Fishing during significant insect hatches on Lake St. Clair makes fishing significantly more challenging. Hatch events introduce a significant amount of biomass into the system which makes for easy meals for walleyes and their quarry. These hatches become multi-day 24-hour buffets for fish. The question is how do anglers make these bug hatches work to bring walleyes in the boat? The answer to this is that you will have to level set your expectations and put in more work to get bit as you modify your angling approach.
SPIN THE BLOCK Spinners or "crawler harnesses" consistently put walleyes in the boat on the Lake St. Clair system. These live bait presentations are most often trolled with bottom bouncers or in-line weights such as the Off Shore Tackle guppy weight. Each presentation has it's strengths depending on the target area. Bottom bouncers excel in featureless flats where baitfish, perch, and clouds of hatching insects are. These wired weights put your spinners directly in the face of fish which relate to the bottom. In-line weight best shine when targeting Lake St. Clair's cabbage weed patches. In the summer months walleyes 'dig in' and make their summer home within these broad-leafed cabbage patches. These areas provide walleye with concealment from predators and ambush points to crush insects and baitfish. Running spinners behind light weight inline weights so they just tick above the weeds is an excellent way to shake walleyes out of the weeds. Off Shore Tackle's guppy weights can be rigged with barrel swivels at the rear to facilitate interchanging spinner rigs. As an added benefit, the guppy weight creates a catch point for floating weeds which can keep you fishing longer.
THE SATISFACTION OF REACTION Alternatively, another approach to triggering bites during the hatch is to trigger the fish's predatory instinct with a reaction strike. This is best accomplished by trolling deep diving crank baits at a fast pace over the tops of weeds. With fast moving crank baits walleyes only have a brief moment to strike so this technique can often trigger bites when others fail. The key is being able read the conditions and knowing when to spin the block or burn crank baits over the weeds. Both will produce summertime fish in challenging hatch conditions.
ACES IN THE HOLE
Sometimes a few tricks up your sleeve will get you a few more key bites. Having several prime cabbage patches to fish during the day can make or break fishing during these hatches. This is where first-hand knowledge pays off. Other times downsizing Colorado blades to no. 3s and 4s and running whites and chartreuse can play to your favor. Appealing to fish's sense of smell is an alternate strategy which can get you bit when walleyes are fickle. My top summer scents for Lake St. Clair are Pro-Cure Bait Scent’s Emerald Shiner and Trophy Perch super gels. Applying a small dab to the back side of spinner blades or the spines of crank baits adds another dimension to trigger bites. In my opinion, adding this scent profile tempts walleyes with the aroma of more nutrient rich bait and this can lead to a few more bites when you need it most.
WRAPPING IT UP Bug hatch present challenges to most anglers, having an adaptive mindset will allow you to make the hatch work for you. Summer fishing on Lake St. Clair for walleyes is significantly more challenging than in the spring and fall so you must adjust expectations to work harder for less bites. In the end, your trip will feel that much more rewarding when you put the time in and trick walleyes in the midst of a summer bug buffet.