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Fish and gnats both biting

May 25, 2009 at 08:49 AM

It’s Memorial Day weekend and the weatherman has been very cooperative so far. The flood waters of last weekend’s heavy rains have finally settled down in most area streams, and lakes are clearing up from the heavy silt they were exposed to.

The Mississippi River is still a little high but very fishable while the Illinois River continues to flood. The air is warm and inviting to try your luck fishing.

Reports from area fishermen indicate the fish bite on area lakes and ponds has improved as the week progressed. Catfish fishermen on the Mississippi River have been doing well with dip-bait and floating worms, leeches and minnows across and close to the rocks of the rivers banks and wing-dams. The Mississippi River is high with a very strong current — but catfish are biting!

The crappie bite has picked back up after last Thursday’s cold front and Friday’s heavy rains in local lakes and ponds.

The fish are hitting minnows hung from bobbers and jigs.  But we’re getting into the bluegill spawn time of year and they are really hitting well.  The really big bluegills of lakes and ponds are coming into the shallows to spawn — and they bite very well while protecting their nests.

You may like to eat other fresh water fish, but it’s really hard to beat bluegill fillets — they’re one of my favorites.  Their aggressive bite will continue through the month of June.  This is a great time to introduce kids to fishing.

Bass are fish that are difficult to catch while they’re spawning — they are still spawning.  They haven’t been as cooperative as cats, crappie and bluegills but should be finishing up soon.

Attack of the gnats

Area fishermen, gardeners and outdoor construction workers have been complaining about the little black gnats that have been swarming them while trying to fish, garden or work. The gnats aggressive behavior has made outdoor activities miserable during daytime hours.

I thought I’d do a little investigating as to what these little gnats are.  Several local fishermen were calling them “Buffalo gnat”’ so I Googled that into the computer.  It said they were also called black flies.  Most folks who have been up in Canada know what black flies are.

Yvette Johnson DVM and Ken Koelkebeck PhD in an on-line article said, “Recently several areas in Illinois have reported large numbers of black flies have been biting poultry, pets, livestock and people.  Several poultry have died as a result of these attacks and more than 40 people have sought medical attention.”

Other information said there are over 100 known different types of these blood-sucking flies.

The females may attack people and animals in an effort to have a blood meal for egg production.

In humans their bites typically cause pain, itching and swelling.  The adults emerge in the late spring to early summer.  The larvae are very sensitive to water temperature. 

Once water temperature reaches 66-79 degrees the larvae will die and the “Buffalo gnat” season is over until next year.

With adequate rainfall and as surface water quality improves, the conditions are more favorable for the flies.  Black flies are outdoor daytime feeders.

If you must be outside, light colors and long sleeves are recommended.  Clothing and insect repellants containing DEET have been used with limited success.     

Now remember — “Buffalo gnats” are daytime feeders but their buddies the mosquitoes take over the night shift.

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