Fishing Tips

How to catch walleyes during an early-season bug hatch

It’s somehow already that time of year where the bugs may show up at your secret fishing spot before you do….

First, here’s a little bug ID so you can stop calling everything that flies a Mayfly lol.

MN DNR, G. Mikel

We’re a week into multiple large midge hatches around here (Mayflies typically hatch in late-June) so I’m going to plop some nuggets on those down below first. Some AWESOME info from MN DNR Large Lake Specialist Eric Jensen in this older PDF (from May 2015) but still loaded with fascinating insight:

> One of the first major insect hatches to occur on Mille Lacs each year is the non-biting midges from the Chironomidae family. Midges are commonly known as “fish flies” or “lake flies”, and the first midge hatch usually occurs sometime in May.

> Adults look like a very large mosquito, but without the piercing mouthparts. Some of the mating swarms of the adult midges are so dense, that from a distance, they actually appear to be columns of rising smoke.

> One of the most common midges in Mille Lacs is the bloodworm. They have red larvae, which is why they are called bloodworms. The red color is due to a hemoglobin-like substance which helps carry oxygen, allowing them to live in very low oxygen areas. Bloodworms live in tubular cases on soft lake bottoms and feed on organic material. Several emergences occur over the open-water period as their life cycle is relatively short.

Don’t let a hatch scare you off the lake! Here’s a few tricks to help you catch more walleyes right now:


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