the leaves slowly begin to change colour and the nights become frosty,
walleye anglers in the know begin to get their tackle ready in anticipation
of guaranteed action. Fall is the number one period for catching LARGE
walleye, especially those that push the scale down to double digits! By
following a few simple rules, catching trophy walleye during the harvest
moon can be as easy as 1-2-3, and let's face it, what can be better than
that in the game of fishing?
Fall time signals a change in the attitude of walleye. With the onset of
winter just around the corner, walleye will begin gorging on baitfish and
other food sources in order to build up fat reserves. This will be necessary
to get them through the harsh and cold winter, and also to prepare them for
the upcoming spawn.
The last few months before winter is an opportunity for "feast or famine,"
and the predator walleye will be out in full force, eating everything that
comes its way. Locating these fish, and knowing what to throw at them, are
two key areas that will help you find success.
Where To Look?
Finding the walleyes of fall can be a simple task, as locations are
quite precise and straightforward. The first thing to do is limit all of
your fishing to water that is less than twenty-feet deep. Fish move
shallower as the water grows colder, and most of my angling actually takes
place in water less than fifteen feet deep. Rivers, shoals, humps and
islands all provide key areas for walleye to congregate at. These structure
points provide an adequate food source and also an excellent staging area in
preparation of the forthcoming spawn. Rivers and river mouths are actually
two excellent locations that I rate high on the production scale. Current
areas such as these seem to draw walleye in by the thousands, enabling both
anglers on shore and in boat to cash in on the action. Concentrate on
weed/rock transitions and well-defined weedlines that are made up of healthy
The Graveyard Shift
Night fishing for walleye is a technique that positively shines when
summer turns into fall. Due to their light sensitive eyes, the walleye will
flood the shallows come nighttime, searching for an easy meal with their
well-honed vision. The best technique to employ at night is to start
shallow, and work progressively out into deeper water. I like to start in
water between two and three-feet-deep, and work all the way out to fifteen
or twenty-feet. Generally, you'll find the most action in the skinny water,
as this is where the largest concentrations of baitfish will be
Crankbaits are your best choice during these optimum conditions as they can
cover water quickly, and "match the hatch" perfectly. Choose cranks that
have a long profile, and don't be afraid to go big when picking your baits.
Lures between five and seven-inches are the norm in the fall, and will
certainly produce above-average size fish. Look for baits that contain
rattles, as they will definitely attract more attention under the cover of
darkness. Don't let colour become an issue when choosing a crankbait, as the
profile and sound they produce should be the two main considerations.
Casting and trolling are two productive techniques to utilize when chasing
walleye through the night. Casting will allow you to work the area
thoroughly, however, trolling will enable you to cover a larger area. One
route I take is to cast the shallows first, working every nook and cranny in
a slow, methodical fashion, and then trolling the deeper water as I work my
The Frog Connection
Every fall, just as the frost begins to settle on the ground, frogs
begin their migration from land to water in order to hibernate in the mud.
Although this migration period may only last a few days, those lucky enough
to experience it will be in for the thrill of a lifetime.
As the frogs make their way to the water under the cover of darkness, hungry
walleye wait patiently, ready to snap up any frog that makes that fateful
leap into the wet stuff. Walleye will stage in water as shallow as a foot
deep, and they can make for easy pickings for anglers smart enough to figure
the puzzle out.
I've only experienced this phenomenon once in my life, but the action was so
incredible it will last forever in my mind. Walleye after walleye fell prey
to my crankbait, many of the fish grabbing the bait as it hit the water,
much the same way that a bass does a topwater plug. The key for this action
is to find the right spot. Search for an area on your lake that has a mud
bottom and is surrounded by cattails at the shore and wetlands on the bank.
Jigging a Fish Up
Jigs and livebait are a great technique when heading out in the fall,
especially during the daytime period. Choose large chubs or sucker minnows,
and keep your offering on or near the bottom at all times. Light from the
sun will most certainly dictate the depths you scour, with deeper water
being an obvious choice during bright, sunny days. Make sure to add a
stinger hook to your offering in order to hook those fish that are light
biters, or those that are feeling a little finicky.