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Spring & Summer Mayfly Hatch

walleye teeth 2Take a close look at a walleye’s mouth and its teeth tell the story – they have evolved to feed on fish. Yet, walleye don’t survive on fish alone. Ever the opportunists, these marble-eyed predators will snatch up meals whenever they get the chance, and there are few underwater appetizers as easy for them to eat as may fly nymphs.

Mayfly nymphs are more than simple snacks for walleye. They’re a main component in walleye diets at certain times of the year. In the spring, gluttonous post-spawn walleye will cruise soft-bottom areas feeding on nymphs and in the summer walleye will target emerging nymphs during a hatch. To effectively catch walleye feeding onnymph nymphs, anglers need to understand the predator-prey relationship between these two species. This includes where to locate nymph-eating ‘eyes and downsizing lures to imitate these immature may fly morsels.

The life cycle of mayflies is;  egg to nymph, followed by nymph to adult. A may fly spends the majority of its life as a nymph, also called larva. Classified as benthic (bottom dwelling) invertebrates, nymphs crawl along the bottom, hiding in debris and vegetation while some create burrows. Flats and bays with soft mud or silt bottoms are prime nymph habitat. Some nymphs live in deep water, but most stay shallow to soak up sun which is crucial for their growth.

In spring, maturing nymphs become active as they prepare to emerge from the water. Once conditions are right, mature nymphs swim to the surface or crawl on land, shedding their casings and molting into winged adults. As adults their lifespan is relatively short, with their sole purpose to mate before dying. As with any migration in nature, increased activity and concentrated numbers of organisms will attract predators. The mayfly-walleye relationship is no different.

may_fly_life_cycle

“Primarily the time of year when a fish like walleye zeros in on may fly nymphs is the early to late spring period when the organisms are emerging from the mud in fairly concentrated areas, especially the types that burrow into the substrate,” says the experts.

Given their post-spawn predisposition to binge-feeding, catching walleye targeting may fly nymphs can be easy – if you know where to look. The first step is finding soft-bottomed flats comprised of mud, sand and silt that hold may fly nymphs. Some sonars display soft-bottom areas as a thin line as mud or silt absorbs and scatters the sonar’s signals.

Once you’ve found some soft-bottom areas, fish those that are close to spawning areas first, as these spots are natural transition zones and resting points for recovering fish. Also consider the light preferences of walleye. Shaded flats or ones containing weeds and wood will hold walleye better than ones in sunlight and void of cover.

3fbabdf5_hooksSmall 1/16 or 1/8-ounce jigs in both dark and light colours can be deadly when walleye feed on nymphs during early spring. Try to make jigs mimic a nymph’s erratic movements during the retrieve. If casting, slowly crawl or subtly hop it along bottom. If vertical jigging, thump the jig in place to kick up debris. This tactic appeals to a walleye’s curiosity and can trigger hits.

Walleye often suck-in nymphs and hits can be subtle. Stay focused on watching your line for the slightest twitch indicating that a walleye has sucked in your bait. You need to set the hook immediately or the fish will blow the bait back out. You will often find that tipping the jig with a small piece of worm will entice more bites and gives you more time to set the hook, as the fish hangs on to the jig a little longer. A rod with a sensitive tip and low-stretch line will also help you detect hits.

If fishing slows, a slip bobber and a small jig tipped with a piece of worm or leech can tease out a few hits. “After you cast out, let the jig and float settle for a few seconds and then slowly pull or reel in approximately three to four feet of line, then pause again.” Continue this style of retrieve until you have covered the area.

During spring feeding binges walleye are not as selective on baits matching-the-hatch as they in the summer. When spring fishing this season pay attention to water surface activity and look for isolated hatches. If near post-spawn staging areas, these spots might serve as feeding zones for recovering walleye. Fish them with jigs or slip bobbers and live bait.

In the summer, the early stages of a may fly hatch can produce good fishing as walleye will feed aggressively, competing for the small number of nymphs. However, when large hatches occur lakes can become overrun with food, and walleye tend to become extremely selective feeders.

Anglers need to downsize presentations to fool summer, nymph-feeding walleye. “The particle size of nymphs tends to be a bit smaller than what people think the average-sized, adult walleye is going after. People may be fishing with presentations that are too large or don’t mimic emerging may fly nymphs,” experts say. Depending on the species, nymphs can range in size from 0.5 to 1 inches in size. Aside from downsizing lures, anglers also need to fish exactly where walleye are feeding in the water column.

Anglers also need to move to where hatches happen.  “During the may fly hatch, I find that walleye are generally up shallower. I have caught walleye in water as shallow as three feet, even on sunny days.” When choosing where to fish flats, concentrate on breaks and holes. Walleye always like to have deeper water adjacent to their feeding flats!

Small jigs can be productive if walleye are bottom-feeding on nymphs during hatches. Bucktail or marabou jigs are particularly deadly, as feathers and hair pulsate in the water. This can be the subtle movement that is needed to trigger finicky walleye. Deadsticking a bucktail jig can be effective for neutral or negative mood ‘eyes. What this does is give inactive walleye a chance to come over and examine the bait – this may get you a few more strikes on those really slow days.

