Simple tactics produce good results for St. Clair River walleyes

A simple nightcrawler harness drifted behind a 2-ounce bottom-bouncer did the trick on a recent walleye fishing trip on the St. Clair River. (Photos by Bill Parker)

Sometimes, fishing on the Great Lakes and their connecting waters can seem a bit complicated.

When you’re out on a big lake dealing with planer boards and downriggers, outriggers and led-core line, the plan for the day can become a bit muddled to the uninitiated angler.

Other times, however, it can be as easy as threading a nightcrawler onto your hook and drifting it along with the current.

I found the later to be true on a recent walleye fishing trip to the St. Clair River at Port Huron.

All spring – and most of last year for that matter – I’ve been getting reports from anglers that the walleye bite at Port Huron has been nothing short of  phenomenal. While the Detroit River was on fire earlier this year between Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie with it’s annual spring walleye run, anglers fishing north of Lake St. Clair were quietly filling their livewells, too.

By about 8:30 a.m. most of the fishing pressure had disappeared as the morning bite dwindled down.

When my friend Tim King asked me to join him and Rick Chevrier on a trip to the St. Clair River, I couldn’t hop in the truck fast enough.

We hit a local access site at about 6 a.m. and a few minutes later were drifting nightcrawler harnesses behind 2-ounce bottom-bouncers.

We’d drift downstream about a half-mile, then reel in our lines, motor up to the top of our drift, drop our crawlers back into the water and drift back downstream. It was basic fishing. Nothing fancy and certainly nothing that takes an advanced class in angling to accomplish.

Rick Chevrier quickly turned our catch into a nice pile of tasty boneless fillets.

On our second drift, Tim tied into a healthy 15-inch walleye. Five minutes later he was into his second keeper, and not long after that Rick boated another beautiful “eater.”

Full disclosure: I have to admit that my walleye fishing adventures have been limited. I don’t have a boat big enough to safely get out on Lake St. Clair, Saginaw Bay or the Detroit or St. Clair rivers. I live inland, in an area without many opportunities close to home to fish for walleyes. But panfish, pike and bass fishing are great on my local waters. Needless to say, my technique for setting the hook was a bit of overkill. My bass fishing background was on display as I’d heave back on my rod to firmly set the hook. But I wasn’t putting any fish in the livewell.

“There’s one,” I’d say before rearing back on my rod to set the hook. Then I’d follow with, “Dang it! Missed ‘em.”

OK, it took me a couple of drifts, but I finally figured out that a solid sweeping motion was all I needed to secure my bites and that I didn’t have to rear back on the rod like I thought I was Kevin VanDam. Once I settled down and got into a walleye-fishing mode, I started to catch fish, too.

At the end of about a three-hour trip we’d managed to boat 10 fish all between 15 and 22 inches long.

All the rumors of fantastic fishing at Port Huron are true.

Categories: Blog Content, Fishing, How To’s, Michigan – Bill Parker, Walleye

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