Bug Hatch Walleye

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Singing Bridge
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Bug Hatch Walleye

Postby Singing Bridge » Tue Jun 16, 2015 1:26 pm

BUG HATCH WALLEYE

Every year I see many walleye fisherman struggle during the bug hatch. Whether it is a small inland lake or one of the Great Lakes, when the walleye have gorged on bugs the bite typically slows. Most fishermen continue to do exactly what they did prior to the massive hatches and blame the bugs for their reduced success. It is plainly obvious to them what is happening, as the occasional fish they do catch belches out a tennis ball sized wad of partially digested bugs. They reason that their reduced success is because the fish are bloated and couldn’t eat much more if they had to. This certainly makes sense to any logical fisherman.

Before I get into tactics I should discuss exactly what I mean by the bug hatch. Every year, mayflies and countless other aquatic larvae, nymphs and flies hatch on bodies of water. Walleyes eat the larvae and nymphs with abandon; I have caught many of them at this time of the year with clay surrounding their mouths. The walleye actually root the bugs off of the lake bed bottom with their nose and mouths. I have also watched walleye next to my boat eat huge piles of nymphs on the surface of the lake, with their mouth sticking out of the water which created a “slurping” sound. This reminds me of the monster brown trout I used to fish in Montana, where they would stick their noses out of the water in the back eddies while they gorged on surface hatches. These hatches of bugs occur every year and are something every good walleye fisherman has to deal with.

So what can we do when the walleye are stuffed so full there is little to no room in their bellies? Well, you can lament about your bad timing and luck and do poorly like the masses… or you can think your way through it. Walleye are creatures of habit and good walleye fishermen manipulate this understanding of the fish’s behavior. My favorite tactic is to promote a reaction from the fish, appealing to their natural instinct to strike. I don’t want to give them any time to examine my presentation either, they either strike or the encounter is finished. Enough walleye will strike to make this my preferred tactic during the bug hatches. I accomplish this reaction from the walleye by utilizing high action and / or high speed tactics.

I remember fishing the bug hatch on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan’s Indian Lake. The locals and other visitors were having a really rough time catching fish. They were getting one or two with a full day on the water. After finding suspended walleye over the main basin of the lake I tied on one of my favorite lures for reaction strikes- the Hot – N Tot. This plug has a wildly erratic, side to side searching action when trolled or cast. I bumped the trolling speed of my boat well over 2 MPH and set the lures to literally bounce off the top of the walleye (normally I set it a couple of feet above them). I took limit catches of walleye all week long, but what a mess. Countless thousands of bugs were belched all over the bottom of my boat by the overstuffed walleye.

Another of my favorite tactics is spoon trolling at high speeds. On the Great Lakes I like to find some water that has a bit of an off color, maybe a green area with a good plankton bloom. Remember, I want the walleye to barely have time to make a decision to strike or not. A reaction strike- created by a fast moving lure in water that is not crystal clear. I like to bump up over 3 MPH at times to get a reaction strike and to cover LOTS OF WATER looking for fish that will fall for my tactic. This is the very technique I used to take a boat limit of walleye this morning, with fish so bloated and full of bugs most people wonder how they would ever want to eat anything else.

When the conditions are less than optimal think your way through it. Rather than get depressed, I enjoy the added challenge of bug season as it tests my ability in less than ideal circumstances.


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Jackson Marsh
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Re: Bug Hatch Walleye

Postby Jackson Marsh » Tue Jun 16, 2015 1:34 pm

8-)
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Dewey
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Re: Bug Hatch Walleye

Postby Dewey » Tue Jun 16, 2015 2:59 pm

Great info. 8-)

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P&YBuck1
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Re: Bug Hatch Walleye

Postby P&YBuck1 » Tue Jun 16, 2015 3:40 pm

Great article Singing Bridge.

I will have to give this a whirl since I have been through several fishless bug hatches.

:)
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Re: Bug Hatch Walleye

Postby Stanley » Tue Jun 16, 2015 4:30 pm

Nice write up.
You can fool some of the bucks, all of the time, and fool all of the bucks, some of the time, however you certainly can't fool all of the bucks, all of the time.
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Re: Bug Hatch Walleye

Postby oldrank » Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:18 am

good write up. ive actually witnessed a june bug feeding frenzy on the coast of huron... a light from a local building it right on a rocky point. The bugs flock to the light n crash into the lake. about midnight the walleye come in to feed in large schools n slurp em right off the top. if u shine a good light into the lake u can see their eyes glowing all over.

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Singing Bridge
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Re: Bug Hatch Walleye

Postby Singing Bridge » Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:52 am

oldrank wrote:good write up. ive actually witnessed a june bug feeding frenzy on the coast of huron... a light from a local building it right on a rocky point. The bugs flock to the light n crash into the lake. about midnight the walleye come in to feed in large schools n slurp em right off the top. if u shine a good light into the lake u can see their eyes glowing all over.

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Great observation- walleyes really are freshwater wolves and opportunistic feeders. They will come into the shallows of that rocky point all summer long in the middle of the night to feed on shiners too. I wrote a bit about this in the "Walleye 101" post.
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Re: Bug Hatch Walleye

Postby olivertractor » Wed Jun 17, 2015 7:59 am

We just hit a bug hatch on Lake Superior and salmon and lake trout fishing trended downwards drastically, can't get out there enough to figure out how to break the trend

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Re: Bug Hatch Walleye

Postby remmag » Wed Jun 17, 2015 8:58 am

Great article SB! You really know your stuff man! Have you found that there starting to move deeper yet with warm summer temps approaching or still in shallower depths?

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Re: Bug Hatch Walleye

Postby Swampthing » Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:05 pm

Boy I wish this had been posted last Friday. I hit a wall last weekend out on the lake. My oldest son thought dad was a good fisherman till last weekend. We only got 1 walleye in 2 days. Thanks for the info bridge. Awesome write-ups !

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Singing Bridge
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Re: Bug Hatch Walleye

Postby Singing Bridge » Thu Jun 18, 2015 2:05 am

remmag wrote:Great article SB! You really know your stuff man! Have you found that there starting to move deeper yet with warm summer temps approaching or still in shallower depths?

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They are pretty much at all depths still. When the bugs aren't hatching and the fish are widely distributed I search for "Happy" fish- but that write up will be on a different day.

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