Nick 27 Walleye 6-3When walleye are aggressively feeding on nymphs during a hatch in weedy areas, ago-to bait is a bucktail jig in black, with either a red or white strip on the side. In the weedy flats he fishes, Evans aggressively jigs these baits. “This causes the feathers and hair to expand and contract giving the bucktail a life like appearance,” he notes.

To fish hatches,   starts with small, jointed minnow baits, fished on a stop-and-go retrieve. It’s important to mimic the action of the larva in the water as it floats up from the bottom, so a slow up and down cadence of your presentation is key. If these baits do not produce,  switch over to jigs. Swim jigs and  scale down to using two to three-inch grubs with 1/8 and even 1/16oz heads. Work these baits along weed edges and over weed tops, searching for where walleye are located in the water column during a hatch.

Another productive bait to target walleye during a hatch is a weighted, single-hook spinner rig, featuring a small #3 Colorado or Indiana blade. Colorado and Indiana blades allow the lure to be retrieved slowly, matching a nymphs’ speed, while producing vibration and flash. Widely used on Lake Erie during hatches, it is often called a may fly rig.

A more subtle variation of the may fly rig (resembling a live-bait rig) is a No. 2 or 4 octopus hook tied below a sinker. Tip rigs with a small piece of worm, anywhere from an half to two inches in size.

Dragging may fly rigs along the bottom or slowly swimming them to the surface will imitate nymph activity. Other elements of the retrieve should include frequent pauses, stalls, and lifting the bait up again. Rigs can also be counted-down to target suspended walleye feeding on emerging nymphs.

During summer walleye feed on vulnerable may fly nymphs during hatches. Using small baits and imitating a nymph’s erratic movements will take fish when traditional baits won’t get a sniff. Integrate the above strategies into your repertoire, and you’ll be turning may fly hatches into opportunities for increased catches.

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Posted by on April 23, 2016 in Fishing, Mayfly, Walleye Fishing

 

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Spring & Summer Mayfly Hatch

walleye teeth 2Take a close look at a walleye’s mouth and its teeth tell the story – they have evolved to feed on fish. Yet, walleye don’t survive on fish alone. Ever the opportunists, these marble-eyed predators will snatch up meals whenever they get the chance, and there are few underwater appetizers as easy for them to eat as may fly nymphs.

Mayfly nymphs are more than simple snacks for walleye. They’re a main component in walleye diets at certain times of the year. In the spring, gluttonous post-spawn walleye will cruise soft-bottom areas feeding on nymphs and in the summer walleye will target emerging nymphs during a hatch. To effectively catch walleye feeding on nymphs, anglers need to understand the predator-prey relationship between these two species. This includes where to locate nymph-eating ‘eyes and downsizing lures to imitate these immature may fly morsels.

The life cycle of mayflies is;  egg to nymph, followed by nymph to adult. A may fly spends the majority of its life nymphas a nymph, also called larva. Classified as benthic (bottom dwelling) invertebrates, nymphs crawl along the bottom, hiding in debris and vegetation while some create burrows. Flats and bays with soft mud or silt bottoms are prime nymph habitat. Some nymphs live in deep water, but most stay shallow to soak up sun which is crucial for their growth.

In spring, maturing nymphs become active as they prepare to emerge from the water. Once conditions are right, mature nymphs swim to the surface or crawl on land, shedding their casings and molting into winged adults. As adults their lifespan is relatively short, with their sole purpose to mate before dying. As with any migration in nature, increased activity and concentrated numbers of organisms will attract predators. The mayfly-walleye relationship is no different.

may_fly_life_cycle

“Primarily the time of year when a fish like walleye zeros in on may fly nymphs is the early to late spring period when the organisms are emerging from the mud in fairly concentrated areas, especially the types that burrow into the substrate,” says the experts.

Given their post-spawn predisposition to binge-feeding, catching walleye targeting may fly nymphs can be easy – if you know where to look. The first step is finding soft-bottomed flats comprised of mud, sand and silt that hold may fly nymphs. Some sonars display soft-bottom areas as a thin line as mud or silt absorbs and scatters the sonar’s signals.

Once you’ve found some soft-bottom areas, fish those that are close to spawning areas first, as these spots are natural transition zones and resting points for recovering fish. Also consider the light preferences of walleye. Shaded flats or ones containing weeds and wood will hold walleye better than ones in sunlight and void of cover.

3fbabdf5_hooksSmall 1/16 or 1/8-ounce jigs in both dark and light colors can be deadly when walleye feed on nymphs during early spring. Try to make jigs mimic a nymph’s erratic movements during the retrieve. If casting, slowly crawl or subtly hop it along bottom. If vertical jigging, thump the jig in place to kick up debris. This tactic appeals to a walleye’s curiosity and can trigger hits.

