Outdoors: Match the hatch

As we enter the best fishing month of the year, June, we look forward to the walleyes and largemouth bass getting active and providing some tremendous fishing opportunities as the water is finally warming into the 60’s and the weed growth is underway.

It is also prudent for the modern angler to key in on what the game fish are eating and trying to match the hatch.

Here’s evidence of a large perch that was regurgitated from a 17 inch walleye caught recently on a central Minnesota lake – remember to match the hatch .

Here’s evidence of a large perch that was regurgitated from a 17 inch walleye caught recently on a central Minnesota lake – remember to match the hatch .Submitted photo

Here are some tips to help put things in perspective on trying to create an artificial version of what the game fish are keying in on.

Livewell investigations

This is one of my favorite ways to determine what the walleyes, northern pike and bass are eating … observe the livewell.

Even if I am planning to release my catches, I always put a couple of fish in the livewell and see what they upchuck into the water.

Quite often telltale pieces of crayfish, insects and even large minnows will surface. That is what you call iron-clad evidence.

Once I determine their food source the puzzle is solved.

Adapt to the source

Once we determine what the game fish are dining on, we now try and duplicate the food source. If they are feeding on small perch, an angler would typically put on a small perch imitating crank bait with the exact colors to match.

If small shiners or chubs are determined, then a switch to a silver based bait would be in order. I am not too concerned about the matching the size of the bait to the size of the food but rather concentrate on matching the color.

Personal autopsy

I always make it a point to check the stomach contents of every walleye I clean and make sure I determine what they are feeding on by the remaining contents.

You can learn a lot by emptying the stomach contents and gleaning  through the refuse and you can learn a lot.

Many times they are filled with blood worms, sometimes insect larvae and most often during this time of the spring, small minnows.

It is amazing how walleyes can have a stomach stuffed with small minnows and still have the tenacity to attack your bait.

Again, this is the time of the spring when they go on a feeding binge like no other time of the season.

Also keep in mind that the game fish have a rotating series of food sources throughout the season which means their food is ever changing.

I always do the autopsy thing during the entire open water season because these fish have learned to adapt to different food as it becomes available from multiple sources.

Steve Carney is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.

up arrow