Big walleye country: Fall fishing’s prime target in the northland
I’ve been getting a lot of question at seminars in recent weeks, so for this blog, I’d like to answer specific questions in turn. For this column, let’s talk fall walleyes.
Q: Where are the top locations for fall walleyes?
T3: Walleyes, indeed, are feeding extremely heavily and you can catch them all day long if you fish the right spots. Most days they drop down deep; under low-light, cloudy conditions, they move shallow to feed. They’re always looking for food.
Walleyes will move off deep flats, then approach green weeds to feed as water cools. Under low-light conditions, I like casting crankbaits up into shallow flats connected to deep water. These are prime locations.
Follow a formula for finding these spots since shallower lakes obviously are going to cool faster.
First, work shallow small lakes, then shallow big lakes, then deep small lakes, then deep large lakes. This is the order in which they cool down. When these lakes start to cool, we can follow the movement of these walleyes. Start with shallow small lakes first. Fish those lakes in succession throughout the fall period.
Q: What draws the walleyes into prime fishing zones?
T3: In shallower lakes, frogs and minnows are coming in, and walleyes are feeding heavily. Combine that prey source with the right habitat, and the bite really clicks. In some areas, look for fish in these areas with current, maybe a bay mouth.
Q: So what’s the hot presentation for fall walleyes?
T3: When fishing points or breaklines on a deeper lake, you’ll see me casting crankbaits, a jig and minnow, and live-bait rigs. On many bodies of water, however, I’m exclusively using red-tailed chubs or shiners.
Live-bait rigs with redtails are very productive – go with 4- to 6-inch or bigger redtails. I tail hook them. And don’t forget, leeches still work in fall too.
Q: I find I often miss fall walleyes on the hook-set. Any ideas?
T3: Use a large enough hook for these walleyes. I was using hooks that were too small one time and missing fish. Seems like in fall it’s hard to err on the side of a hook that’s too big.