Jerry Cohen with a nice June Lake Erie Walleye
This past week I watched as the clouds of Mayflies rose from the bottom of Lake Erie to the surface of the water on my boat’s sonar. On Sunday morning they were in the 10 foot range of the water column, and by Monday night they were covering the sides of shoreline homes and boats sitting in the marinas in a thick blanket of wings and curved up tails.
I have been told that, believe it or not, the Doppler radar system used by the National Weather Service picked up an emerging group of Mayflies on Lake Erie one year. Can you imagine how big that must have been?
Immature Mayflies are called “naiads”, and can spend up to a year in the bottom of the lake bed feeding on algae and diatoms. Once they rise to the surface and shed their outer skin, they fly into the air and spend the next 30 minutes to 24 hours trying to mate with another Mayfly before succumbing to their inevitable death. Most of the population will hatch at the same time over a day or two in the spring and fall. But since there are many different species of fly, it may seem as though they are hatching all summer long.
While the presence of this harmless little creature reveals a healthy ecosystem, they do tend to make things very messy in town, and it also makes the walleye fishing a little tougher. Walleye love to gorge themselves on the rising clouds of Mayflies, because it’s an easy meal, which in turn makes trying to get a walleye to bite your lure/bait almost impossible.
I’m often asked, “What can I do to catch fish when the hatch is happening?” And, my answer is always the same: “Wait for it to be over, or go to an area that isn’t having a hatch right now.” There really isn’t anything you can do that I know of that will out-produce Mother Nature.