Walleye often suck-in nymphs and hits can be subtle. Stay focused on watching your line for the slightest twitch indicating that a walleye has sucked in your bait. You need to set the hook immediately or the fish will blow the bait back out. You will often find that tipping the jig with a small piece of worm will entice more bites and gives you more time to set the hook, as the fish hangs on to the jig a little longer. A rod with a sensitive tip and low-stretch line will also help you detect hits.

If fishing slows, a slip bobber and a small jig tipped with a piece of worm or leech can tease out a few hits. “After you cast out, let the jig and float settle for a few seconds and then slowly pull or reel in approximately three to four feet of line, then pause again.” Continue this style of retrieve until you have covered the area.

During spring feeding binges walleye are not as selective on baits matching-the-hatch as they in the summer. When spring fishing this season pay attention to water surface activity and look for isolated hatches. If near post-spawn staging areas, these spots might serve as feeding zones for recovering walleye. Fish them with jigs or slip bobbers and live bait.

In the summer, the early stages of a may fly hatch can produce good fishing as walleye will feed aggressively, competing for the small number of nymphs. However, when large hatches occur lakes can become overrun with food, and walleye tend to become extremely selective feeders.

Anglers need to downsize presentations to fool summer, nymph-feeding walleye. “The particle size of nymphs tends to be a bit smaller than what people think the average-sized, adult walleye is going after. People may be fishing with presentations that are too large or don’t mimic emerging may fly nymphs,” experts say. Depending on the species, nymphs can range in size from 0.5 to 1 inches in size. Aside from downsizing lures, anglers also need to fish exactly where walleye are feeding in the water column.

Anglers also need to move to where hatches happen.  “During the may fly hatch, I find that walleye are generally up shallower. I have caught walleye in water as shallow as three feet, even on sunny days.” When choosing where to fish flats, concentrate on breaks and holes. Walleye always like to have deeper water adjacent to their feeding flats!
netting walleye

Small jigs can be productive if walleye are bottom-feeding on nymphs during hatches. Buck tail or marabou jigs are particularly deadly, as feathers and hair pulsate in the water. This can be the subtle movement that is needed to trigger finicky walleye. Dead sticking a buck tail jig can be effective for neutral or negative mood ‘eyes. What this does is give inactive walleye a chance to come over and examine the bait – this may get you a few more strikes on those really slow days.

When walleye are aggressively feeding on nymphs during a hatch in weedy areas, ago-to bait is a buck tail jig in black, with either a red or white strip on the side. In the weedy flats he fishes, Evans aggressively jigs these baits. “This causes the feathers and hair to expand and contract giving the buck tail a life like appearance,” he notes.

To fish hatches,   starts with small, jointed minnow baits, fished on a stop-and-go retrieve. It’s important to mimic the action of the larva in the water as it floats up from the bottom, so a slow up and down cadence of your presentation is key. If these baits do not produce,  switch over to jigs. Swim jigs and  scale down to using two to three-inch grubs with 1/8 and even 1/16oz heads. Work these baits along weed edges and over weed tops, searching for where walleye are located in the water column during a hatch.

Another productive bait to target walleye during a hatch is a weighted, single-hook spinner rig, featuring a small #3 Colorado or Indiana blade. Colorado and Indiana blades allow the lure to be retrieved slowly, matching a nymphs’ speed, while producing vibration and flash. Widely used on Lake Erie during hatches, it is often called a may fly rig.

A more subtle variation of the may fly rig (resembling a live-bait rig) is a No. 2 or 4 octopus hook tied below a sinker. Tip rigs with a small piece of worm, anywhere from an half to two inches in size.


Dragging may fly rigs along the bottom or slowly swimming them to the surface will imitate nymph activity. Other elements of the retrieve should include frequent pauses, stalls, and lifting the bait up again. Rigs can also be counted-down to target suspended walleye feeding on emerging nymphs.

During summer walleye feed on vulnerable may fly nymphs during hatches. Using small baits and imitating a nymph’s erratic movements will take fish when traditional baits won’t get a sniff. Integrate the above strategies into your repertoire, and you’ll be turning may fly hatches into opportunities for increased catches.

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Posted by on April 27, 2015 in Fishing, Mayfly, Walleye Fishing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Spring & Summer Mayfly Hatch

walleye teeth 2Take a close look at a walleye’s mouth and its teeth tell the story – they have evolved to feed on fish. Yet, walleye don’t survive on fish alone. Ever the opportunists, these marble-eyed predators will snatch up meals whenever they get the chance, and there are few underwater appetizers as easy for them to eat as may fly nymphs.

Mayfly nymphs are more than simple snacks for walleye. They’re a main component in walleye diets at certain times of the year. In the spring, gluttonous post-spawn walleye will cruise soft-bottom areas feeding on nymphs and in the summer walleye will target emerging nymphs during a hatch. To effectively catch walleye feeding on nymphs, anglers need to understand the predator-prey relationship between these two species. This includes where to locate nymph-eating ‘eyes and downsizing lures to imitate these immature may fly morsels.

