. One theory holds that the bluegills were on the beds earlier and will return for a second round sometime soon. In the meantime, patient fishermen are putting bluegills in the livewell by working the deeper areas adjacent to the bedding complexes. Worms, live crickets, and spikes or mousies fished under floats have produced the best results.

—La Su An lakes: The lakes in the Lake La Su An Wildlife Area in Williams County are open for the 2021 season, with fishing permitted on Sundays, Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays from sunrise to sunset. The Lake La Su An Wildlife Area operates with a special set of fishing regulations established by the Division of Wildlife fisheries biologists to produce quality bluegill and largemouth bass fishing. Consult the La Su An special regulations at the website where you will also find downloadable maps of the Lake La Su An Wildlife Area lakes. Reservations are no longer needed to fish the lakes at La Su An, but all vehicles are required to park in a designated parking space. The season runs through Sept. 6.

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