It is with some reservation that I give away my best fishing advice.
But then again sharing is caring. So here goes: the most delicious fish in our local lakes, such as walleye and crappie, are fairly easy to catch in the springtime because they are getting ready to spawn.
Spawning is how bony fish reproduce. They typically find a suitable place for a nest or simply disperse their eggs in the shallows. Once a suitable mate is within a fin's length away they have a go at procreation.
But before they can spawn, bony fish must prepare by eating a lot. Both the females' eggs and males' milt require calcium, energy, and a variety of nutrients. In other words, the fish are vulnerable at this time because fishermen know they are forced to feed voraciously during the short window of time when the ice comes off the lake until the first few weeks of the spring spawn.
There's a little more science to it than this, however. During the daytime in early spring the shallow water warms up faster than the deeper water because sunlight is absorbed by debris on the lake bottom. Therefore, in early spring small prey such as crayfish and minnows become active in the shallow waters, especially late on sunny days and even more so during a warm spell in early spring. This means crappies, walleyes, and bass can be easily taken from shore all around most local lakes until the water warms up.
Next up is the post-spawn. Because the fish gave away so many nutrients during their spawning ritual, they need to replenish their body tissues and so they continue feeding heavily until late spring. Typically, however, by late spring the fish have moved out into weed beds offshore so anglers need a boat to get to them.
But wait; there's an even more complex fish behavior to consider! Many species of fish move out into weed beds and other cover during the daytime but move back into the shallows to feed during the nighttime. This pattern persists throughout the summer and fall months for numerous reasons.
Anyone who visits Mosquito Lake during daytime hours can observe the chief reason most fish stay away from the shallows until nightfall; look up to see birds of prey soaring over the lake all day long every day. Ospreys and bald eagles can plunge their dagger-like talons as deep into the water as 3-4 feet to grab a careless fish! For this reason most fish at Mosquito stay far from shore in water deeper than 4-5 feet all day long. This is the primary reason why so many locals who day fish from shore during the summer months believe there are no fish in Mosquito Lake.
Another reason fish stay away from the shoreline during the sunny days of summer has to do with the decreasing solubility of oxygen gas in water as the water temperature increases. To make an analogy, fish stay in deeper and colder waters on hot sunny days just as people stay in air-conditioned rooms on hot muggy days when it is difficult for us to breathe.
And finally, you need to research what the fish are feeding on based on each season and then do your best to mimic the seasonal prey with the presentation of your bait.
So putting it all together for the budding anglers out there; fishing success varies with seasons, baits, presentations, locations, and time of day:
Follow the spawn and catch more fish;
Stay close to shore in early springtime;
Fish the shore in late evening, night, and early morning;
Fish offshore during the daytime all summer;
Research the seasonal baits per species;
Practice proper presentation of baits.
If you follow these hints you will certainly not get skunked, even at Mosquito Lake. Truth be told, I fish Mosquito Lake dozens of times every year and I only get skunked maybe once every other year - honestly.
Andrew Herman is a resident of Warren. Readers can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org