The life cycle of mayflies is;  egg to nymph, followed by nymph to adult. A may fly spends the majority of its life as a nymph, also called larva. Classified as benthic (bottom dwelling) nymphinvertebrates, nymphs crawl along the bottom, hiding in debris and vegetation while some create burrows. Flats and bays with soft mud or silt bottoms are prime nymph habitat. Some nymphs live in deep water, but most stay shallow to soak up sun which is crucial for their growth.

In spring, maturing nymphs become active as they prepare to emerge from the water. Once conditions are right, mature nymphs swim to the surface or crawl on land, shedding their casings and molting into winged adults. As adults their lifespan is relatively short, with their sole purpose to mate before dying. As with any migration in nature, increased activity and concentrated numbers of organisms will attract predators. The mayfly-walleye relationship is no different.

may_fly_life_cycle

“Primarily the time of year when a fish like walleye zeros in on may fly nymphs is the early to late spring period when the organisms are emerging from the mud in fairly concentrated areas, especially the types that burrow into the substrate,” says the experts.

Given their post-spawn predisposition to binge-feeding, catching walleye targeting may fly nymphs can be easy – if you know where to look. The first step is finding soft-bottomed flats comprised of mud, sand and silt that hold may fly nymphs. Some sonars display soft-bottom areas as a thin line as mud or silt absorbs and scatters the sonar’s signals.

Once you’ve found some soft-bottom areas, fish those that are close to spawning areas first, as these spots are natural transition zones and resting points for recovering fish. Also consider the light preferences of walleye. Shaded flats or ones containing weeds and wood will hold walleye better than ones in sunlight and void of cover.

3fbabdf5_hooksSmall 1/16 or 1/8-ounce jigs in both dark and light colours can be deadly when walleye feed on nymphs during early spring. Try to make jigs mimic a nymph’s erratic movements during the retrieve. If casting, slowly crawl or subtly hop it along bottom. If vertical jigging, thump the jig in place to kick up debris. This tactic appeals to a walleye’s curiosity and can trigger hits.

Walleye often suck-in nymphs and hits can be subtle. Stay focused on watching your line for the slightest twitch indicating that a walleye has sucked in your bait. You need to set the hook immediately or the fish will blow the bait back out. You will often find that tipping the jig with a small piece of worm will entice more bites and gives you more time to set the hook, as the fish hangs on to the jig a little longer. A rod with a sensitive tip and low-stretch line will also help you detect hits.

If fishing slows, a slip bobber and a small jig tipped with a piece of worm or leech can tease out a few hits. “After you cast out, let the jig and float settle for a few seconds and then slowly pull or reel in approximately three to four feet of line, then pause again.” Continue this style of retrieve until you have covered the area.

During spring feeding binges walleye are not as selective on baits matching-the-hatch as they in the summer. When spring fishing this season pay attention to water surface activity and look for isolated hatches. If near post-spawn staging areas, these spots might serve as feeding zones for recovering walleye. Fish them with jigs or slip bobbers and live bait.

Here is a good example of the rewards reaped when following a few
tips when fishing during a May-fly hatch.  The King group
caught 57 trophy sized walleye 25+ and boated 150+ fish per day.

8 Lake Map & Stats

In the summer, the early stages of a may fly hatch can produce good fishing as walleye will feed aggressively, competing for the small number of nymphs. However, when large hatches occur lakes can become overrun with food, and walleye tend to become extremely selective feeders.

Anglers need to downsize presentations to fool summer, nymph-feeding walleye. “The particle size of nymphs tends to be a bit smaller than what people think the average-sized, adult walleye is going after. People may be fishing with presentations that are too large or don’t mimic emerging may fly nymphs,” experts say. Depending on the species, nymphs can range in size from 0.5 to 1 inches in size. Aside from downsizing lures, anglers also need to fish exactly where walleye are feeding in the water column.

Anglers also need to move to where hatches happen.  During the may fly hatch,  walleye are generally up shallower. You can catch walleye in water as shallow as three feet, even on sunny days.  When choosing where to fish flats, concentrate on breaks and holes. Walleye always like to have deeper water adjacent to their feeding flats!

Small jigs can be productive if walleye are bottom-feeding on nymphs during hatches. Bucktail or marabou jigs are particularly deadly, as feathers and hair pulsate in the water. This can be the subtle movement that is needed to trigger finicky walleye. Deadsticking a bucktail jig can be effective for neutral or negative mood ‘eyes. What this does is give inactive walleye a chance to come over and examine the bait – this may get you a few more strikes on those really slow days.

black bucktailWhen walleye are aggressively feeding on nymphs during a hatch in weedy areas, ago-to bait is a bucktail jig in black, with either a red or white strip on the side. In the weedy flats aggressively jigs these baits.  This causes the feathers and hair to expand and contract giving the bucktail a life like appearance.

