The quantitative data on fish numbers and behavior were obtained during the open water season of 2019, and came from 19 outings on Lake Geneva in southern Wisconsin and 19 on other lakes in Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan. The data are shown in the tables of the Results section below. There are some considerations with respect to generalizing the data to other lakes and fishing conditions; these are given at the beginning of the Results section. Otherwise, the following are the major conclusions from these studies:
1. Numbers of Fish: In all, the fish identified on the videos from all the lakes included 125 muskies, 57 northern pike, 35 walleyes, 145 smallmouth bass, 51 largemouth bass, 26 lake trout, and 44 brown trout. In addition, many panfish were also observed, along with fish of a few other species Many more muskies were seen in September and October than earlier or later in the year. The fish noted on the videos changed during the year for Lake Geneva (for which I had the most complete data) in that bass and panfish predominated during the summer, giving way to muskies and lake trout in the fall.
2. Follows: A fish was considered to have followed a lure when staying behind it for at least 5 seconds. Approximately 22.4% of the fish seen on the videos would follow the lures. Muskies did not appear to do this more frequently than the other game fish species. However, muskies would sometimes follow lures for over a minute, traveling distances of at least 150 feet. Lake trout also followed for relatively long distances. On the other hand, smallmouth bass were found to follow the lures for significantly shorter distances than the other game fish species.
3. Muskie Depths and Angle of Approach: Muskies appeared to be located quite deep in the clear water lakes sampled – 58 of 100 were located in at least 25 feet of water when initially encountered. They generally approached the lure from below, rather than from above or on the same plane.
4. Numbers of Strikes: Many more fish were seen on the trolling cameras than actually struck the lures. In fact, only 8.9% of the fish did strike. Muskies and lake trout appeared to strike least often, and largemouth and smallmouth bass most often.
5. Fish Curiosity: This parameter was defined as the tendency of a fish to approach and look at the cameras as well as the lures. Muskies and lake trout appeared to be the most curious. Walleyes, brown trout, and bluegills approached only the lures, never the cameras.