You’ve probably heard that fall walleye fishing is some of the best walleye fishing of the year. But why? We’ll answer that question and break down how you can make the most of the season’s opportunities.
Most everyone in the walleye world knows that fall is the walleyes’ season to bulk up. This is their time to put on the feedbag and build fat reserves for the upcoming winter and to grow their eggs before spring. The finicky walleyes of summer are gone. But what does that mean to your fall walleye fishing plans? Just because walleye are on the feed doesn’t mean they will jump in the boat. You still have to find them, target them and execute a plan.
First, let’s define the season. Fall walleye fishing does not wait for the calendar to say Sept. 20, nor does fall walleye fishing start when the leaves on the trees start to turn. It starts quite a bit sooner in the northern half of the continent.
Learn when to use spinners and related rigs to counter walleye movement and catch more fish.
Walleyes are famous for their nomadic roaming tendencies. Walleye movement is depicted with phrases like, “Here Today—Gone Tomorrow,” or, my favorite, “They don’t have a mailbox.”
Whether you chase walleyes in the Great Lakes, in smaller natural lakes, or in reservoirs, decades of old angling wisdom addresses the roaming ways of walleyes with presentations designed specifically for covering water. One of the time-honored traditions for intercepting walleyes on the move is to cover water with live bait harnesses, using spinners and action floaters.
This often-overlooked strategy for trolling or casting crankbaits convinces tentative walleyes to bite and makes aggressive fish even more aggressive.
I’m not referring to the green-bottled beer (sorry Pennsylvanians), but to physically rolling submerged gravel and cobble with crankbaits. Dredging is another term applied to this high-action approach. How do you roll rocks with a crankbait? Velocity, plus depth!
Typically, a power trolling technique, rolling rocks is also a method used by savvy shore anglers and river waders. The “rolling rocks” terminology is quite literal. The goal is to pull the crank with enough velocity that it hits the rocky bottom so hard that the diving lip flips small rocks up and out of the way, plowing a mini furrow in the gravel bottom. Whether you are fishing a pea-gravel bottom or something bigger—marbles, cobble, baseballs, or even melons—instead of the norm of ticking those rocks, this technique begs you to SLAM into the rocks. It’s true that the bigger stuff doesn’t get rolled by the lure, but that’s not for lack of trying!
Sometimes it’s tough to top trust live bait presentations for putting walleyes in the boat or on the bank.
As both hardbaits and soft plastics have gotten better and better you might conclude that live bait is an archaic throw-back to an earlier era; something you don’t really need in a modern walleye arsenal. Not so fast. There are still times and places to bring out the bait bucket – or more likely nowadays – the bait carton or Bait Tamer. And as proof, the renowned Ranger boats tournament walleye models come factory equipped with a Lindy Bait Tamer for the livewell. That’s not an accident!
And this article isn’t talking about aggressive bait approaches like big baited spinner rigs or the various spinning “death” hooks to make bait appear more active. No, this article encourages you to create your own modern incarnation of subtle bait presentations—ways to take a slip bobber or plain-hook bait rig into the modern walleye scene.
We’ll explore the most important factors to consider for stocking your walleye box and picking the lures to pull any given day.
“When the weather is sunny, use silver lures, and when the weather is cloudy, use gold lures. If that doesn’t work, do the opposite.” Old Angling Myth
Ah, to have such a simple choice: Silver or gold? The characters who coined the myth clearly didn’t have the wide gamut of options we have nowadays. In addition to color, add in shapes, sounds, sizes, actions, running depths and more, and the number of possible meals on the menu is almost mind-boggling. Still, we all have our ways to decide what to snap on the end of our lines.
Several methods can help you troll crankbaits at specific depths, which can be critical for getting walleye to bite.
Doesn’t take long for it to be clear: crankbait fishing – particularly crankbait trolling – is a depth-control game. Whether you are targeting walleye in the bottom zone or suspending well above bottom, to catch them consistently you want to present your lure in their faces!
Walleye generally aren’t slashing or attacking type predators as much as they are stalkers. They just don’t typically streak away from the depth they are using to smash your crank. In my circle of friends, we call it a “glom on” bite when they slowly “glom on” as your bait wiggles past. It’s the most common type of walleye bite and results from their reliance on big teeth to hold prey until they swallow. They don’t need to run baitfish down or smash them. They just need to glom on!