To fish hatches, start with small, jointed minnow baits, fished on a stop-and-go retrieve. It’s important to mimic the action of the larva in the water as it floats up from the bottom, so a slow up and down cadence of your presentation is key. If these baits do not produce,  switch over to jigs. Swim jigs and  scale down to using two to three-inch grubs with 1/8 and even 1/16oz heads. Work these baits along weed edges and over weed tops, searching for where walleye are located in the water column during a hatch.

Another productive bait to target walleye during a hatch is a weighted, single-hook spinner rig, featuring a small #3 Colorado or Indiana blade. Colorado and Indiana blades allow the lure to be retrieved slowly, matching a nymphs’ speed, while producing vibration and flash. Widely used on Lake Erie during hatches, it is often called a may fly rig.

A more subtle variation of the may fly rig (resembling a live-bait rig) is a No. 2 or 4 octopus hook tied below a sinker. Tip rigs with a small piece of worm, anywhere from an half to two inches in size.

mayflyrigDragging may fly rigs along the bottom or slowly swimming them to the surface will imitate nymph activity. Other elements of the retrieve should include frequent pauses, stalls, and lifting the bait up again. Rigs can also be counted-down to target suspended walleye feeding on emerging nymphs.

During summer walleye feed on vulnerable may fly nymphs during hatches. Using small baits and imitating a nymph’s erratic movements will take fish when traditional baits won’t get a sniff. Integrate the above strategies into your repertoire, and you’ll be turning may fly hatches into opportunities for increased catches.

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Posted by on April 26, 2014 in Fishing, Mayfly, Walleye Fishing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Spring & Summer Mayfly Hatch

walleye teeth 2Take a close look at a walleye‘s mouth and its teeth tell the story – they have evolved to feed on fish. Yet, walleye don’t survive on fish alone. Ever the opportunists, these marble-eyed predators will snatch up meals whenever they get the chance, and there are few underwater appetizers as easy for them to eat as may fly nymphs.

Mayfly nymphs are more than simple snacks for walleye. They’re a main component in walleye diets at certain times of the year. In the spring, gluttonous post-spawn walleye will cruise soft-bottom areas feeding on nymphs and in the summer walleye will target emerging nymphs during a hatch. To effectively catch walleye feeding onnymph nymphs, anglers need to understand the predator-prey relationship between these two species. This includes where to locate nymph-eating ‘eyes and downsizing lures to imitate these immature may fly morsels.

The life cycle of mayflies is;  egg to nymph, followed by nymph to adult. A may fly spends the majority of its life as a nymph, also called larva. Classified as benthic (bottom dwelling) invertebrates, nymphs crawl along the bottom, hiding in debris and vegetation while some create burrows. Flats and bays with soft mud or silt bottoms are prime nymph habitat. Some nymphs live in deep water, but most stay shallow to soak up sun which is crucial for their growth.

In spring, maturing nymphs become active as they prepare to emerge from the water. Once conditions are right, mature nymphs swim to the surface or crawl on land, shedding their casings and molting into winged adults. As adults their lifespan is relatively short, with their sole purpose to mate before dying. As with any migration in nature, increased activity and concentrated numbers of organisms will attract predators. The mayfly-walleye relationship is no different.

may_fly_life_cycle

“Primarily the time of year when a fish like walleye zeros in on may fly nymphs is the early to late spring period when the organisms are emerging from the mud in fairly concentrated areas, especially the types that burrow into the substrate,” says the experts.

Given their post-spawn predisposition to binge-feeding, catching walleye targeting may fly nymphs can be easy – if you know where to look. The first step is finding soft-bottomed flats comprised of mud, sand and silt that hold may fly nymphs. Some sonars display soft-bottom areas as a thin line as mud or silt absorbs and scatters the sonar’s signals.

Once you’ve found some soft-bottom areas, fish those that are close to spawning areas first, as these spots are natural transition zones and resting points for recovering fish. Also consider the light preferences of walleye. Shaded flats or ones containing weeds and wood will hold walleye better than ones in sunlight and void of cover.

3fbabdf5_hooksSmall 1/16 or 1/8-ounce jigs in both dark and light colours can be deadly when walleye feed on nymphs during early spring. Try to make jigs mimic a nymph’s erratic movements during the retrieve. If casting, slowly crawl or subtly hop it along bottom. If vertical jigging, thump the jig in place to kick up debris. This tactic appeals to a walleye’s curiosity and can trigger hits.

Walleye often suck-in nymphs and hits can be subtle. Stay focused on watching your line for the slightest twitch indicating that a walleye has sucked in your bait. You need to set the hook immediately or the fish will blow the bait back out. You will often find that tipping the jig with a small piece of worm will entice more bites and gives you more time to set the hook, as the fish hangs on to the jig a little longer. A rod with a sensitive tip and low-stretch line will also help you detect hits.

If fishing slows, a slip bobber and a small jig tipped with a piece of worm or leech can tease out a few hits. “After you cast out, let the jig and float settle for a few seconds and then slowly pull or reel in approximately three to four feet of line, then pause again.” Continue this style of retrieve until you have covered the area.

