Living on the river, mayflies are a nuisance, but much like the proverbial parakeet in the coal mines. Years ago, workers in the shaft mines of eastern Kentucky; took parakeets into the deeply dug caverns. If the parakeet died, it was a sure sign they had tapped into poisonous, deadly gases, and it was time to leave the mine, before methane or other fumes overcame them.Today, besides providing a ready diet for our river fish, mayflies will only hatch in clean, unpolluted water. Sure, I detest their little carcasses all over my patio & deck, having them fly into my eyes, ears & nose while performing yard work; but the knowledge that our river is becoming cleaner & cleaner, is a small price to pay for their annoyance, and evidence of the growing cleanliness in the Ohio River.
Mayflies have a rather sad & short life. In clean river water, when the temperature is perfect, the eggs float to the surface & hatch. If conditions fail to stimulate the gestation, the eggs can lay undisturbed for years on the bottom of the river, unless eaten by fish. Once they hatch, the males & females fly to the land, cover everything and cause a temporary inconvenience. In 24 +/- hours, they will breed, the male dies quickly and the female returns to the river to drop her eggs and expire. While river fish will eat the eggs, hatching larvae or impregnated female; they shy away from the dead insects; which even when living, are really too delicate to hook & use as bait.
The same can be said for living or dead stink bugs & mosquitoes-they won't catch fish. If recently dead, or especially when alive; June bugs, and especially the garden pesky Japanese beetles are favorite fish foods-especially for pan fish and small mouth bass. Safely, hanging a bug zapper over the river assists in building our fisheries, and the fish do more than all mans efforts to clean up the river-much to their detriment! Nevertheless, hanging an electrical appliance over water, is hardly recommended. Instead, if you have the space and desire; put a nail, facing up; through an angled piece of plywood and mount it over the river on your dock or a piling. On the nail, impale old meat scraps that will quickly attract flies. Maggots are another favorite fish food, and will fall off the angled plywood, into the river,
It may not be the most of appetizing of posts, but help restore our Ohio River fishery, and I'll guarantee, the taste of freshly caught, cleaned and fried bluegill, crappies, small & large mouth bass, saugers, stripers, channels and even freshwater eels will quickly make you forget their diet, and come to understand the importance June bugs, mayflies, even Japanese beetles and maggots play in our food chain!