Insects: You can't miss a mayfly hatch. They're everywhere, and most anglers think it's time to head for home when they see them at the boat landing. Not so.
Mayflies hatch in mud on lake bottoms from 15 to 30 feet down and rise to the surface, where clouds of minnows congregate to eat them. Walleyes will be near the surface, eating both minnows and insects. To catch them, troll shallow baits using lures that mimic the size of the minnows.
Walleyes capitalize on other forage when they can. For example, you'll find Keenan in warm-water bays as frogs finish spawning. He's nabbed trophy walleyes 18 inches deep at that time of year. Use floating lures, such as No. 9 or No. 11 Floating Rapalas, and reel as slowly as you can.
BIG WATER WANDERERS
Biologists have dubbed ciscoes "restless fish" for good reason—they're constantly on the move. You'll find them shallow during spring and suspended over deeper water as the weather warms.
The bigger walleyes in the system will be right with them, but trophies can be tough to find until autumn, when water temps drop to 40 degrees. That's when ciscoes move back to the shallows again to lay eggs over rocks that are three to six feet deep and free of vegetation. Their arrival coincides with the fall feeding frenzy, when predators fatten up for the winter.
"Everything follows them in—big walleyes and muskies," says Tom Keenan. "That's when you catch the biggest fish of the year." For the best chance of success at this time, cast or troll crankbaits.
In the Great Lakes (particularly Lake Michigan's Green Bay and Bay de Noc areas), alewives are a major food source for walleyes. They are extremely sensitive to cold water, so they migrate deep during winter to stay warm and move to mid-depths during spring and fall.
Summer walleye fishing can be tough because alewives give predators a ready food source when they spawn from June through August. But after eggs hatch, perch and a variety of minnows move to the rocks and gorge on them. Walleyes then eat the perch and minnows.
Smelt go very deep during warm months. Great Lakes salmon fishermen accidentally catch walleyes at depths of 40 to 50 feet and deeper. But as the water cools in fall, smelt move into the bays, and that's where you'll find walleyes.
MASLOW'S HIERARCHY OF NEEDS
World War II was raging when psychologist Abraham Maslow published his theory of human motivation in 1943. Other psychologists of his day studied the mentally ill. But Maslow focused on the world's most successful people to learn what made healthy humans tick. "The study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy," Maslow wrote in his book, Motivation and Personality.
Maslow thought people were basically good. Violence and evil resulted when the drive toward actualization was stopped, he said. As a result of his fresh approach, Maslow developed a pyramid of needs. Physiological needs were first. Safety was next, followed by social needs of affection and friendship. The need for esteem, both internal and external, came next. Self-actualization was at the top. "A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be," Maslow wrote.
Likewise, a walleye angler must catch walleyes to be happy.