During spring feeding binges walleye are not as selective on baits matching-the-hatch as they in the summer. When spring fishing this season pay attention to water surface activity and look for isolated hatches. If near post-spawn staging areas, these spots might serve as feeding zones for recovering walleye. Fish them with jigs or slip bobbers and live bait.

In the summer, the early stages of a may fly hatch can produce good fishing as walleye will feed aggressively, competing for the small number of nymphs. However, when large hatches occur lakes can become overrun with food, and walleye tend to become extremely selective feeders.

Anglers need to downsize presentations to fool summer, nymph-feeding walleye. “The particle size of nymphs tends to be a bit smaller than what people think the average-sized, adult walleye is going after. People may be fishing with presentations that are too large or don’t mimic emerging may fly nymphs,” experts say. Depending on the species, nymphs can range in size from 0.5 to 1 inches in size. Aside from downsizing lures, anglers also need to fish exactly where walleye are feeding in the water column.

Anglers also need to move to where hatches happen.  “During the may fly hatch, I find that walleye are generally up shallower. I have caught walleye in water as shallow as three feet, even on sunny days.” When choosing where to fish flats, concentrate on breaks and holes. Walleye always like to have deeper water adjacent to their feeding flats!

Small jigs can be productive if walleye are bottom-feeding on nymphs during hatches. Bucktail or marabou jigs are particularly deadly, as feathers and hair pulsate in the water. This can be the subtle movement that is needed to trigger finicky walleye. Deadsticking a bucktail jig can be effective for neutral or negative mood ‘eyes. What this does is give inactive walleye a chance to come over and examine the bait – this may get you a few more strikes on those really slow days.

When walleye are aggressively feeding on nymphs during a hatch in weedy areas, ago-to bait is a bucktail jig in black, with either a red or white strip on the side. In the weedy flats he fishes, Evans aggressively jigs these baits. “This causes the feathers and hair to expand and contract giving the bucktail a life like appearance,” he notes.

To fish hatches,   starts with small, jointed minnow baits, fished on a stop-and-go retrieve. It’s important to mimic the action of the larva in the water as it floats up from the bottom, so a slow up and down cadence of your presentation is key. If these baits do not produce,  switch over to jigs. Swim jigs and  scale down to using two to three-inch grubs with 1/8 and even 1/16oz heads. Work these baits along weed edges and over weed tops, searching for where walleye are located in the water column during a hatch.

Another productive bait to target walleye during a hatch is a weighted, single-hook spinner rig, featuring a small #3 Colorado or Indiana blade. Colorado and Indiana blades allow the lure to be retrieved slowly, matching a nymphs’ speed, while producing vibration and flash. Widely used on Lake Erie during hatches, it is often called a may fly rig.

A more subtle variation of the may fly rig (resembling a live-bait rig) is a No. 2 or 4 octopus hook tied below a sinker. Tip rigs with a small piece of worm, anywhere from an half to two inches in size.

Dragging may fly rigs along the bottom or slowly swimming them to the surface will imitate nymph activity. Other elements of the retrieve should include frequent pauses, stalls, and lifting the bait up again. Rigs can also be counted-down to target suspended walleye feeding on emerging nymphs.

During summer walleye feed on vulnerable may fly nymphs during hatches. Using small baits and imitating a nymph’s erratic movements will take fish when traditional baits won’t get a sniff. Integrate the above strategies into your repertoire, and you’ll be turning may fly hatches into opportunities for increased catches.

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Posted by on March 7, 2014 in Fishing, Mayfly, Walleye Fishing

 

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Wawang Lake – Great Horned Owl

great-horned-owl-closeup2The great horned owl is one of Ontario’s most common owl species, and the largest (in overall size). Seeing the Great Horned Owl in and around Wawang Lake is very common but you will need to keep a keen eye open for them as they are camoflaged so well into their surroundings that they are hidden to the human eye.

This owl is quite distinct in size and features. It has large yellow eyes, and prominent ear tufts (horns). It has a broad face, curved beak, visible facial disk (darker feathers around face) and large talons. The great horned owl is a brown-grey, with distinct barred underparts and their markings help them camouflage (blend) in trees. Females, as with all raptor species, are significantly larger than males. This is a nocturnal owl, meaning it is most active at night. This owl makes a booming call, whoo-hoo-ho-o-o. Also, this bird DOES NOT migrate.

Habitat:
Great horned owls are found in a variety of habitats. They prefer to live in open woodlands, with secondary-growth forests or around agricultural areas. They are commonly found in boreal forests, or mixed forests with both deciduous (leafy) and coniferous (needle) trees.

31 Great Horned Owl_artusoBreeding:
The great horned owl does not make their own nests; instead they find nests from other animals to use. Nests are usually only used for a single mating season because they are easily destroyed by all the hatchling activity. These owls will take nests from red-tailed hawks, crows, and even squirrels. This owl may also nest in tree cavities, or rock ledges.

