The fall months have reputations for being some of the best months of the entire year for fishing, as most fish species, walleyes included, are actively feeding during this time.
However, simply hitting the water and wetting a line does not guarantee success. In fact, because fall walleyes can be shallow to very deep and everywhere in between, and because they can be caught lots of ways, this can be one of the most challenging times as well.
Here are some suggestions for increasing your odds for walleye fishing success this fall.
Check various fishing depths
Two falls ago, guide clients and I caught walleyes from 4 feet of water one day. The next day, we found active fish in 42 feet of water on another lake. Typically, I like to target fall walleyes in shallow, weedy lakes by searching for still-living, green weeds, which often occur in water depths ranging from three to 10 feet. Deeper lakes, on the other hand, often mean walleyes holding on sharp drop-offs where main lake structure tumbles into the depths.
These are only general rules, however, and for that reason, I like to keep an open mind when hitting the water. If the fish don’t appear to be following the rules, then I stay on the move looking for fish, using my electronics to aid my search.
Incidentally, the past three years, I have been using Raymarine multi-function display units and have been relying on their state-of-the art CHIRP technologies to help me locate walleyes. I have been very impressed with how well they help reveal walleyes and other fish, regardless of the depth or cover they are holding in.
When fall walleye fishing comes to mind, most anglers, this one included, typically think of jig and minnow combinations and for good reason. Jigs and minnows account for good catches. The past couple falls, however, I have been staying with my summer “power” fishing methods longer with good success.
Spinner rigs tipped with nightcrawlers and fished at 1.0- to 1.5-mph have put a lot of fish in my boat, even into October. This method has been productive on the edges of weeds, or what’s left of them, in small, shallow lakes. Deeper, clearer waters have been best attacked by also using a bottom bouncer and fishing fast, but by trading the spinner for a plain snell tipped with a night crawler.
These faster fishing methods attract and trigger fish every bit as a good as a jig and minnow on most days. Plus, they have the added advantage of allowing me to fish faster, meaning I can put my bait in front of more fish during a fishing day.
Summer’s heat often means a walleye bite that peaks early in the morning and again during late evening. During the fall, however, especially as fall progresses and the water cools, the bite often peaks during mid-day as the water warms to its daily peak and the fish get most active. For that reason, a lot of the best fishing action occurs during afternoons.
Good luck with your fall fishing and, as always, remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!