This species is territorial, and on average there will be one pair per 7-10 km2. Great horned owls will pair with a single mate for their life, unless that mate is killed, and will return to the same territory for a number of years. This owl will not breed until their second year, although occasionally younger birds breed if food is abundant.

Great horned owls breed during the winter months (January-February). The eggs are incubated by the female for one month. Females will lay 1-5 eggs with food availability being the biggest factor that affects the number of eggs deposited. Hatchlings appear mid-April to early May, and the mother will brood (sit on young and keep safe and warm) the hatchlings continuously for 2 weeks, with the male being responsible for bringing food to the mother and hatchlings. Owlettes (baby owls) are covered in down feathers (fluffy) and will not be able to leave the nest until 2 months of age. The young will remain within their parent’s territory until the fall.

Time before fledging, the period of first flight, is critical for the owlettes to learn how to hunt, fly, and be an owl (if owlettes are raised by humans during this time, they will be human-imprinted, meaning they will think they are a human as they aren’t born knowing they are owls…they imprint on the first thing they see-which would be their own parents). Death rates are high, with 50% of young that leave the nest dieing during their first year.

imagesCAB3LUNEDiet:
Great horned owls are a top predator and are strictly carnivorous. They eat different sized prey, ranging from the size of a mouse to as large as a goose. One of the great horned owls favourite meals is skunk, and they are the only natural predator to skunks-they don’t have a sense of smell, so skunks have no defenses against this owl. Small prey, such as mice, are swallowed whole, while larger prey are dismembered before eaten. Owls eat ALL their prey; however, not all is digestible. Fur, feathers, teeth and bones are not digested and are compacted into a pellet which the owl will regurgitate before their next meal.

Threats to species:
The biggest threat to the great horned owl is humans. They are commonly hit by cars, due to their nocturnal hunting, collide with buildings, fly into power lines, and are shot by farmers.

Threat to humans:
This owl is really no threat to humans. They will aggressively protect their nests, so don’t bother them during nesting season, but otherwise, if you see one count yourself lucky.

Fun facts:

  • The great horned owl will hang large prey in trees and will eat it for a number of days.
  • Crows regularly harass great horned owls, so if you see a tree with a ton of crows flying into it, there is most likely a great horned owl there.
  • Great horned owls will eat porcupines, and commonly have porcupine quills stuck to their body.

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THE GREY OWL

owl

The great grey owl is a large, reclusive predator of the taiga’s coniferous forests. Plunge marks in the snow are usually the only evidence for its presence. Distinctive extra-large facial disks direct sound to feather covered ear openings, providing super-sensitive hearing. This enables the great grey owl to accurately locate prey, even under two feet of snow or in a tunnel. With soft feathers, it can glide unheard from its perch to dispatch an unfortunate rodent with its sharp talons. The abundance of food, especially voles, is crucial for the number of eggs a female will lay. Great grey owls will travel vast distances when local prey is scarce.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2013 in Wildlife, Wildlife viewing

 

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Spring & Summer Mayfly Hatch

walleye teeth 2Take a close look at a walleye‘s mouth and its teeth tell the story – they have evolved to feed on fish. Yet, walleye don’t survive on fish alone. Ever the opportunists, these marble-eyed predators will snatch up meals whenever they get the chance, and there are few underwater appetizers as easy for them to eat as may fly nymphs.

Mayfly nymphs are more than simple snacks for walleye. They’re a main component in walleye diets at certain times of the year. In the spring, gluttonous post-spawn walleye will cruise soft-bottom areas feeding on nymphs and in the summer walleye will target emerging nymphs during a hatch. To effectively catch walleye feeding onnymph nymphs, anglers need to understand the predator-prey relationship between these two species. This includes where to locate nymph-eating ‘eyes and downsizing lures to imitate these immature may fly morsels.

The life cycle of mayflies is;  egg to nymph, followed by nymph to adult. A may fly spends the majority of its life as a nymph, also called larva. Classified as benthic (bottom dwelling) invertebrates, nymphs crawl along the bottom, hiding in debris and vegetation while some create burrows. Flats and bays with soft mud or silt bottoms are prime nymph habitat. Some nymphs live in deep water, but most stay shallow to soak up sun which is crucial for their growth.

In spring, maturing nymphs become active as they prepare to emerge from the water. Once conditions are right, mature nymphs swim to the surface or crawl on land, shedding their casings and molting into winged adults. As adults their lifespan is relatively short, with their sole purpose to mate before dying. As with any migration in nature, increased activity and concentrated numbers of organisms will attract predators. The mayfly-walleye relationship is no different.

may_fly_life_cycle

“Primarily the time of year when a fish like walleye zeros in on may fly nymphs is the early to late spring period when the organisms are emerging from the mud in fairly concentrated areas, especially the types that burrow into the substrate,” says the experts.

Given their post-spawn predisposition to binge-feeding, catching walleye targeting may fly nymphs can be easy – if you know where to look. The first step is finding soft-bottomed flats comprised of mud, sand and silt that hold may fly nymphs. Some sonars display soft-bottom areas as a thin line as mud or silt absorbs and scatters the sonar’s signals.

Once you’ve found some soft-bottom areas, fish those that are close to spawning areas first, as these spots are natural transition zones and resting points for recovering fish. Also consider the light preferences of walleye. Shaded flats or ones containing weeds and wood will hold walleye better than ones in sunlight and void of cover.

3fbabdf5_hooksSmall 1/16 or 1/8-ounce jigs in both dark and light colours can be deadly when walleye feed on nymphs during early spring. Try to make jigs mimic a nymph’s erratic movements during the retrieve. If casting, slowly crawl or subtly hop it along bottom. If vertical jigging, thump the jig in place to kick up debris. This tactic appeals to a walleye’s curiosity and can trigger hits.

Walleye often suck-in nymphs and hits can be subtle. Stay focused on watching your line for the slightest twitch indicating that a walleye has sucked in your bait. You need to set the hook immediately or the fish will blow the bait back out. You will often find that tipping the jig with a small piece of worm will entice more bites and gives you more time to set the hook, as the fish hangs on to the jig a little longer. A rod with a sensitive tip and low-stretch line will also help you detect hits.

If fishing slows, a slip bobber and a small jig tipped with a piece of worm or leech can tease out a few hits. “After you cast out, let the jig and float settle for a few seconds and then slowly pull or reel in approximately three to four feet of line, then pause again.” Continue this style of retrieve until you have covered the area.

During spring feeding binges walleye are not as selective on baits matching-the-hatch as they in the summer. When spring fishing this season pay attention to water surface activity and look for isolated hatches. If near post-spawn staging areas, these spots might serve as feeding zones for recovering walleye. Fish them with jigs or slip bobbers and live bait.

In the summer, the early stages of a may fly hatch can produce good fishing as walleye will feed aggressively, competing for the small number of nymphs. However, when large hatches occur lakes can become overrun with food, and walleye tend to become extremely selective feeders.

Anglers need to downsize presentations to fool summer, nymph-feeding walleye. “The particle size of nymphs tends to be a bit smaller than what people think the average-sized, adult walleye is going after. People may be fishing with presentations that are too large or don’t mimic emerging may fly nymphs,” experts say. Depending on the species, nymphs can range in size from 0.5 to 1 inches in size. Aside from downsizing lures, anglers also need to fish exactly where walleye are feeding in the water column.

Anglers also need to move to where hatches happen.  “During the may fly hatch, I find that walleye are generally up shallower. I have caught walleye in water as shallow as three feet, even on sunny days.” When choosing where to fish flats, concentrate on breaks and holes. Walleye always like to have deeper water adjacent to their feeding flats!

Small jigs can be productive if walleye are bottom-feeding on nymphs during hatches. Bucktail or marabou jigs are particularly deadly, as feathers and hair pulsate in the water. This can be the subtle movement that is needed to trigger finicky walleye. Deadsticking a bucktail jig can be effective for neutral or negative mood ‘eyes. What this does is give inactive walleye a chance to come over and examine the bait – this may get you a few more strikes on those really slow days.

When walleye are aggressively feeding on nymphs during a hatch in weedy areas, ago-to bait is a bucktail jig in black, with either a red or white strip on the side. In the weedy flats he fishes, Evans aggressively jigs these baits. “This causes the feathers and hair to expand and contract giving the bucktail a life like appearance,” he notes.

To fish hatches,   starts with small, jointed minnow baits, fished on a stop-and-go retrieve. It’s important to mimic the action of the larva in the water as it floats up from the bottom, so a slow up and down cadence of your presentation is key. If these baits do not produce,  switch over to jigs. Swim jigs and  scale down to using two to three-inch grubs with 1/8 and even 1/16oz heads. Work these baits along weed edges and over weed tops, searching for where walleye are located in the water column during a hatch.

Another productive bait to target walleye during a hatch is a weighted, single-hook spinner rig, featuring a small #3 Colorado or Indiana blade. Colorado and Indiana blades allow the lure to be retrieved slowly, matching a nymphs’ speed, while producing vibration and flash. Widely used on Lake Erie during hatches, it is often called a may fly rig.

A more subtle variation of the may fly rig (resembling a live-bait rig) is a No. 2 or 4 octopus hook tied below a sinker. Tip rigs with a small piece of worm, anywhere from an half to two inches in size.

Dragging may fly rigs along the bottom or slowly swimming them to the surface will imitate nymph activity. Other elements of the retrieve should include frequent pauses, stalls, and lifting the bait up again. Rigs can also be counted-down to target suspended walleye feeding on emerging nymphs.

During summer walleye feed on vulnerable may fly nymphs during hatches. Using small baits and imitating a nymph’s erratic movements will take fish when traditional baits won’t get a sniff. Integrate the above strategies into your repertoire, and you’ll be turning may fly hatches into opportunities for increased catches.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2013 in Fishing, Mayfly, Walleye Fishing

 

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